David on and off-screen with Téa Leoni and Minnie Driver

He’s just completed a new movie and he’s still writing, directing and starring in The X-Files!

Ian Spelling enters the fast-paced life of David Duchovny.

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According to David Duchovny, “With The X-Files, even though we are FBI agents, we are dealing with issues that are interesting to all people. It’s about whatever is out there. When we do colonize other planets, the [aliens] will be like, ‘That’s so unrealistic!’”

Duchovny laughs, but The X-Files is no laughing matter these days, especially for die-hard fans of the seven-year-old series who have been fearing that the end was fast approaching. At the time of this conversation with the dry-witted Duchovny, whose role as Fox Mulder transformed him into a major star, the actor was very much on the fence about whether or not he’d return for an eighth season.

He was of the feeling that the show itself had reached the end of its creative rope and he was tub-thumping hard for his latest film, Return to Me, all of which had him doubting that he’d be back for more otherworldly and supernatural shenanigans on the show. Call it a matter of been there, done that, why do more?

“Other than money, there is no incentive really,” he admits. “The only incentive would be writing and directing, which is what I’m doing now on the show. I’m allowed to have a really nice budget, a great crew, great cameras and all the film I want to teach myself how to direct. That’s a major opportunity. More than money, the reason I would come back would be to direct and write more. It’s not the money at all. I shouldn’t say that. The money’s always good, but in the end it’s not worth anything.

"Coming back would only be about the chance to teach myself how to do other things in the business that I want to do. When you direct, you get to shape the whole process. It comes through your eyes, the way you see the material. You stamp your vision on it. Nobody else would do it the way you do, for better or for worse.”

Duchovny’s not in the slightest bit kidding when he says that directing is what he’s doing now. His publicity blitz on behalf of Return to Me, a romantic-comedy/drama in which he co-stars with Minnie Driver, comes right in the middle of his directing an X-Files episode entitled Hollywood AD, which he also wrote.

“It’s based on the premise that Skinner [Mitch Pileggi], our boss, is consulting with a writer from Hollywood on a movie which turns out to be based on a case that Mulder and Scully [Gillian Anderson] investigated,” he says of the ambitious episode, which aired in the States on April 30. “Mulder and Scully in the movie are played by Garry Shandling and my wife, Téa Leoni [who’s also the mother of Duchovny’s new-born daughter, Madeleine West]. So it’s kind of a serious and comic look at what Hollywood does to reality, though in this case reality is already once removed.

"It’s been so easy to direct Téa. I told her yesterday that she’s the best actress I’ve ever seen. Honestly. I didn’t tell her anything. She came up with stuff that was better than anything I could have thought of. I know if she was directing me, I would have been nervous.”

And how about that positively bizarre day on set when Duchovny put four Scullys through their respective paces? “We were doing this scene on Friday where Scully is running,” the actor-director recalls, sounding quite amused. “Gillian had had the flu or something, so we actually had to push the scene a couple of days. It’s a scene where we meet Téa and Garry and the first thing Téa says [to Scully] is, ‘How do you run in those heels?’

"Garry and I play the scene and in the background you just see Scully running back and forth. So, Gillian being ill, we did the old cowboy switch where she leaves and we got a Gillian double [actually Mitch Pileggi’s real-life wife, Arlene, who’s Anderson’s regular stand-in] to run back and forth. So that was two Scullys. Then, Téa was dressed like Scully and there was Téa’s stand-in. So we actually had four Scullys.

"We’re doing this funny scene and the script supervisor said to me, ‘You should have the four Scullys together at one point.’ I thought, `Yeah, maybe,’ and then I thought, ‘You know, you can’t have too many jokes.’ If you have too many jokes it’s not funny anymore...”

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Duchovny/Léoni photo © Sue Schneider/Moonglow Photos
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction