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"Je Souhaite"

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Episode 7ABX21

Title: Je Souhaite

First screened in Australia: 9 August, 2000
First screened in the USA: 16 May, 2000

Credits: Director: Vince Gilligan
Writer: Vince Gilligan
Starring: Guest Stars: Plot:
A man without a mouth and an invisible corpse, lead the agents to a genie that grants Mulder three wishes. However, the indifferent genie's offerings bring more mayhem then fortune. Sofcom
My Rating: 10/10

Wow, I loved it. A hilariously funny episode that has stood up to repeated viewings. The supporting cast of Will Sasso, Kevin Weisman and Paula Sorge are brilliant. This is a well-crafted episode, very funny and touching as well. The Forrest Gump inspired idea of Jenn with various historical characters was a hoot.

Where Have I Seen That Face Before?
Paula Sorge (Jenn) has appeared in "Bad Girls" and "Slice and Dice". Kevin Weisman (Anson) appeared recently in the Nicolas Cage movie "Gone In Sixty Seconds". Will Sasso (Leslie) stars in "Mad TV" and appeared in five "Sliders" episodes. His movie roles include "Ernest Goes To School" and "Happy Gilmore". Paul Hayes (Jay) appeared in "Chaplin" with David Duchovny. He's also been seen in "The Progeny" and an episode of "Ally McBeal".

Trivia and Research:
Jinni, also called genie, is a magic spirit believed to take human form and serve the person who calls it. The plural form of the word is jinn, and the feminine form is jinniyah. Synonyms include djinn and jinun. Jinn are beings of flame or air who are capable of assuming human or animal form and are said to dwell in all conceivable inanimate objects--stones, trees, ruins--underneath the earth, in the air, and in fire. They possess the bodily needs of human beings and can even be killed, but they are free from all physical restraints. Jinn delight in punishing humans for any harm done them, intentionally or unintentionally, and are said to be responsible for many diseases and all kinds of accidents; however, those human beings knowing the proper magical procedure can exploit the jinn to their advantage. Belief in jinn was common in early Arabia, where they were thought to inspire poets and soothsayers. Even Muhammad originally feared that his revelations might be the work of jinn. Their existence was further acknowledged in official Islam, which indicated that they, like human beings, would have to face eventual salvation or damnation. Jinn, especially through their association with magic, have always been favorite figures in North African, Egyptian, Syrian, Persian, and Turkish folklore and are the center of an immense popular literature, appearing notably in The Thousand and One Nights. In India and Indonesia they have entered local Muslim imaginations by way of the Qur'anic descriptions and Arabic literature.

Nasal Aplasia occurs when the structure of the nose fails to develop correctly in the embryo. The result is an absence of one side of the nose (heminasal aplasia) or the entire nose. With the absence of the external structures of the nasal region of the face, the internal air passages are often missing as well. Although isolated cases exist, this condition often occurs in association with other facial anomalies.

The storage unit was filled with real antique furniture. Scully is originally scripted to tell Mulder that the pieces are expensive Biedermeyers. But Gillian Anderson accidentally pointed to a Victorian piece, so the line was changed. Gilligan eventually cut those lines out of the show for time.

Jay Gilmore is the son of Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore. Writer Vince Gilligan had once promised an aide to the Governor that he would use the name. "I expect a big kickback now," Vince said.

The character name Anson Stokes is taken from former "Happy Days" star Anson Williams. Gilligan gave Anson's brother the name Leslie because he thought it would be a funny name for such a big guy.

Gilligan set the show in Missouri because he thought the series had done too many episodes in California. Although he has been known to set many of his episodes in his home state of Virginia, Gilligan picked a state midway between the two. He also thought the topography of Missouri was a close match to Southern California.

Mulder makes reference to Henry Flanken's death on April 4th, the birthday of Gilligan's girlfriend, Holly Rice.

