Tall, chestnut-haired X-Files star David Duchovny is a man who lives up
to his TV character's moniker in more ways that one. Surely, he has the
sultry good looks any woman would desire in a handsome man, but David
also has the added blessing of being imbued with the sly sexiness which
sneaks up on you so quietly that before you know what's happened, your
heart's already caught-even before you find out about his B.A. from
Princeton and M.A. from Yale, the university where he also taught as an
English Literature professor! In fact, this scholarly stud is only a
dissertation away from a Ph.D. But academia will have to wait, thanks to
the near hysteria of millions of salivating viewers who tune into The
X-Files weekly to watch FBI agent Fox Mulder do what he does best-that is
making women the world over with desire.
I've been lucky enough to have had the pleasure of meeting David several
times before our Playgirl interview, and I can tell you with confidence
that this six-foot gentleman exudes a natural charm and is the possessor
of a quick wit and a dry sense of humor, making him welcome in any crowd.
He can equally make you fell just as comfortable around him., letting you
know that he finds what you have to say important.
Nevertheless, however engaging he may be at the occasional Hollywood
function, the delectable Duchovny is still a man who appreciates a
separation between his public appearances and his private life. Whenever
I'd spot him a local L.A. eatery, he'd do his best to blend in with the
crowd, sporting casual weekend wear topped off with a baseball cap and
sunglasses. With an almost regal detachment, the message was clear: Do
Over the course of the two-day trip to Vancouver, Canada for this
interview, I had a better opportunity to get to know "The Fox," as well
as his cast and crew. And looking up close, I found the man behind "The
Duchovny Grin" to be truly disarming. With a smile that's little off with
a pouty bottom, the result is at once serious and sensuous. His eyes,
large and expressive, are sometimes a soft warm brown and, when catching
the sunlight, seem illuminated with bright green hues.
Arriving at Sound Stage 24 on the backlot of the Steven J. Cannell Studios,
David Duchovny strolls across the lawn to meet and greet the press.
Having just gotten off a plane himself, he seems slightly fatigued.
Dressed in a blue jeans, gray crew-neck T-shirt and a leather bomber
jacket, his over-all look is preppy casual, but his unshaven face casts a
soft shadow, enhancing his strong jawline. His thick hair is a little
tousled, with a few renegade strands spilling onto his forehead. This not
so clean-cut seems to suit him prefectly.
Now that he's single and available (Duchovny recently broke off a
long-term relationship with L.A.-based actress Perrey Reeves), casual
dates or the process of just getting to know someone can get very
complicated. Every woman he's seen with now is touted to be the future
Mrs. Duchovny. "That's just what happens and I think it's only funny if
you're single," he says matter-of-factly. "If you're single, you're not
hurting anybody, so you can walk down the street with a woman and you
read in the paper that you're dating then you're going to marry her. When
you're seriously involved and planning to marry her, then it becomes
hurtful and difficult. Being single isn't a problem, except with things
like the sex-addict label. I don't think people believe that stuff,
anyway. Once you spend any time with a person, they get to know who you
are. Sometimes, you may even become a little isolated and stay inside
because every time you go out, you're making a statement of some kind."
"I just don't like to talk about my personal life. It's an area I don't go
In response to his alleged coupling with Winona Ryder, David is quick to
put the facts straight, saying, "I was just good friends with Winona. I
just don't like to talk about my personal life. It's an area I don't go
A serious expression cast across his handsome face, David continues, "I
feel like we all work so hard and, I don't want to pat myself on the
back, but we give a lot to make the show. What people get from the show
is the show. They don't get me. I have to pull back to take care of
myself. Sometimes, people get angry because they fell that, 'We watch
your show and now give us you.' It's up to me to draw the line. What I
give you is the show, the character. I don't give you an experience of
me. I feel like I give a lot. I get upset and it's too bad when people
thing that I don't give enough because I don't go to conventions or I
don't want to talk about certain things, do certain things. There's
always going to be that misunderstanding.
