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  • From Playgirl, April 1997

    The Fox-Files
    by Dagmar Dunlevy

    Playgirl Playgirl Playgirl Playgirl Playgirl

    Tall, chestnut-haired X-Files star David Duchovny is a man who lives up to his TV character's moniker in more ways that one. Surely, he has the sultry good looks any woman would desire in a handsome man, but David also has the added blessing of being imbued with the sly sexiness which sneaks up on you so quietly that before you know what's happened, your heart's already caught-even before you find out about his B.A. from Princeton and M.A. from Yale, the university where he also taught as an English Literature professor! In fact, this scholarly stud is only a dissertation away from a Ph.D. But academia will have to wait, thanks to the near hysteria of millions of salivating viewers who tune into The X-Files weekly to watch FBI agent Fox Mulder do what he does best-that is making women the world over with desire.

    I've been lucky enough to have had the pleasure of meeting David several times before our Playgirl interview, and I can tell you with confidence that this six-foot gentleman exudes a natural charm and is the possessor of a quick wit and a dry sense of humor, making him welcome in any crowd. He can equally make you fell just as comfortable around him., letting you know that he finds what you have to say important.

    Nevertheless, however engaging he may be at the occasional Hollywood function, the delectable Duchovny is still a man who appreciates a separation between his public appearances and his private life. Whenever I'd spot him a local L.A. eatery, he'd do his best to blend in with the crowd, sporting casual weekend wear topped off with a baseball cap and sunglasses. With an almost regal detachment, the message was clear: Do Not Disturb.

    Over the course of the two-day trip to Vancouver, Canada for this interview, I had a better opportunity to get to know "The Fox," as well as his cast and crew. And looking up close, I found the man behind "The Duchovny Grin" to be truly disarming. With a smile that's little off with a pouty bottom, the result is at once serious and sensuous. His eyes, large and expressive, are sometimes a soft warm brown and, when catching the sunlight, seem illuminated with bright green hues.

    Arriving at Sound Stage 24 on the backlot of the Steven J. Cannell Studios, David Duchovny strolls across the lawn to meet and greet the press. Having just gotten off a plane himself, he seems slightly fatigued. Dressed in a blue jeans, gray crew-neck T-shirt and a leather bomber jacket, his over-all look is preppy casual, but his unshaven face casts a soft shadow, enhancing his strong jawline. His thick hair is a little tousled, with a few renegade strands spilling onto his forehead. This not so clean-cut seems to suit him prefectly.


    "I just don't like to talk about my personal life. It's an area I don't go into."
    Now that he's single and available (Duchovny recently broke off a long-term relationship with L.A.-based actress Perrey Reeves), casual dates or the process of just getting to know someone can get very complicated. Every woman he's seen with now is touted to be the future Mrs. Duchovny. "That's just what happens and I think it's only funny if you're single," he says matter-of-factly. "If you're single, you're not hurting anybody, so you can walk down the street with a woman and you read in the paper that you're dating then you're going to marry her. When you're seriously involved and planning to marry her, then it becomes hurtful and difficult. Being single isn't a problem, except with things like the sex-addict label. I don't think people believe that stuff, anyway. Once you spend any time with a person, they get to know who you are. Sometimes, you may even become a little isolated and stay inside because every time you go out, you're making a statement of some kind."

    In response to his alleged coupling with Winona Ryder, David is quick to put the facts straight, saying, "I was just good friends with Winona. I just don't like to talk about my personal life. It's an area I don't go into."

    A serious expression cast across his handsome face, David continues, "I feel like we all work so hard and, I don't want to pat myself on the back, but we give a lot to make the show. What people get from the show is the show. They don't get me. I have to pull back to take care of myself. Sometimes, people get angry because they fell that, 'We watch your show and now give us you.' It's up to me to draw the line. What I give you is the show, the character. I don't give you an experience of me. I feel like I give a lot. I get upset and it's too bad when people thing that I don't give enough because I don't go to conventions or I don't want to talk about certain things, do certain things. There's always going to be that misunderstanding.

