EVERYONE knows that David Duchovny can pull off a suit. After all, this is a man who fitted snugly inside the FBI uniform of Agent Fox Mulder for nine years on The X-Files. And he cornered the market in repression, thanks to the sexual tension between Mulder and partner Scully (Gillian Anderson).
So it probably came as something of a surprise to his many fans to see him wandering around in his pants, sometimes even less, and having his way with a string of ladies on his new television show, Californication.
It's an interesting career twist for the 47-year-old actor, who swore off TV after the grind of a network series to focus on writing, directing, and his family.
"I would always say I don't want to do television,'' says David, who was instrumental in getting the set of The X-Files transferred from Vancouver to Los Angeles after he started his family, "because I thought that would preclude me from having any other kind of life as a writer, director, movie actor -- father even.''
Luckily, cable hits like The Sopranos and Sex And The City, with their shortened production schedules, paved the way for Californication, which airs on pay-channel Showtime in the US.
"The things that attracted me [to the role], I hate to say, are not going to sound very artistic or noble,'' he admits.
"I could stay at home and be with my family and have a job that was not 10 months of 14-hour days, which is what The X-Files was.''
Hank Moody -- the character David plays on the show -- is also a vast departure from Mulder.
Sweary and promiscuous, he is a celebrated East Coast writer who has relocated to Los Angeles with his family only to develop a severe case of writer's block, and become a one-night stand king after breaking up with his girlfriend (Natascha McElhone), with whom he has a daughter.
The programme was a critical and commercial success in the States and has already been picked up for a second series.
It's the final validation for the actor that despite a variety of different roles since The X-Files finished in 2002, he has moved on from aliens.
"A career is a funny thing,'' he explains. "It goes along at a certain pace and sometimes speeds up and sometimes slows down. A lot of people who have a great success find that next job, that next thing, often a very difficult and scary prospect."
Although Mulder is a seminal character, Duchovny is not concerned that The X-Files' fans will be upset by seeing him in such a different role.
"Mulder's not the only role I've ever played and I don't think people have any kind of proprietary feelings about certain characters that prohibit the actor playing something else later. If I were to do an X-Files movie and Mulder was acting like Hank, then the fans would have some legitimate gripe.''
Fortunately for fans, they are going to get a chance to see whether David adds any Moody characteristics to Mulder, as he has recently signed up to appear in a sequel to 1998's big-screen outing.