TNT's Rough Cut Chat with David Duchovny

At the end of the show, there's a certain level of expectation from you guys. Now you've got a movie coming out. Can you talk a little bit about what you were thinking?

I think the challenge for everybody was, "How do we make this satisfying for the fans who are numerous and for the non-fans who are numerous, also?" I was actually talking to Téa (Leoni, his wife) when we were doing the film, and I had this thought which was: the people that aren't fans of the show are not just not fans of the show, they are actively not fans of the show. Because we've been doing the show for five years, we've been on the cover of every magazine there is, we've been all over the place, there's no way you could have escaped that we exist. Therefore, if you have, that means you've got to look at me, you've got to look at Gillian, you took a look at the show once and you said, "This stinks!" Therefore, these were the people that we were actually going after, which seemed to me totally perverse that we were trying to make a movie to get people that had done their darndest to get away from us. So, we will not rest until we get everybody!

I think that the balancing act of the movie was to please the die-hard fans and these people that obviously have no interest in this kind of a show or else they'd be fans by now. And I actually think that we did, in terms of story and in terms of giving fans some extra stuff that they don't get on the TV show, but also of taking care of the back story of the movie and introducing characters that are five years old which is a tricky act in itself.


We heard that Gillian slammed you up against a wall and planted one on you.

Am I supposed to be playing along with something I don't know?

No, I swear to god. Rob [Bowman], (the film's director) just told us that.

Rob's just being cute.

So, it didn't happen?

No.

Swear to god?

Yeah. No, we did a little funny take where I kind of jacked her up against the wall and started, you know, doing the old.... Help me out.

Tongues?

No, we were acting like it was gross carnal coupling. You know, it was a joke for the crew and for us. The actual kissing, that was never a part of the movie, so we never would have shot that. No, the only time we did that was as a joke. Gillian and I did it to our liking, and then I said, "Let's do one where we're up against the wall here." We were outside of the cameras' view, actually, at that point. So that's not even on film, I don't think.

David, what kind of movies did you watch?

I didn't go to the movies that often, but I remember seeing McHale's Navy, a TV franchise that became a movie. I liked the Saturday matinee, "Sunday At Home." Like Abbott and Costello, I watched a lot of Abbott and Costello. I liked scary movies like a lot of kids. I remember seeing a Steve McQueen movie and being moved in some way. And I remember seeing a movie about a woman that killed people and buried them in her garden. It was terrifying to me. All I remember is that she smacked some woman over the head with a telephone receiver and killed her with that. That was one of her murders. But I remember walking home after that, just terrified. And I went to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre with my brother. And he was relentless after that. You know, he'd come up behind me and go like "Vroooom" for months. And I would jump. That was very scary to me, that movie.

What does it do to you now that you know you're giving children nightmares with the show?

Well, I guess I don't feel guilty, because I know that those nightmares didn't last that long. I guess it's possible that somebody's might, but I just remember that feeling of wanting to run like when you're watching a really scary movie. As a kid, you really believe it. It was so exciting to just be that scared. You hated it, but you just had to stay there.

That brings up an interesting point, though. I was saying to Gillian that I was shocked that my seven-year-old niece feels that she has to watch "The X-Files" every Sunday.

I don't think that's so shocking to me because I think that kids aren't really hung up on story. I mean, if you've ever had a conversation with a kid, you know that the beginning, middle and end is not that important. You know, it's kind of one long "and then... and then... and then... and then... and then... and then..." It's not like a narrative. It's just chronological. I think they watch it because it's moody and it feels scary, even if they don't understand why it is. It's like it feels spooky, and I think kids like that. And I think it's even better if they don't get it, because then they're not really scared, they're just kind of involving themselves with the adults. I'm not advocating that this is a good show to have your kid watch in any way.

What are your thoughts on the developing relationship?

A few years ago I think I realized that, you know, you want as an actor to try new things on the show. For instance, it would be new if Mulder and Scully had a relationship and then didn't. And then did, or whatever. That would be fun as an actor to play. It would be different from what I normally do on the show. But then you realize that you're servicing the show and not servicing yourself, you know? And that you kind of grow up as an actor, and you go, "Well, my job is to make the show the best that it can be, not to show off what I can do." And I like the way it progresses. I like that there isn't a love relationship. I like that it's not about the relationship. It's about the story, and the relationship develops through the story, not vice versa. All that now seems to me right, whereas I would have chaffed against it at some other time.

There is a certain chemistry between Mulder and Scully that we're led to believe doesn't exist between Duchovny and Anderson.

