Actor In Focus: David Duchovny


As The X-Files revival is slowly approaching, what better time to get to know the man, the myth, the monotone that is David Duchovny. He is widely known for his work in television, portraying two cultural landmarks of characters through Fox Mulder (The X-Files) and Hank Moody (Californication).

Duchovny didn’t originally set out to be an actor. He graduated from Princeton University in 1982 with a B.A. in English Literature. He then went on to receive a Master of Arts in English Literature from Yale University, beginning his Ph.D. thesis but never finishing it. Duchovny had always wanted to be a writer, and still considers himself one. When he deemed that he hadn’t really lived long enough to write a novel yet, he eventually wanted to try and write one-act plays. To help further understand how to write them, he decided to take up acting classes.

In 1987 Duchovny started appearing on several commercials and the next year appeared as an extra in Working Girl (1988). It wasn’t until 1990 where he achieved his first memorable role on the cult show Twin Peaks (1990-91 / 2017-), portraying transvestite DEA Agent Denise/Dennis Bryson. From there, Duchovny portrayed the narrator and host Jake Winters on the Showtime series Red Shoe Diaries (1992-1997), and starred in a few feature films, Julia Has Two Lovers (1991), Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991), The Rapture (1991), Beethoven (1992) and Chaplin (1992).

Kalifornia (1993) gave Duchovny his first success in the film realm, securing a main role acting alongside Brad Pitt as Brian Kessler, a graduate student in psychology and journalism. He and his photographer girlfriend Carrie (Michelle Forbes) travel across the country to research serial killings, and eventually share the journey with a a serial killer (Brad Pitt) and his childlike girlfriend (Juliette Lewis).

But it wasn’t until his portrayal of FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder on The X-Files (1993-2002 / 2016-) that he experienced his big break. Duchovny was thrust into stardom along with co-star Gillian Anderson, both becoming household names in television and cultural touchstones for the 90s. The show became one of the most influential Sci-Fi television shows in history, and is still immensely popular and referenced heavily today in culture.

Duchovny left The X-Files in it’s eighth season in 2001, becoming a recurring character throughout that season and only appearing in the last episode of season nine. He starred in more feature films during and after The X-Files, such as: Playing God (1997), Return to Me (2000), Evolution (2001), Zoolander (2001) and Trust the Man (2005). He returned to television in 2007 on the Showtime success, Californication (2007-2014). Spanning seven seasons, Duchovny portrayed Hank Moody, a successful writer suffering from writers block in Los Angeles. Hank, his partner Karen and their daughter Becca move from New York to California, so that Hank can write a screenplay for one of his books to be turned into a film.

Californication ended its run in 2014, and Duchovny has been extremely busy with other projects since then. He released his first novel, Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale in February of this year, which ended up being on the New York Times Best-Sellers list. He also began learning guitar on the set of Californication, and wrote some songs from his experience of writing poetry. He released his first studio album named Hell or Highwater in May of this year, which consists of 12 songs.

Duchovny is currently starring in the new NBC period cop drama, Aquarius (2015-), which has been picked up for a second season. He is also filming a new season of The X-Files with co-star Gillian Anderson, which is due to air on 24 January, 2016.

Did you know?

  • Duchovny wrote and directed two X-Files episodes, and contributed to the story on a majority of the mythology episodes of the series (from season two onwards). He then went on to direct, write and appear in his own feature film House of D (2005) and also directed multiple Californication episodes. He also executive produced Californication along with his new series, Aquarius.
  • Duchovny is a two time Golden Globe winner, winning Best Actor in a Television Series Drama in 1997 for The X-Files, and Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy in 2008 for Californication. He’s also made it in the comedy world, winning Funniest Male Guest Appearance in a Television Series for his role in The Larry Sanders Show. A favourite show of Duchovny’s, also created by one of his now best friends Gary Shandling.
  • He has a song written about him titled ‘David Duchovny‘ by Bree Sharp. The song was released in 1999, and Duchovny has admitted to knowing the lyrics and jamming out to it in his trailer and car. Duchovny recently invited Sharp to perform the song at one of his book signings for Holy Cow.

Duchovny’s Favourites:

  • Music. Duchovny is an avid music fan with a varied taste. He has particular admiration for The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Warren Zevon, but also loves seventies funk including bands such as Sly and the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder.
  • Gillian Anderson. The two worked together for nine years portraying Mulder and Scully on the original run of The X-Files, and have known each other and been best friends since the early 90s. Even though at times during the shows run they had their differences, it’s understandable since the both of them have stated that they felt as though they were in a ‘forced marriage’; as they spent nearly every day together, which is more time than they’ve spent with some of their own relatives.
  • Characters that allow him to give them pieces of his own personality, mainly his sense of humor, intelligence and wit. You can see this more in his television work, through Fox Mulder on The X Files, Hank Moody on Californication and Sam Hodiak on Aquarius.

The Film You Should Watch: The extremely underrated early 90s flick, Kalifornia (1993)



About Author

A film student stuck in a 90s timewarp of FBI agents, UFOs, conspiracy theories, alternative rock and grunge.

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