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David Duchovny on Conan O'Brien
Archived April 7, 2000

Conan: My first guest this evening plays Fox Mulder on the hit show, The X-Files, and starting tomorrow, you can see him in the brand new movie, Return to Me. Please welcome Mr. David Duchovny.

[Wild cheering and applause]

[David walks out - wearing black pants and blue shirt underneath black ribbed sweaterish shirt]

Conan: How are you? Good to see you.

David: I'm fine. I'm a little nervous about being here, because my last appearance made my life a living hell for about eight months.

Conan: You know, you're the - like the 15th guest to say that.

David: I can imagine, but -


Conan: No, last time actually, this is - this is a couple years ago you were on the program, and you got yourself into a lot of hot water.

David: No. No, I didn't get *myself* into a lot of hot water.

Conan: Oh, really? How did it happen then?

David: As you may recall, you and your writers came up with the idea for - because I'd wanted to move the show from Vancouver to Los Angeles - you came up with the idea to mock Vancouver and its weather, by planting a Mountie, bear, and a hockey player in the audience, and have them weeping when I said I wanted to leave Vancouver for Los Angeles.

Conan: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

David: Unfortunately, you don't realize that your brand of searing irony and wit -

[scattered laughter]

Conan: Oh, is that what it is?

David: - is not understood in other countries. In other countries, even with English as their first language, like Canada, [scattered applause] do not appreciate the subtleties of your own very special brand of irony.


David: And what happened --

Conan: [laughing] We have never had any subtlety here.

David: And what happened was that they - it was reported seriously, as a sincere statement, and you know. My house was egged. People yelled at me. I became the 'rain man' up there.

Conan: Right, right.

[scattered awwws]

David: Well, I honestly - I don't want sympathy. I just want you to apologize to Canada.

Conan: I will - at some point in the near future.


Conan: I have to have my writers work on it, but -

David: Now, for you Canadians out there, that was irony.


Conan: You know what though, it has a happy ending, because you wanted to move the show out of Vancouver, and after that -

David: It does have a happy ending -

Conan: - you guys moved.

David: - but for no reason like I didn't like Vancouver or the rain or anything like that.

Conan: No, you were very happy there, but this show single-handedly got you moved to LA.

David: This is now sincerity.

Conan: Where you wanted to be. This is now the most powerful show in show business.

David: This is what is called sincerity.

Conan: Yeah, so you're happy now. Everything's good?

David: Very happy. Thank you. I'm just a little afraid to be here is all. Sitting next to Andy makes me comfortable though. [David reaches over and touches Andy's hand. Andy swats at it.]

Conan: That's what - He's a calming presence.

[laughter and cheers]

Conan: We have an antiseptic wipe. Yeah.


Conan: The X-Files, of course, extremely popular around the world, much like our own show.

David: Yes.


Conan: See, they laugh at that. I'm killing with this sad, sad statement. Do you have to - when a show is as popular as yours is internationally, you've got to travel a lot, you have to promote it in other countries. Where do you go?

David: Well, actually, when we were doing the press for the X-Files movie, we were in Germany, and I remember this one woman -- you about five minute interviews with each journalist, and she sat down and she said [accented] 'You big enema lover.'


Conan: Enema?

David: Well, and you know, when in Rome - and you know, this is Germany, so -


David: So I said 'excuse me?' And she said 'Yes, I read many article. You big enema lover. What is it about the enema that you love?' and I said 'Really. Where did you read that?' And she said 'Well, you know, you are interested in Pita?' And I said 'Oh, *animal* lover.

Conan: Oh, okay.

David: Yes, and actually we combined it, and I eventually told her I do enemas with animals.


David: Cuz I didn't want to make her feel bad.

Conan: Yeah okay. Now listen, if you get in trouble this time, it's not our fault, all right?

David: I meant to say that was written *for* me -


Conan: Yeah, right.

David: - by the writers here.

Conan: Yeah, right. Okay. Bruce Vilanchi is writing for you. Yeah right. Do you - Now, you started acting here in New York, which is where we tape the show. A lot of people -

[cheers and applause]

Conan: No, don't. Don't! Why? Why would someone - I don't understand why *that* would get applause. Anyway -

David: They don't know that you want to move the show to Vancouver.


David: He does!

Conan: Please!

David: He's trying to!

Conan: That's my way of either apologizing to Vancouver, or really getting them, yeah. Well, you started acting in New York, then you moved to Los Angeles. Did you have a good perspective to see - is there a difference?