Privacy, David makes clear, is a key issue in his life. Since 'The
X-Files' has made his life suddenly X-posed, David tires to exhibit grace
under pressure, though he did reveal to us his pet peeve about proving
voyeurs. "Leave me alone when I'm eating. That's just polite, I think. I
never understood people that come up to you while you're eating."
The same holds true when walking down the street. "I like to walk, and
Vancouver's a walking city. Not in L.A. In L.A., I won't tell you where
you're likely to meet me in a restaurant. Vancouver is a place where I
don't get mobbed. They're used to us being here. It's not as simple in
other cities." David's voice rises with annoyance. You don't know what to
call those people who don't have a job but they're walking around with
video cameras and photo cameras and they sell the shoots while trying to
antagonize you into a confrontation. L.A.'s just crawling with that and
it's really uncomfortable. You never get that here. New York and L.A. are
very difficult for me. Too bad for New York, because it's where I grew
up. It's very strange for me to go there and walk down the street and
have people accost me, insisting on taking my picture. It's strange
because I was in New York for 25 years and nobody even looked at me."
A confessed bookworm, this intellectual-turned-thespian enjoys the
challenge of tackling five books at once. "I'm just finishing up two
books called "Out of Carolina" and "The Selfish Gene," which is this book
by Richard Dawkins dating back 25 years. It's about Darwinian biology. Of
course, my sex addict's 'How To' handbook is also lying around, because
I'm not a very good one," he says with a grin.
But, don't get the impression David's got all the time in the world to
practice his high-brow activities. Last summer, he shot the feature film
"Playing God" in Los Angles during his television show's hiatus. In the
movie, which co-stars Angelina Jolie and Timothy Hutton, David portrays
Dr. Eugene Sands, a physician who loses his license after performing an
operation while high on amphetamines. Drifting aimlessly, Sands is lured
deep into the dark side of life where he works as a 'gun-shot' doctor
providing treatment to criminals who won't go to a hospital out of fear
of getting caught. Danger arrives for Sands, however, when he becomes
entangled with his boss' girlfriend.
David confides to us that he didn't make this film looking for a box
office smash. "It's not that kind of movie," he says. "My plan is to be
in a position where I can do the best scripts that are available. It has
nothing to do with trying to make a hit or trying to make myself a movie
star. That's not the point for me. Sometimes I think that I should rest.
I don't know why I don't, but I like to work. In some ways, just playing
a character that wasn't Mulder after three years felt like a rest, even
if it wasn't a physical one. When I came back this year I was mentally
Refreshed and read for the fourth season, David, cast and crew go to
work. "We get along," David says with a natural ease. "But we have our
moments, of course. I think sometimes we all just show up and go,
'Goddammit, I'd rather be anywhere else but here and I'm going to make
you suffer for it.' But then other times, I'll look at Gillian (co-star
Gillian Anderson, who plays FBI agents, Dr. Dana Scully) and I'll think
she's the only one that really knows what I'm going through, and vice
versa. So there's a real bond there. We're all just trying to make it the
best show we can make it. If we keep that common goal in mind, we can
forgive a lot."
"On the outdoor pation of one of Vancouver's trendy eateries, "Skinner"
(co-star) Mitch Pileggi) is trading a few mock punches with David and
demonstrating the choreography behind them. Apparently, David could use a
few pointers. With Mitch and I as his audience, David reenacts the time
he used a telephone receiver to clobber a colleague in a scene. Though
the actor apparently didn't mind getting hammered by Fox Mulder, David
apologized profusely for the accidental physical assault. However, being
a "method actor," the man wouldn't let the realism of the moment be
halted. "Keep rolling!" he called as he staggered around the set.
Filming 12-plus per day, sometimes six days a week, 10 months out of the
year can be grueling, especially on a show that's mostly heavy drama. So,
ti's no surprise that the cast makes a point of finding ways to release
the daily tension. What exactly are the methods of comic relief? Agents
Mulder and Skinner break out in a broad grin. "We have some pretty funny
gag reels," says David mischievously. After recounting some of the stunts
pulled from the outtakes, we get to view a gag sampling the next day.