Well, that's just something we do, because we want people to think we're really good actors.

She does it really well, though. She kind of alluded to the fact that you guys didn't get along.

You know, you have a working relationship with somebody that, over a period of time, gets strained. We've had five years together, very closely working together. I can't psychoanalyze Gillian, but I would say, she just wants people to know that she's a person with her own feelings, and that's one way for her to say that I'm more than Scully. Her not wanting to comment on that is like saying, "I have a life going on here that's more than Scully, or is more than the show and I want to be taken seriously."

Do you have fan encounters, or encounters with people that are actually living out this paranoia?

I don't have that many encounters any more, just because I'm protected by a posse, you understand. So, it's hard to get to me. Hard to even slip me a note. So I have less contact with those folks. Chris, I believe, actively seeks them out because it makes him feel kind of important. You know, because he is important to those people. I think there are a lot of people who go further than even our show goes. And God knows, maybe they're right. I don't know.

What about the ickiness factor of the show. Is there anything that has been a little too gross for you?

Yeah. Catering occasionally.

I wasn't a big fan of the maggots, but I'm not that easy. I'm not like steel, but I'm not that easy to gross out, and a lot of the times, the stuff that appears gross at home is corn starch and water on stage and it's not gross at all. You know, the gooey stuff, it's all sugar, basically. As sweet as can be.


What about the Vanity Fair cover? There were flies all over you. Were those real?

Yeah, yeah. But they were dead. I mean, if you would have been able to get those flies on me live, I would have been grossed out by the substance they would have had to put on me to get the flies to land on me, if you catch my drift. There's an old saying, and in fact, that was one of my concerns... What is your point here in this photograph? Like flies on Duchovny?

Conspiracy is so much a part of the story tradition. Are you working with Oliver Stone?

You know, I'm not going to get a chance to, because I've got too much X-Files to do. That's my main problem with "The X-Files." You know, sometimes it gets reported that I don't like the show, or I don't like Gillian or I don't like Chris or whatever, but it's really that I don't have time.

Do you ever get tired of playing Mulder?

Yeah, yeah. Exactly. I believe the show is really well written. If I had Shakespeare writing me, this show, I think I would still say, "You know, Bill, it's been five years. Hamlet was good, but this last one is not that good." I'd be tired of it. And I think that's just the nature of wanting to go out and do other things.

One more season and then just do movies?

Oh, I would have preferred this last year to be the end, but I don't get to make that decision.

What about the fact that you are a funny guy and you do have a great knack for comedy, do you ever feel kind of stuck in the serious game?

Sure. The only problem, and I'll say it again and again, is the fact that it takes 10 months out of a year to do. For instance, Téa's show took seven months. Sitcoms take seven to eight months. Other ensemble dramas take 10 months, but they're ensembles. So, George Clooney can go and do Batman or Hiding in Sight. What's the name of it?

Out of Sight.

Out of Sight. So he can go off and do that. Also, because he lives in Los Angeles. Which is one of the reasons why I was interested in bringing the show back here. So, it really just becomes about time. And then when you factor in, you know, you want to have a family life or a personal life, then it becomes really difficult to satisfy the demands of a television show like "The X-Files" and satisfy your own creativity in your own life. So, that's why I would like to see it turn into a movie franchise, because I don't necessarily want to say good-bye to it because I love the show and I love the character, but I just don't want to give it all I have.

Have you got another film brewing, looming somewhere in the future?

There's some things percolating. Hovering. Looming. Whispering. But, I would have really loved to do that Oliver Stone movie. I don't know, there's a few different things that I'm thinking about, but you really can't do it unless you're doing cameos. Unless you're doing a week here, a week there. You can't get serious about it until you have time. And I don't have time. So, I can do "Larry Sanders," I can go do "Saturday Night Live," or Gillian can go and do two weeks on a movie here and there, but if you're talking about trying to do something like Playing God, which was one of the reasons why I thought it didn't come out fully formed, was, you know, I only had five weeks to do it, I only had three months to plan it. So I don't want to make that mistake again. You know? As long as I'm doing the TV show, I don't really have the time to focus on a movie and be a star of that movie, be the lead of that movie the way I want to.

But you have talked about this particular franchise turning into like a Star Trek where we're going to see movies every few years.

It's my feeling that it will. I think the characters are interesting enough. I think the people are motivated enough. Chris is interested enough in that happening. I would be surprised if it didn't. And therefore, it will be fun to continue on in this job in a form that's less demanding of my time.

 
 
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