"Like Mulder, I believe that we are probably not alone. It doesn't really make sense that this would be the only planet with life. Yet if we have been contacted by aliens, I don't believe that anybody could have kept that a secret."
David Duchovny got his shot at stardom on the hugely popular TV series The X-Files, where he scored as FBI Agent Fox Mulder, the intrepid conspiracy theorist who risked his life investigating paranormal and extraterrestrial phenomena along with partner Agent Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson.
They took their search to the big screen ten years ago, and now the pair are back in a sequel X-Files: I Want To Believe. Duchovny is doing his best to make sure that you won't know exactly what to expect until you get to the theater.
A cloud of secrecy that might get Agent Mulder's attention has surrounded this movie.
"It's funny. People seem to think we've adopted a conspiracy of silence about it. I just don't think it's a good idea to tell you what happens in the movie because it will spoil all the surprises. I don't want to know what happens in any movie that I go to see."
How about a few clues?
"There's a clue in the title. 'I Want to Believe' was on a poster that Mulder had hanging in his office at the FBI during the TV series. There's a struggle in the movie between faith and science. At the heart of the story is a supernatural phenomenon that you either believe in or you don't, and Mulder and Scully approach it in different ways. Her Catholicism has always kind of counterbalanced Mulder's belief in other things."
After all these years, did stepping back into the character come easily?
"I thought I would fall back into Mulder very naturally, but at first, it felt a little odd. I was filming in Vancouver for two weeks before Gillian Anderson came on the set. I was just running my butt off and I don't run like I used to, so I pulled a muscle. But then Gillian arrived, and it seemed like we'd come back from summer hiatus on the TV series. That's when I started to discover Mulder again for real instead of kind of faking it like I was doing in those running scenes."
Mulder is a little older if not wiser. Has he grown since you first played him?
"When I have the misfortune of catching a re-run of one of the early X-Files,—like from 1993—and I see myself I just think, 'Thank God that I got the chance to continue to work and figure out what kind of an actor I am.' The guy that I see on the screen in '93 is just barely hanging on. Fifteen years later it's a whole different ballgame. It's night and day the way that I work as an actor."
There have been rumors that Mulder and Scully have some passionate physical contact this time around.
"I'm not saying. But I will say it's always been an old-fashioned romance where intimacy comes through looks, or holding hands or kisses on the forehead. Mulder and Scully are meant for each other but there's always an obstacle that threatens their relationship and this movie is very much about that obstacle. It's a thriller and kind of a horror movie, but while this horrifying stuff is going on you've got these two people sort of trying to figure out where they're at with each other."
Have you ever had any real life experiences with the paranormal?
"No. But like Mulder I believe that we are probably not alone. It doesn't really make sense that this would be the only planet with life. Yet if we have been contacted by aliens I don't believe that anybody could have kept that a secret. I don't believe in a conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrial life. Of course, there's always the possibility that the aliens have been taking our memories away."
As your fame and celebrity have grown, do you sometimes feel a little like an alien yourself?
"Sometimes I guess. It's a weird transition that you have to make. Without whining and without making myself a tragic figure, there is no replacement for the loss of your privacy. It's a huge sacrifice. You didn't know it was gonna be that way and you didn't ask for it. You didn't say, ' Please take away my privacy.' And once it's gone, there's no underestimating how painful and strange it is."
How do your feel about the growing boldness of the paparazzi?
"What has to stop is not the picture-taking but the intrusion into peoples' lives and the lack of respect for human decency. People will say to me, 'Well, why don't you just pose for five minutes and then they'll leave you alone.' That's not true. They still chase your car down the street. 98% of the people in the world are harmless and wish you well, but it only takes one person who doesn't. That's what you're constantly on guard against."