NYPD Blue’s David Caruso is clearly TV’s poster boy of the season.
But for viewers who like their leading men darkly rebellious, consider David Duchovny as UFO-obsessed FBI agent Fox Mulder of The X-Files.
Duchovny has the looks, the wit, the haircut. And he plays Mulder, a true believer in extraterrestrials and government cover-ups, with an understated intensity that is magnetic. The character single-mindedly probes unexplained cases – X files – the FBI and certain shadowy government figures would rather he and fellow agent Dana Scully (costar Gillian Anderson) drop.
No Blue sex scenes for our hero; it’s all nerve-jangling alien encounters mixed in with immoral killers and science gone badly awry.
There is a tantalizing trace of chemistry between Mulder and the lovely Scully in the Fox Broadcasting Co. series, airing at 9 p.m. Fridays, but producer Chris Carter has vowed not to exchange chills for romance.
Playing a man whose work is his passion is a turnabout for Duchovny, who racked up his share of sexy scenes in movies pre-X-Files.
He was a sweet-talking bounder in Julia Has Two Lovers, a swinger who gets religion in The Rapture and a cuckolded (but not sexually deprived) architect in Showtime’s The Red Shoe Diaries.
Duchovny’s most recent film was Kalifornia, in which he played a writer making a dangerous foray into the realm of murder – with a comely girlfriend, of course.
Given the clever plots and sharp writing of The X-Files the actor is willing to take a dramatic cold shower for now. Besides, he says, it’s a refreshing change.
“I was kind of happy to play a character that didn’t have women register at all on his radar,” Duchovny said. “I take the energy that another character might have directed toward women and direct it toward UFOs.”
Or, he suggests wryly, viewers can come up with their own off-screen scenarios: “You can just imagine what happens in between cases: When I’m not chasing UFOs, I’m chasing skirt.”
Duchovny, 33, a native New Yorker, didn’t start chasing an acting career early in life. He was on an impressive academic path, attending swank private schools.
Following ability more than inspiration, Duchovny earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton and a master’s in English literature at Yale, where he prepared for a teaching career in the Ph.D. program.
He began acting in off-Broadway plays to help him develop as a film and theatre writer. But the performance, not just the play, turned out to be the thing.