How David Duchovny’s Love Of Television Brought Him Back To “The X-Files”
The 54-year-old Aquarius star talks to BuzzFeed News about the ever-evolving state of network television and how the upcoming X-Files reboot plays into it.
May 1, 2015
When The X-Files ended in 2002, David
Duchovny wanted to choose a role that was 180 degrees away from FBI
Agent Fox Mulder, the beloved character he’d played on Fox’s sci-fi
drama for nine seasons. “When I finished X Files, I probably thought, I don’t want to do that anymore,” he admitted to BuzzFeed News during a party for his upcoming NBC series Aquarius at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles this week.
Duchovny found a role that could combat the typecasting that followed the show’s global success on Showtime’s Californication
— a boundary-pushing comedy where he played Hank Moody, a writer
battling sex, drug, and alcohol addiction. “I don’t think it’s
necessarily smart, but it worked out,” he said of intentionally choosing
a part that couldn’t have been further from his alien-obsessed lawman.
“I don’t think you should be reacting to what you’ve done. I think there
are more interesting and better criteria to choose projects from.”
Now, Duchovny’s in a place where he can use more interesting criteria to choose his roles (see Aquarius), but he’s also not afraid to return to the show people know him best for. “Because of Californication
being such a different role and being seen in a whole other light as an
actor, it kind of liberated me from feeling any kind of fears of being
typecast,” Duchovny said.
The actor is stepping back into Mulder’s shoes for the recently announced X-Files reboot, a six-episode limited series that he described as a six-hour movie. “I’ll always be remembered for The X-Files,
probably more than anything else — that’s just the way it is,” he said.
“But I’m not afraid of people just seeing me that way anymore, so I was
happy to go back.”
And the latest new project to meet Duchovny’s more carefully thought out criteria is Aquarius,
NBC’s a ’60s-set mystery exploring the legend of serial killer Charles
Manson. The network television landscape has changed significantly since
Duchovny signed off The X-Files. The appointment viewing that
made that show a Friday-night obsession has become obsolete in today’s
time-shifting, binge-watching world, leaving traditional networks
scrambling for innovative ways to lure their evaporating audiences back.
NBC has made the boldest play thus far, announcing that all 13 episodes
of Aquarius will be released online following the May 28 series premiere.
It’s an unprecedented move for a new network series and one Duchovny
is excited yet confounded by. “I’m told it’s a vote of confidence,” the
actor said. “But, to be honest with you, I don’t really understand all
these things. I have a 16-year-old daughter, and I’ve never seen her
watch television. She watches everything on her computer, and that’s so
totally foreign to me. The whole world is very foreign to me. I’m happy
about it but I don’t, honestly, know what it means.”
But Duchovny is more than happy to take this leap of faith and serve
as the network’s guinea pig, because NBC has lived up to its word since
greenlighting Aquarius. “I assumed it would air on HBO or AMC or
FX,” he said of signing on the project before a network had committed.
“That was always our thinking, because it’s obviously a cable show. And
then when we put it out there to bidders, NBC jumped up and said they
wanted to do it and we all kind of stepped back and went, ‘Oh, OK.’
Networks have been saying they wanted to do cable-type shows, but could
we make the show we wanted to make on a network? A lot of these networks
say they want to do programming like this, but then they don’t.”
Save for a few minor concessions related to
language, nudity, and violence, Duchovny feels NBC has delivered on
every promise. “Hopefully we’ll succeed, and they’ll keep trying to make
programming that can compete with cable,” he said.
“I think it’s a great time to be somebody who wants to either act or
produce or write or direct in television, because it’s so wide open,”
Duchovny said. “There’s so many different places to take your work,
there’s so much product that’s in demand, and there are so many people
that are wanting to hire people to do their work. People say it’s the
golden age of television, but it’s really the golden age of wanting
to make television. … To do something great, I think you need that
freedom, and there’s a greater chance of finding that on television.”
And that’s all Duchovny really wants for himself. “I’ve always just
tried to be a part of entertaining and good projects, but I’m really
flying by the seat of my pants,” he said.
I also know some of what Chris has wanted to do, and which he initially steered me away from in the comics stories… so I’m excited about what I think is somewhat privileged information to finally play out.
This is Joe Harris, who writes The X-Files Season 10 comics, talking about plot lines Chris Carter wanted Harris to avoid in the comics. That means CC has been thinking about the next set of XF storylines for a while. I really hope you’ve put some thought into them, Chris. And maybe run them by a few people to make sure they’re not completely nuts. (See also: Supersoldiers.)