    Privacy, David makes clear, is a key issue in his life. Since 'The X-Files' has made his life suddenly X-posed, David tires to exhibit grace under pressure, though he did reveal to us his pet peeve about proving voyeurs. "Leave me alone when I'm eating. That's just polite, I think. I never understood people that come up to you while you're eating."

    The same holds true when walking down the street. "I like to walk, and Vancouver's a walking city. Not in L.A. In L.A., I won't tell you where you're likely to meet me in a restaurant. Vancouver is a place where I don't get mobbed. They're used to us being here. It's not as simple in other cities." David's voice rises with annoyance. You don't know what to call those people who don't have a job but they're walking around with video cameras and photo cameras and they sell the shoots while trying to antagonize you into a confrontation. L.A.'s just crawling with that and it's really uncomfortable. You never get that here. New York and L.A. are very difficult for me. Too bad for New York, because it's where I grew up. It's very strange for me to go there and walk down the street and have people accost me, insisting on taking my picture. It's strange because I was in New York for 25 years and nobody even looked at me."

    A confessed bookworm, this intellectual-turned-thespian enjoys the challenge of tackling five books at once. "I'm just finishing up two books called "Out of Carolina" and "The Selfish Gene," which is this book by Richard Dawkins dating back 25 years. It's about Darwinian biology. Of course, my sex addict's 'How To' handbook is also lying around, because I'm not a very good one," he says with a grin.

    But, don't get the impression David's got all the time in the world to practice his high-brow activities. Last summer, he shot the feature film "Playing God" in Los Angles during his television show's hiatus. In the movie, which co-stars Angelina Jolie and Timothy Hutton, David portrays Dr. Eugene Sands, a physician who loses his license after performing an operation while high on amphetamines. Drifting aimlessly, Sands is lured deep into the dark side of life where he works as a 'gun-shot' doctor providing treatment to criminals who won't go to a hospital out of fear of getting caught. Danger arrives for Sands, however, when he becomes entangled with his boss' girlfriend.

    David confides to us that he didn't make this film looking for a box office smash. "It's not that kind of movie," he says. "My plan is to be in a position where I can do the best scripts that are available. It has nothing to do with trying to make a hit or trying to make myself a movie star. That's not the point for me. Sometimes I think that I should rest. I don't know why I don't, but I like to work. In some ways, just playing a character that wasn't Mulder after three years felt like a rest, even if it wasn't a physical one. When I came back this year I was mentally rested."

    Refreshed and read for the fourth season, David, cast and crew go to work. "We get along," David says with a natural ease. "But we have our moments, of course. I think sometimes we all just show up and go, 'Goddammit, I'd rather be anywhere else but here and I'm going to make you suffer for it.' But then other times, I'll look at Gillian (co-star Gillian Anderson, who plays FBI agents, Dr. Dana Scully) and I'll think she's the only one that really knows what I'm going through, and vice versa. So there's a real bond there. We're all just trying to make it the best show we can make it. If we keep that common goal in mind, we can forgive a lot."

    "On the outdoor pation of one of Vancouver's trendy eateries, "Skinner" (co-star) Mitch Pileggi) is trading a few mock punches with David and demonstrating the choreography behind them. Apparently, David could use a few pointers. With Mitch and I as his audience, David reenacts the time he used a telephone receiver to clobber a colleague in a scene. Though the actor apparently didn't mind getting hammered by Fox Mulder, David apologized profusely for the accidental physical assault. However, being a "method actor," the man wouldn't let the realism of the moment be halted. "Keep rolling!" he called as he staggered around the set.

