David Duchovny interview

As you will have seen in the pages of SFX, earlier this year we were able to go on set for the filming of the new X-Files sequel in Vancouver. Some of the interview material is available to read in the current edition of SFX magazine (SFX 172 contained profiles of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson ) but we thought you might like to read bonus answers from the actor who plays Fox Mulder here on the website.

Does it seem like old times?
David Duchovny:
"The first couple of weeks it felt like déjà vu but now it's just the business of making a movie! I've been back in Vancouver a few times since we were last here, so that kind of took away the reunion feel to it. So aside from not being with my wife and kids, I love being in Vancouver, so it's always good to come up here, I have a lot of friends up here."

The plot has been kept under wraps - is there anything you can tell us about the film's themes?
"The reasoning behind staying mum is to give an audience an experience of surprise which is so hard to do these days with trailers and everything. If you go in knowing what the story is it won't be as much of a surprise so Chris Carter wants to keep that secret as long as possible. Having said that the themes are the same now as they always were in the show - themes of belief and faith and about the relationship between Mulder and Scully and how that's developed over the past few years since the show's been off the year. As if they've been living like we've all been living, they're not stuck in time, they've been off in some realm just like we all have. Yet their issues remain the same."

Is Mulder not a changed person six years later?
"In my experience things don't change that much. You'll have to see. We are affected by things that happen but does character change? It's my life experience that character doesn't change."

So how excited were you to get back into this character?
"I was very excited to do it and then as it approached nearer I wondered if I needed to work more, to get back into it. So there was a certain amount of fear that maybe I'd changed… [Laughs] Okay, sounds like I'm going back on my word! I thought maybe my range or my interests might have changed. So maybe this character might have represented a narrower box to the one that I'd been working in these past four or five years. So it was about how to bring what I'd learned these past few years into this box. When he started there was a boyishness to the guy which I don't think I can play any more - I think it's like watching Mel Gibson's Hamlet: it was a good performance but he's like 20 years too old. There are things like that, certain kind of things energy-wise, not just looks. So how has this guy grown up a little bit? You wonder about that. Remaining the same guy, how do you ease him in to a different stage in his life? That's a creative endeavour certainly for Chris Carter, very different from anything he's done."

Mulder always had a dry sense of humour. Is there comedy in this film?
"There's always a place for that, we were always looking for a place for it in the TV show, and it's an essential part of the character and I certainly always look for those moments. It's always a matter of balancing the tone. If Mulder is being funny does it deflate the danger of the scene? It was my opinion that it never did. But certainly Chris Carter and other creatives may have different ideas. I always like to have some funny stuff in there."

Why does it work for you artistically now to make an X-Files movie?
"I felt always that at any time it would have been fine, whenever Chris was ready to come up with a script. As actors our burn out was probably a little shorter than his; he carried a heavier load, producing and writing and directing. It took me about a year to feel whole after the show was over! So after that point I was ready and it was always my desire that the show would continue on in movie form. It was never my intention, when I left the television series, to sabotage the show in any way. It was a case of us having done all we could on television - let's take it into movies like we always said that we would."

"There were nine years of one hour episodes. I can't think of another show that did that with the same cast (even though I wasn't in most of the ninth year). You look at any long running drama, I think in trying to tell new stories you ultimately reach further and further in all directions. If [fans] fell in love with the show for the premise and for the execution and the writing then that's what we're back to now. This is more of a story that we would have told in seasons three or four."

Are you worried about being typecast in this role?
"I gave up worrying about the phenomenon of typecasting a while ago. It happens across the board not just in terms of television shows: comedy actors get stuck in comedy, dramatic actors can't do comedy, all this stuff. There are a lot of people - actors with great careers - who have done just two or three roles! Unless you're Brando or something there are very few people who have done so much different stuff that it's hard to know what to yell at them in the street. [Laughs] So I don't worry about that. What overcomes that is my sense of love for the show and my belief in its legitimacy as a movie franchise, with a lot to offer: the thriller aspect, the horror aspect, an intelligence, this great frame of a man and a woman, their belief. All of these things make it a very fertile area to move on in."

Have you had any input in the script?
"Not in the initial conception or the first writing of it. Hardly at all. We kind of signed off on the script right as the writers strike happened. We had discussions about particular scenes and things we might try but you know it’s a tightly plotted thriller - there's not a lot of re-writing that should be done. If it's tightly plotted enough the story drives it forward, so it's not a form that tolerates improvisation. And it was well enough put together when it was presented to me and Gillian that I feel there's really nothing to add."

Has the dialogue between you and Chris Carter changed at all?
"I have ways I like to work, and he has ways he likes to work, and they're not always the same. But privately and with respect we deal with it: that's a matter of being a professional too. It's like telling a lover, 'You know with that finger there, that wasn't great - I know a lot of people like it, but not me personally, just so you know.' [Laughs] So I know how I like to work: I know how I like the director's hands on me!"

Did you have a lot of fun with Billy Connolly?
"Yeah, he's a terrific guy and a terrific actor. Just a great person to be around, always interesting and energetic and funny off set. And a great character. I can't understand what he's saying… [Laughs] But he appears to be a nice guy!"

SFX: Thank you David Duchovny!

The X-Files: I Want To Believe opens at cinemas in the UK on Friday 1 August 2008. Find out more about David Duchovny at this fan news page , or check out the official movie site here . Remember, you can read more from this interview (as well as an interview with co-star Gillian "Scully" Anderson) in issue 172 of SFX magazine, which is only available for a few more days. Click here to subscribe to SFX and receive future editions at a bargain price - and get a free gift while stocks last too!