David: Yeah, well in New York I started on the stage, you know, as most actors do in New York. And the first play that I remember, we did it in this - my class did a bunch of one-acts in an S&M theater, because that was the only one we could afford to rent. An S&M theater is one where this woman would get up with her slave, and - with an audience like this - and they would yell out fantasies that they would have to enact. But on every odd night, it would be us young actors trying to do what - I was always the copulating mermaid of Venice, California, which was a Charles Buchowski short story that we were doing as a play. And me and my friend, another actor, were playing these guys that watch a hearse unload corpses every night. And one day we steal one. We unzip the bag, it's a beautiful woman. You know, it's an age-old story. I make love to the corpse.


David: My friend makes love to the corpse. I swim the corpse out into the water. She turns into a mermaid and swims away.

Conan: Right, I'm so tired of Hollywood remaking that story.


David: So, you and me both, my friend. So in our acting class, I said 'We need a girl to play the corpse,' and everyone raised their hands. There was a million girls ready to play the corpse, but come show night, no girls, nowhere. The woman who ran the S&M theater said 'You got no woman. I've got a blow-up doll for you if you want to do that.' So we were stuck, we didn't have anything. So I said sure. And I would bring out the girl on a sheet - in a sheet. You wouldn't see the girl, and there was like a piece of wood on the front of the stage, so you wouldn't see my simulated love-making with this corpse. So I bring the blow up doll out at the appropriate time. She has long stringy hair. It looks kinda like a woman. So I -

Conan: They're very good.


David: Yeah. Sincerity? Yes. Not ironic, though.

Conan: Yeah, yeah.

David: So I start to simulate coitus right there, on the ground, and what I didn't know about the rubber doll is that when you push any - when you exert any force on it, the arms and legs [flings up arms and legs] fly up [again] like this.


David: So, I had this bulwark here which I thought would hide my movements, but every time I pushed down [flings arms and legs] -


David: - and the audience was laughing, which I thought was a very edgy, kinda risky scene. They were laughing, and I realize that her arms and legs were visible every few seconds. So in my eternal wisdom, I went out in between shows and got some ankle weights, and I strapped ankle weights to her ankles and her wrists, and so the next time [thrusts arm], you know [thrusts], she didn't -

Conan: She knocked you - The next time she knocked you out.


David: Exactly. Boom! [simulates getting hit in head]

Conan: You - Let's mention this movie. Return to Me, which is -

David: On that note... Which is a family film.


Conan: Yeah, enough about sex with the dead. Now about -

David: [simultaneously] Enough about blow-up dolls and graveyards.


David: I've got range, my friend.

Conan: I know you do. Works for you in many ways. Return to Me - this is - I've heard this is gonna be a good date movie?

David: It's a really good date movie. I've been guaranteeing people will get laid when they go see it.

[cheers and applause]

David: I have no authority to make that claim.

Conan: I will be the ultimate test.


David: When I - When I mentioned that backstage, they said that Conan would probably see it alone, and I said well, you know -


David: Guarantee still holds.

Conan: You've got that doll hanging around? Okay -


Conan: We have a clip here from the movie.

David: Yeah, It's actually - It's a really sad, moving, and yet very funny film. It's hard to describe. But Bonnie Hunt, who wrote and directed it - I think is gonna come on tomorrow night -

Conan: She's tomorrow, yeah.

David: - is a singularly talented, funny actress and writer and director. And it's not like any movie you will have seen in the last ten years, and I encourage you all to go and see it.

Conan: This - what can you tell us about the clip?

David: That's sincerity.


Conan: We're going to flash it underneath you.

David: Actually, that's just neediness, really.


David: This clip is - I'm a guy who's lost his wife in the first few minutes of the movie, and unbeknownst to me, her heart has been transplanted into another woman. It sounds like one of your characters for the spring, actually.

Conan: Yeah.

David: And I have just met her, played by Minnie Driver, and now I've come back to try and see her again because there's some connection that I've realized and I can't explain it. And Carroll O'Connor who plays her grandfather is - that sets up this clip, right here.

Conan: All right, let's take a look at this clip, from Return to Me.

[Clip - Carroll and David meet in O'Reilly's. Carroll introduces David to the boys.]


[Cheers and applause]

Conan: Return to Me opens everywhere tomorrow.

David: Yeah, tomorrow, Friday April 7th, everywhere.

Conan: So, go and see that movie, and David, thanks so much for coming by.

David: Thanks.

Conan: Good luck with everything. David Duchovny.

Transcribed by Paula T.
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