Here's Fox Mulder in a serious scene. It's dark. He's in a car with a male
passenger. The dialogue is heavy. Mulder looks to his passenger, tells
him he's a good-looking guy, grabs him by the neck and shoves his neck
into his lap. "Cut!" Another scene has Skinner and Mulder in the FBI
office. "Action!" Tired of having to do another physical take, Mulder
shoves Skinner towards the desk, lassos him with his belt and gets ready
to take him from behind. "Cut!" This usually results in the cast and crew
roaring with laughter. Final touches are put on these reels where no one
is spared, not Gillian, creator Chris Carter or director Rob Bowman. The
reels are then pulled out for the year-end wrap parties.
The party isn't over for "The X-Files" anytime soon, however. Under a
five year contract, David hopes to see the show continue on as periodic
specials. Important to all is that the quality and integrity of the
series remains. In the meantime, he's adamant about keeping Fox Mulder
interesting and believable, and tells us, "Depending on the story, it's
about bringing out shades, certain things to the forefront. If you ever
stop to think what the show is often about, you'd say, I'd never watch
a show like that" It can get kind of silly if you just laid it out on
a page. It's the actor's job to make it real and involving." Describing
how he'd do just that, David says, "Every show has an arc and I try to
maintain that arc. Personally, I just try to come up with some emotional
parallels to my own life that actually work. That's hard to do and you
have to make it real or else people are going to laugh at it."
Another parallel from this life is that of teacher. It's the only thing
he misses from academia. "As an actor," he explains, "I find that what I
do is very similar because you're trying to express something - trying to
convey something. As a teacher, I was probably too much of a performer,
and as an actor, I'm probably too much of a teacher. I'm trying to find a
way down the middle."
"I'm not a sex addict. I have never been to those meetings. It's a very funny term,
and we can laugh it off, but it's not funny when you see it in the press."
At 36, David has no regrets about the path he's chosen. "I started acting
when I was 26, which I guess is kind of old to start. I never though that
it was going to be a career, really. I just thought I was doing something
that was helping me as a person, but once I started auditioning and I
started trying to get work as actor, I just kind of had a feeling that
things would work out for me in some way."
Yet fame has it's price. "You hear famous people say, 'Oh, woe is me,'"
he says reflecting. "I'm famous, and yet until you're famous, you can't
imagine it. I never really thought of it in any kind of realistic way. I
just thought about doing my job and then seeing what happens. Becoming
famous is a major life experience so you just learn how to deal with it.
You can't be taught how to deal with it - you make your mistakes and you
try to learn from them. Unfortunately, you're making mistakes in front of
a lot of people."
There's only time for a few more questions - including the one most
Playgirl readers have been dying to have answered. What about all these
rumors hitting the papers alleging that David Duchovny is a sex addict?
With a self-mocking grin he replies, "I just want to make love to them
all... Again, I don't know where that would have come from, except that
I'm single and I had a long-term girlfriend up until last November. I
have been seen with more than one woman in the last few months, so I'm an
easy target for those kind of things. As far as sex addiction, that's a
serious business with all these Twelve Step programs. Not only is there
Alcoholics Anonymous, but other programs have expanded from substance
abuse to any kind of compulsive behavior.
"It's actually a legitimate concern for a lot of people who feel that
they have compulsive sexual behavior. I'm not a sex addict. I have never
been to those meetings. It's a very funny term, and we can laugh it off,
but it's not funny when you see it in the press. And it hurts people.
It's hurtful to my family and if I was involved with a woman in a
monogamous relationship, it would be hurtful to her. There was another
story claiming I was a neat freak. If I had to choose one of the two, I
think I'd rather be a sex addict. It's not funny and I'll be glad when it
Although the scrumptious actor is obviously not a sex addict, he
definitely is chockful of simmering appeal. What kind of woman does a
certified sex symbol look for?
"Someone who is self-sufficient, who has a career of her own. I am not
one of those people who's attracted to specifics. I don't need to take
care of anybody. I don't want to take care of anybody. I don't want to
take care of anybody, unless I have children and then I'll take care of
them. A sense of humor is very important, as is compassion. And, "he adds
jokingly, "she must have a driver's license."
Dunlevy, Dagmar. April 1997. "The Fox-Files." Playgirl.