With an understated acting style and dry wit, Emmy-nominated David Duchovny, 37, has come to personify The X-Files' Fox Mulder, the brilliant and driven-and decidedly spooky-FBI agent who heads up the Bureau's division for cases deemed unsolvable. The Ivy League-educated actor came to The X-Files with an eclectic background in filmmaking, having co-starred in such films as Kalifornia and The Rapture, and appearing on television as a transvestite detective in David Lynch's Twin Peaks.
Q: How did The X-Files film compare with doing the television show?
DD: It's a different kind of concentration. The show is really, to a great extent, an actors' show. We have a lot of work to do every day. A lot of the relationship stuff, a lot of the personal issues carry the day in the TV show. In the movie, it's much slower. It's a standalone spectacle of moviemaking. It's a new introduction for the characters. The relationship between the characters doesn't carry the movie the way it carries the show; the introduction of the characters does. By its very nature, the movie was created to satisfy people who didn't know anything about the show. That was a little frustrating.
Q: Is it hard to stay fresh after so many years on the show?
DD: It is hard. Some days it's not fresh and it's not exciting. Some days it is. It usually has to do with the challenge of the material. If there's a difficult scene to do or a fun scene to do or a challenging scene to do--then it's fresh and exciting. If there are just five pages of bulls**t I have to say, or of backstory, dates, figures, numbers or names, then it's just hell.
Q: Do you think the film will appeal to audiences beyond the dedicated X-Files viewer?
DD: It had a really difficult balancing act to do. I think it pulled it off admirably. You've got all of the people who watch the X-Files, and the movie is designed to please them. What you also have is people who don't watch the X-Files, who saw that Duchovny guy and that Anderson girl and said, 'I don't want anything to do with them.' I think those people are actually going to like the film.
Q: What was the evolution of Mulder's not-so-subtle burp at the conclusion of the bar scene?
DD: We were looping that scene and they said, 'Let's put a little woozy sound in there.'
So we tried one where I went, 'Wooo.' Then I suggested, 'Well, my mouth's a little open. Let's slide a burp in there.' I thought it could be a great coda to the whole speech. It's like, 'I'm glad we just got all this pre-digestive backstory out and now we can move on with the movie.'
Q: Did the film get into enough of the mythology for you?
DD: The alien truth is less important to me as an actor, as a storyteller, than the truth of Mulder's family history, exactly what happened to his sister, who Cigarette Smoking Man is to him, what happened with his father, why he is driven to figure out these things, and what effect what he finds will have on him. Did his mother have an affair with CSM? Mulder's like Hamlet in that sense. As an actor and a person, these questions are much more interesting to me. The X-Files stands perfectly as a first film. It's number one in a series. If we'd addressed too many more emotional and personal issues it wouldn't have worked. If there is a next one, hopefully, we'll do some more of that personal stuff.
Q: Speaking of personal issues, do you think Mulder and Scully will ever get together?
DD: I don't know what's going on with that. I really don't know. At first, if you'd told me the show would go five years, I'd have thought Mulder and Scully would have gotten together by now. After the third year, when they hadn't gotten together, I thought, 'This is good and it's right. We shouldn't get together.' So now I think it will probably never happen. But I like the way it's handled in the film. I think it's very clever. It's almost tongue-in-cheek. It's one of those moments where you don't get what you want but you're kind of satisfied anyway.
Q: Do you think a relationship between Mulder and Scully would hurt the show?
DD: I don't know. It's hard to say what would ruin the show, or what would make it good, without actually doing it. But it could be interesting. If we had someone come in who wrote beautifully in that direction I'm sure it would work, but I don't see that happening.
Q: What do you think of Mulder?
DD: He is a loser. He just never succeeds, basically. He doesn't get what he wants. He doesn't win fistfights. He doesn't get the girl. I like him as a hero because I always intended to play him as a guy who doesn't win but who seems to win.
Q: How have you been affected by all of the personal scrutiny surrounding your private life, and your desire to move the show to Los Angeles for the sixth season?
DD: It makes you angry. First of all, I don't deserve it. I'm famous, but for what? I'm an actor and I play a role. It gets you depressed, that people are paying attention to you for reasons that you feel are silly. Aside from that it gets in your way. It makes you very self-conscious.
The only people who got really mad were the people in Vancouver. I had made it clear that I wanted to come back to L.A. to be with my wife. People don't know this, but when I was contemplating doing the X-Files pilot, Chris had done nothing, Gillian had done nothing, and I had done something. So it was in my court to say, 'This is what I want.' And I said, 'I don't want to relocate.' So we shot the pilot up there and they said, 'Let's just do one year up there.' In the middle of the fourth year I sat down with Chris and I said, 'I'm miserable here. I'm not living at home.' It sounds trite for me to say now, but Vancouver is a lovely city and I enjoyed being there. But I was not home and I wanted to go home. This was before I even met Tea.
Q: Does your wife, Tea Leoni, like the show?
DD: She makes me watch it with her. That's fun. It's much more fun for me to watch the show now. I like the show. There are a lot of different elements to it. It's fairly unique in the fact that it takes 100 cliched elements, puts them all together and makes something new. It is the Night Stalker. It is sometimes a medical drama, as bogus as it can be. Scully does an autopsy and all of a sudden we have a cure for a hanta virus. And Scully's the only person who can find it. It's bogus in its chastity and its repartee between Mulder and Scully. And it's creepy for the kids. You take all of those things together and, somehow, it comes off as being fresh, unique and original. You could never have sat down and predicted it. It wasn't in the pilot I read. It's something that has grown as all of the ingredients in the show have grown, as Chris, Gillian, Rob, and myself have grown as performers, directors, writers, whatever. It's just become better and better.
Q: You'd rather do X-Files films than the show?
DD: It just takes too long to do a season of the show. It takes 10 months. That doesn't leave me any time to do other work, to have a family. The show is an all-consuming job. If I could play Mulder for five months of the year on TV, I would. But I can't. So, films would be my preference. Shooting the show in L.A. will make things easier, but it won't make me continue on past whatever my contract says at this point.