    Filming 12-plus per day, sometimes six days a week, 10 months out of the year can be grueling, especially on a show that's mostly heavy drama. So, ti's no surprise that the cast makes a point of finding ways to release the daily tension. What exactly are the methods of comic relief? Agents Mulder and Skinner break out in a broad grin. "We have some pretty funny gag reels," says David mischievously. After recounting some of the stunts pulled from the outtakes, we get to view a gag sampling the next day. Here's Fox Mulder in a serious scene. It's dark. He's in a car with a male passenger. The dialogue is heavy. Mulder looks to his passenger, tells him he's a good-looking guy, grabs him by the neck and shoves his neck into his lap. "Cut!" Another scene has Skinner and Mulder in the FBI office. "Action!" Tired of having to do another physical take, Mulder shoves Skinner towards the desk, lassos him with his belt and gets ready to take him from behind. "Cut!" This usually results in the cast and crew roaring with laughter. Final touches are put on these reels where no one is spared, not Gillian, creator Chris Carter or director Rob Bowman. The reels are then pulled out for the year-end wrap parties.

    The party isn't over for "The X-Files" anytime soon, however. Under a five year contract, David hopes to see the show continue on as periodic specials. Important to all is that the quality and integrity of the series remains. In the meantime, he's adamant about keeping Fox Mulder interesting and believable, and tells us, "Depending on the story, it's about bringing out shades, certain things to the forefront. If you ever stop to think what the show is often about, you'd say, I'd never watch a show like that" It can get kind of silly if you just laid it out on a page. It's the actor's job to make it real and involving." Describing how he'd do just that, David says, "Every show has an arc and I try to maintain that arc. Personally, I just try to come up with some emotional parallels to my own life that actually work. That's hard to do and you have to make it real or else people are going to laugh at it."


    "I'm not a sex addict. I have never been to those meetings. It's a very funny term, and we can laugh it off, but it's not funny when you see it in the press."
    Another parallel from this life is that of teacher. It's the only thing he misses from academia. "As an actor," he explains, "I find that what I do is very similar because you're trying to express something - trying to convey something. As a teacher, I was probably too much of a performer, and as an actor, I'm probably too much of a teacher. I'm trying to find a way down the middle."

    At 36, David has no regrets about the path he's chosen. "I started acting when I was 26, which I guess is kind of old to start. I never though that it was going to be a career, really. I just thought I was doing something that was helping me as a person, but once I started auditioning and I started trying to get work as actor, I just kind of had a feeling that things would work out for me in some way."

    Yet fame has it's price. "You hear famous people say, 'Oh, woe is me,'" he says reflecting. "I'm famous, and yet until you're famous, you can't imagine it. I never really thought of it in any kind of realistic way. I just thought about doing my job and then seeing what happens. Becoming famous is a major life experience so you just learn how to deal with it. You can't be taught how to deal with it - you make your mistakes and you try to learn from them. Unfortunately, you're making mistakes in front of a lot of people."

    There's only time for a few more questions - including the one most Playgirl readers have been dying to have answered. What about all these rumors hitting the papers alleging that David Duchovny is a sex addict? With a self-mocking grin he replies, "I just want to make love to them all... Again, I don't know where that would have come from, except that I'm single and I had a long-term girlfriend up until last November. I have been seen with more than one woman in the last few months, so I'm an easy target for those kind of things. As far as sex addiction, that's a serious business with all these Twelve Step programs. Not only is there Alcoholics Anonymous, but other programs have expanded from substance abuse to any kind of compulsive behavior.

    "It's actually a legitimate concern for a lot of people who feel that they have compulsive sexual behavior. I'm not a sex addict. I have never been to those meetings. It's a very funny term, and we can laugh it off, but it's not funny when you see it in the press. And it hurts people. It's hurtful to my family and if I was involved with a woman in a monogamous relationship, it would be hurtful to her. There was another story claiming I was a neat freak. If I had to choose one of the two, I think I'd rather be a sex addict. It's not funny and I'll be glad when it goes away."

    Although the scrumptious actor is obviously not a sex addict, he definitely is chockful of simmering appeal. What kind of woman does a certified sex symbol look for?

    "Someone who is self-sufficient, who has a career of her own. I am not one of those people who's attracted to specifics. I don't need to take care of anybody. I don't want to take care of anybody. I don't want to take care of anybody, unless I have children and then I'll take care of them. A sense of humor is very important, as is compassion. And, "he adds jokingly, "she must have a driver's license."


    Dunlevy, Dagmar. April 1997. "The Fox-Files." Playgirl.

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