It’s not easy to open a movie the same weekend Will Ferrell does and David Duchovny probably knows this. Still, he’s opening the second X-Files flick (X-Files: I Want To Believe), one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. It’s helmed by series creator Chris Carter and features him again as Fox Mulder, a role Duchovny (correctly) describes as “iconic.” We chatted with the former HS and college hoops player in advance of the release about his erratic shooting touch, J’ing one in Reggie Miller’s grill, his appreciation of Mel Stottlemyre, and which baseball player is most like Gillian Anderson. After the interview, while researching this, we learned that Duchovny’s wife Tea Leoni is one of the best celebrity golfers. We definitely should have asked about that.
The Mag: Let’s start with career. Films only, what do you consider your best role?
Duchovny: That’s a tough one. I don’t even remember what I’m working on now. (laughs) I’m always trying to perfect the romantic comedy, though. I might say Return to Me.
Fox Mulder is iconic, so I’d have to go with that.
We did an informal office poll earlier and people said Return to Me and X-Files as well.
At ESPN? Really? I guess I’m among my demographic.
Do you get a lot of people talking about your role on Sex and the City?
No, barely ever.
(laughs) I’d honestly kinda forgotten I did that.
Sports now: you play any as a kid?
Basketball, through high school and one year of college.
How would you classify yourself?
An erratic shooting guard.
We’ve seen you in a bunch of celebrity hoops games over the years. Any good stories?
The first year of X-Files, I was in MTV’s Rock-N-Jock game. Whoever was coaching the game kept me on the bench pretty much the whole time. I was getting so pissed off and hated the whole thing; I thought it would be real basketball and I get there and there’s a 30-foot-high rim and all that. I’m supposed to pass the ball over to Queen Latifah? I’m never coming back to this thing. Finally the coach puts me in, and there’s not much time left, and my only thought is: I gotta score. I can’t leave here without scoring. I get the ball near the top of the key, and Reggie Miller’s running at me with his hands up. I just step back and drain one, right over Reggie Miller. I hated him at the time, too, so it was sweet.
Yea. But then right after the game, he comes up to me and goes, “I’m such a big fan of you.” It was the first year of the show and I wasn’t known well, so immediately I’m thinking, “I really like Reggie Miller.”
Speaking of that, what makes the X-Files as popular as it is?
At the time, there wasn’t another show like it; there was still a vacuum that hadn’t been filled since Twilight Zone. We kept getting better and better. As a team, we just jelled—we kicked ass for about 7-8 years in there.
So if X-Files is a baseball organization, who’s Chris Carter?
We were spending so much money on that show; I mean, TV doesn’t spend the kind of money we got to spend. So I’m going to liken Carter to George Steinbrenner.
What about Gillian Anderson?
Good one. I’d say Mariano Rivera. She’s just “The Closer.”
Personal favorite episode?
I’ve got about 10. I wrote and directed one with a sports theme, The Unnatural. That’s in there.
You’re a big Yankees fan. What do you think of the current team?
They have a lot of great players; I just want to feel they’re a team. They may be a cohesive team but I’m not feeling it. They flirt with .500 but I think they’re better than that.
What’s your earliest memory as a Yankee fan?
Mickey Mantle and Mel Stottlemyre. Just being in love with both of them. Stottlemyre especially. The season McLain won 30, I remember Stottlemyre beat him. I was watching it on my black and white TV. I honestly Australian used to online casino cry when casino Stottlemyre lost. Just in the last year or so I stopped crying when something bad happened to his staffs. I’m a man now.
So he’s your favorite all-time Yankee?
Emotionally, I got wrapped up in him. He’s one of those guys on the cusp of the Hall of Fame; he was really, really good, and could have been great. Mantle could also be my favorite Yankee.
Any of the stuff in Ball Four make you think differently about Mantle?
Not at all. It’s more impressive he could do some of the stuff he did hungover.
Quick hitters: best sports movie of all-time?
I’d say Brian’s Song or Field of Dreams.
What do you think Tea Leoni’s best role ever is?
Flirting with Disaster, probably.
Who’s the best athlete out of anyone you’ve worked with?
Whoa, that’s a tough one.
Yea, it stumps people.
Hmmm. (pause) You know what? Orlando Jones is a really good baller. I’d go with him.