Doug Hutchison as Eugene Victor Tooms in The X-Files
There is no denying that the first few seasons of The X-Files were among the show’s scariest, especially the standalone “Monster of the Week” episodes. One of the most frightening of these weekly baddies was Eugene Victor Tooms, a genetic mutant with the ability to squeeze himself through the narrowest of openings.
Introduced in the first season episode “Squeeze,” Tooms would awaken from hibernation every 30 years and return to the outside world in order to feed his hunger for human organs, livers to be precise. After killing his five victims and satisfying his appetite, he would go back into hiding, build a “nest” and sleep for another three decades.
"The best way I can describe my character is by comparing him to a vampire," says actor Doug Hutchinson (The Green Mile, Lost, 24), who played Tooms. "He wasn’t a malicious person, but more like a creature in need. Tooms’ mind worked on pure instinct, similar to a cat or lizard, thinking, 'Just give me my sustenance to live and then I'm gone for 30 years.' He was an intelligent individual and, basically, it's that vampiric and instinctual thing that I feel embodied the character."
In “Squeeze,” Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are assigned to investigate the murder of a businessman by someone who apparently used an air vent to gain access to the man’s office. The killing matches others committed over the past 90 years where the victims’ livers were also ripped out by a bare hand.
"One of the most memorable moments for me in that episode is when I was on top of Gillian Anderson in the bathroom. Her blouse kept popping open while I was trying to rip out her liver," laughs Hutchison.
"Initially in the script my character's eyes turned yellow when he became carnivorous or when scouting out his victims. I got contacts fitted in Hollywood before I went up to Vancouver to film the episode, but for some reason unbeknownst to me, when I got there the producers had decided to ax the contacts. I guess they felt the less we did to Tooms physically, the more innocent I’d look and the more menacing the character would be.
"Well, I fought tooth and nail for those contacts,” continues the actor. “They were my babies and I just felt right in them. We shot, I think, maybe a day’s worth of footage. I don't know if it was what they saw in the dailies or, perhaps, my persistence, but the very next day the contacts were back in. We actually had to re-shoot the three or four scenes that were initially shot without the contacts. I was thrilled that that happened because I felt those liverish, bile-like, yellow eyes were Tooms’ trademark."
Mulder and Scully ultimately succeeded in catching Tooms and putting him behind bars. However, given that he was voted Villain of the Year by America On-Line X-Files fans, it is no surprise that the character returned eight months later in the episode “Tooms.” This time around, though, our heroes put him on a permanent hunger strike, but not without Hutchison offering some input on how to do so.
"In the last scene, Tooms is hibernating in his nest underneath an escalator," explains the actor. "For some reason the producers wanted me to wear my character’s animal control officer uniform when I come bursting out of the nest and attack Mulder. Well, I was horrified by that idea. There was no way that Tooms would have clothes on while hibernating in his nest. More than likely he would have been naked, possibly curled up in a fetal position, and just engulfed in slime.
"It took some convincing but somehow I managed to get the producers to agree with me. Unfortunately, when it came time to shoot the scene I was sick as a dog with the flu. The studio was freezing and I stood there naked as a jaybird while this guy strapped on latex gloves and painted my body with this yellowish bile-looking stuff, which was actually cake frosting mixed with yellow food coloring.
“This stuff surpassed the strength of Super Glue by one thousand times and everything I touched stuck to me. After we'd finish a scene I would come out with lint, cigarette butts, pieces of hair, nails, tacks, whatever, stuck to the most preposterous parts of my body,” he says with a chuckle.
Despite his character’s demise in “Tooms,” Hutchison has nothing but fond memories of filming it as well as “Squeeze” and working with X-Files leads David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. “They were both delightful,” he says. “When we shot 'Squeeze,' The X-Files hadn't as yet become the huge hit that eventually it did, so David and Gillian were pretty much just two actors in a new series wondering what fate had in store for them.
"They probably thought that this would last one, maybe two seasons at the most, so they were very fresh and excited. There was an electricity on-set that I've experienced on other shows in their infancies. It was really thrilling and both David and Gillian were a hoot to work with. David, in particular, has a wry sense of humor. He's extremely intelligent and I just had a great deal of fun working with him.
"A lot of times when you're a guest on a series, you enter a sort of family and feel a bit on the outside. It's like you're stepping into a kind of intimacy where there are private jokes and everybody has their own sort of thing going on. What was really sweet about David and Gillian is that they made me feel completely at home and part of the family from the beginning.”
Please note, all photos copyright of Fox Television.