David Duchovny interview

An exclusive chat with David Duchovny about X-Files: I Want to Believe, directing, writing poetry and why Mulder is a Border Collie

The X-Files: I Want to Believe is out on extras-packed DVD and Blu-ray this week, reuniting Scully and a beardy Mulder for a terrifying mystery in the snowy wastes of rural Virgina. To mark the occasion 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has given us this exclusive interview with man behind old spooky Mulder himself, David Duchovny. For a full list of the mighty stash of goodies available on the discs click here .

How difficult was it to reprise the role of Mulder?

“Since I didn’t think of it as reprising the role, it wasn’t difficult. I didn’t want to do an imitation of something I did six years ago. I started playing him 15 years ago and if I’d have looked back on how I played this character in 1993 it would be very different to how I was playing him by 1998. He evolves but the central character doesn’t change. When we meet Mulder in this movie he’s actually not doing what we’ve seen him do before – he’s being a boyfriend now. The joy he takes in this movie is in rediscovering his true nature and his true passion for the work. It’s very relatable – finding that balance, for all of us, for people that like their work. If you have a relationship, how do you balance it with your work, especially when one guy’s kind of obsessive about it. Its fifteen years since I started and the Mulder we meet in this is not the Mulder we know. It’s kind of liberating not having to reprise him, although as I say, the essential character remains the same.”

Mulder’s not doing what he used to do, are there any other differences in him? He doesn’t look much older!

“He’s got that silly beard! He’s really chosen to have a relationship – Scully hasn’t given up her work, she’s a doctor. If Mulder’s not doing his work, what’s he going to do – bartend? We don’t want to see Mulder doing that.”

What was he doing when we first see him in the movie?

“Obsessing on his own! Growing his beard! I have a dog that is fourteen and a half and she’s half Border Collie and Chris (Carter) has had a Border Collie and when we started talking about doing the movie, I said Mulder reminded me of a Border Collie who was living in a city. If you know the nature of these dogs, they just want to work, they just want to communicate and if they’re not rounding up sheep they just want a job, even if it’s catching Frisbees. For me, Mulder is like that at the beginning of the film – he needs to focus on something and he gets that.”

How easy was it to get the chemistry back with Gillian Anderson?

“It’s not something I’ve ever thought about and hopefully will never have to think about. We have the added benefit of having a history and of knowing each other for 15 years and working very closely together for nine years very intensely, a lot of hours, every day, so we actually have a history and that’s what chemistry is – the appearance of a relationship. We just let it take care of itself.”

Can we talk about the difficulties of the shoot?

“They were mainly just physical. For me as an actor, playing Mulder in this movie it was probably less emotional than some of the other ones I’ve done. I don’t have a relationship with anyone in this movie apart from Scully. With regard to my personal connection to the other characters like Father Joe – there is none, I just want to know if he’s telling the truth or not. I don’t look at his behavior in the way Scully does. I just want to know if he’s full of shit or not. I just had to make sure I got it emotionally right in those scenes with Scully. What’s challenging is trying to gauge the character’s ongoing maturity. In terms of scene by scene I’ve been challenged more. The physical was tough because it was cold and snowy. Though it was more difficult for the crew because they had to move heavy stuff around in those conditions.”

Why has it taken so long to do a second movie?

“To me it doesn’t seem that long if you consider we ended the show in 2002. There was a certain amount of burn-out and centrifugal force that was spinning us all in different directions. Chris (Carter) had run the show for nine years and it was all very intensive so I don’t think he would have been prepared to do anything for at least a couple of years. Gillian didn’t want to revisit it for a few years and neither did I. When I left the show I talked about how I couldn’t do it anymore on a day-to-day basis but we should do it as another movie.”

You’re an English literature graduate. Have you ever written stories like this and what can you say about the script?

“It’s actually a deceptively complicated movie about human relationships in a genre that rarely deals with those things. I’m sure a film like the new Batman doesn’t address the eternal conundrum of love and work balance between a man and a woman. I’m impressed by the emotionality of it.

“When we were doing the series I wrote some of the episodes. This script is a paranormal, mystery story but it’s also on a very human scale. There’s almost a soap opera playing and the case pushes these two people apart then together and the two people coming together pushes the case forward or back – it’s very interesting the way their relationship pushes the case and the case pushes the relationship.”

Do you think the hardcore X-Files fans will be pleased with the movie as much as the newcomers?

“I hope so. It’s hard to satisfy all of anything. I doubt I could satisfy all of my family and that’s only four people, so it’s daunting to think about satisfying a lot of people. I think there are qualities to this movie that are essentially X-Files qualities that people will remember and if they loved the show they’ll love that but also, by necessity, coming six years after the show, the decision had to be made and I think it’s the correct decision, to make the movie understandable to someone who never saw an episodes of The X-Files.”

You’ve written and directed some of the episodes of the series and your own feature, would you like to direct more?

“Yeah, always. I also directed an episode of Californication.”

Do you have a dream role you’d like to play as an actor?

“If I knew it I’d create it. For some reason all my ideas are about female characters. I come up with stuff for my wife all the time and nothing for myself and that really upsets me! I don’t know why I can’t come up with a dream man’s role.”

Does it bother you that most people remember you for The X-Files when you’ve done so much other work?

“Any actor goes from role to role. All actors have more successful roles and less successful roles. Take someone like DeNiro who has had an extremely varied career but you can still say, will he ever get away from Taxi Driver? He’s done so much else but everybody gets associated with something and I’d rather get associated with something successful than with something humiliating, so I’m OK with it!”

How much does the character of Mulder stay with you?

“He doesn’t unless I happen to wear his clothes home by mistake. I don’t take any character home with me - that’s not the way I work. When I’m working I’m working, when I’m not I’m not.”

When you’re not working, what do you do?

“I think about work! No, I spend time with my family, I write, I relax, just simple stuff really. I don’t hang glide or ride motorcycles, there’s nothing I can tell you that’s very interesting about what I do!”

Do you still write poetry?

“I have big gaps between writing it. I’m on a long break between poems!”

Do you enjoy directing?

“When I was doing House of D I was happier than I’ve ever been in this business. I like to be involved.”

What do you like about your character in Californication?

“I like the freedom of a guy who has nothing left to lose – or he thinks he has nothing left to lose. That’s not a fun place to be as a person but it’s a fun place to be for an actor because you can say and do anything.”

Does writing and directing change you as an actor?

“On a practical level yes. I’m never late anymore! That can really screw the day up for a director and I didn’t really get that until I’d directed. Before, I was habitually ten or 15 minutes late. I take much more notice of blocking a scene now as well.”

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