Special Effects Foreman Bob Calvert rigged the specially-built trailer to blow up using numerous mortars and sand shot guns. Although the constructed trailer was next to two of the production's own trailers, the scene was shot in a real trailer park, surrounded by residents. Gilligan named his fictional trailer park the Mark Twain Trailer Court after the Show-Me state's famous son, Samuel Clemens. The scene was shot with eight cameras, most of which filmed in slow-motion photography.

On the third day of shooting, director Gilligan received a frantic call from Unit Production Manager Harry Bring that actor Kevin Weisman had an allergic reaction to the yellow makeup used to substitute lycopodium powder. Gilligan rearranged the schedule for the actor to recover, and did manage to shoot Weisman with the appropriate yellowness.

Gilligan had originally scripted that the genie's eyes would have double pupils -- an idea he got from an exhibit at the Ripley's Believe It-Or Not Museum he visited as a child. However, it took so long to find the right actress to play Jenn that the production ran out of time to find specially-painted contact lenses for the actress. Gilligan also felt that such a freakish image would not fit in this lighthearted episode. So they instead opted for a small, blue gemstone attached to the actress' cheek that would be noticeable. Although actress Paula Sorge has blue eyes, she wore a blue contact lens, making her eyes more brilliant to match the stone.

Although her character is supposedly of French origin, actress Paula Sorge does not speak any French. She had to re-do her French lines in post-production for a more authentic accent.

Visual Effects Producer Bill Millar inserted the Jenn character into actual moving footage of Benito Mussolini and Richard Nixon, using the same technology seen in the film "Forrest Gump." Millar matched the lenses, lighting and grainy feel of the archived films. There was also a third film clip of Jenn next to a man getting hit in the stomach with a cannonball, but it was edited out of the show for time. Gilligan used that image of Jenn and the cannonball guy on t-shirts he gave to the crew as gifts.

Gilligan was "very touched" when the First Unit gave him the film slate with his name on it. The slate had been signed by the crew.

Vince Gilligan Interview:
Questions & Answers with Vince Gilligan on his directorial debut What made you want to write an episode about a genie who grants wishes?
VG: I had an idea about a guy who works in a self-storage yard. What would happen if he cut the lock on one of the units and found something weird that's been locked up for 20 years? So really, this is a variation on the idea of that storage place. Originally, I was going to have the guy find a person that's been living in the storage unit without food or water. Then I thought maybe there would be a robot in there, or some kind of door to another universe, but those ideas seemed too sci-fi. So finally I came up with a genie who has been rolled up in a rug. There was no mythology about a rug and I thought it was funny. Besides, a rug wouldn't require any special effects. Jenn is not what one would typically think of as the standard "genie." What made you decide to script her in such a way and then cast her as you did?
VG: When I was writing the story, I thought the best person to play Jenn was Janeane Garofalo, but unfortunately she wasn't available. It took such a long time to find the right actress. I think this was probably the longest casting process we have ever done for a guest star. But Paula Sorge was worth the search. In fact, she's even better than how I had written the character. In Paula's audition, she came off like a world-weary wise-ass who is not only tough and smart, but has a heart of gold. She made it a really fun character. I wrote this as a comedy episode and I thought the genie should be as dry as possible. Because really, we've heard genie stories a million times before. But a genie in a rug is just goofy. So I wrote it more real to make it less goofy. The characters don't discuss it -- they just buy into it. What made you decide to have Anson wish for a yacht?
VG: I thought it would be a real fun thing to see this gigantic boat looming over a trailer park. Your characters are known to have such quirkiness. Why did you decide to put Leslie in a rover-type wheelchair?
VG: The actor Will Sasso from "Mad TV" plays Leslie, and he's this huge body-builder. It was really funny watching him in this little cart with a safety flag. Were you intimidated at all to step in the director's chair?
VG: I was absolutely scared. It affected me all year like a weight hanging over me. I was scared all season. Of course, it was of my own devising because I had bugged Chris to let me direct and it came to pass. But I had to wait until the end of the year, because writing takes up so much time. Although I was nervous, I was equally glad I took the plunge. It was really tough on the first day. I was both mentally and physically exhausted. The crew was so wonderful and made it as easy as it could have been for any first-time director. Those people are all experts technically. I would love to work with them again. Hopefully there will be a next season so that I can direct more episodes. Did this experience make you want to direct feature films?
VG: I would love to do a film someday, but I don't think I am ready. It would be great if I could do at least three more episodes of "The X-Files." I mentioned that to someone on the set and they said that this show is harder than any movie because it has to look as good, but there is less money and a tighter schedule. Directing is tough, period. I'd want more experience under my belt before I do a feature. I definitely have more learning to do. Scully's seen a lot in her seven years with Mulder. Why do you think she was so taken with finding and exposing an invisible man?
VG: She has shown that surprise before, but in this she reacts as we, the audience, would react. She gets this invisible body handed to her and she does not naysay or deny what she's seeing. She's thinking "This is proof and I have no explanation for it." Her character is sometimes infuriating because she constantly denies what her eyes see. But in this episode, she admits that this discovery could change the world. Of course, at the end, she doesn't even believe herself when she says that maybe she just imagined an invisible body. Quite an undertaking tackling an invisible character in your first directorial outing. How did you portray the invisible guy on film?
VG: I originally wrote a scene where Anson turns invisible and then takes off his clothes. I envisioned the Levi's commercial with the floating jeans and shirt. But (Visual Effects Producer) Bill Millar told us that it would not only cost a lot of money for that one shot of a digital body, but it would eat up a big chunk of time on our already tight schedule. So I had the character remove his clothes before he disappeared, and it ended up being a funnier scene. To get the physical effects of an invisible man, the on-set special effects crew put hydraulic rams in the trash cans to make them move and they built mud puddles that splashed by themselves. Since there isn't much to see in an invisible character, I played most of it from his point of view with a Steadicam shot of him running across the street. I actually stole a shot from (director) Rob Bowman. If you remember the truck crash scene in "Pusher" (3X17), it is the same. What we did was mount a big, tempered glass mirror on plywood and aimed the truck towards it. We shot the glass at an angle, so the camera sees a perpendicular, mirrored image of the truck hitting it. Then you flip the image in the editing room. We didn't have to reverse it for the show because the shot was so quick. But if you freeze-frame the scene, you can see the "Kenworth" logo on the truck is backwards. That truck did it in two takes, and it hit the mirror so hard it blew it like a bomb. Glass flew about 200 feet down the road. How did you get a curse word by the censors?
VG: I know we can say "bastard" on television. In "Trevor" (6X17), I think they said "son of a bitch." But I am happy to be known as the one who writes those kind of lines! What made you decide to have Mulder invite Scully over for "Caddyshack" at the end? Did Jenn influence him to long for the simpler things?
VG: Exactly. I really just wanted to create a casual evening for Mulder and Scully to enjoy themselves. That scene evolved out of a conversation I had with my girlfriend Holly. We were talking about guy movies, like "Caddyshack" and The Three Stooges, versus girl movies. I thought it would be fun to see Mulder and Scully discuss that. And then "I'm All Right," the song from the movie that plays in the scene, seemed like the perfect theme for not only Mulder's mood, but the entire episode. Were there any specific images you saw in your head that you incorporated into your script?
VG: I always write like that. And so do Chris, Frank and John. It is easier to write something that I can picture in my head. I think of places I've been to or childhood memories. This especially makes it easier to direct, because those images are in my head. They designed the sets and found locations based on some sketches I drew. This show looked as close to anything I have ever had in mind when writing. Although sometimes Kim Manners and Rob Bowman come up with better images than I had imagined when writing. Any regrets about your ambitious venture into directing?
VG: The worst thing was editing. I personally bled over having to cut things out of the show. It was 11 minutes long. But working with the crew was terrific. We have a great group of people on this show.

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