BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - “The X Files” may have brought David Duchovny fame and fortune. But neither of those goddesses changed him.
“Life’s the same because that happened next to me, it didn’t happen inside me,” he says in a deserted conference room at a hotel here.
“So it doesn’t really make an impact. It changes in the way that everybody’s life changes. I would’ve changed regardless of what happened. But it didn’t change me in terms of fame, fortune and all that stuff. That has no effect on me.” Duchovny thinks he was lucky because notoriety didn’t come until he was 32. “It’s hard when you get famous when you’re a kid - 25, 18. I had a chance to mature a little before that happened, so when it did happen I guess I could see it for what it was. It was just something that was happening,” he says.
“I think on some level, even when I wasn’t famous, I always felt I was famous. I don’t know what that means exactly. I always felt if fame came, it would be for a reason. It was something I wanted, it was something I was doing. I felt I was doing something that was interesting and important, and I had something to express, therefore I wasn’t panicked about it because I thought, `Well, it’ll come. And if it goes away, it’ll come again.’” It may have been a five-year wait but it has come again. Duchovny is back on television. starring as a conflicted writer in “Californication,” premiering on Showtime on Aug. 13.
It took him so long to return because he had other things to do, he says, “Like raise a family, movies and write and direct and not finding the thing I wanted to do. The thing that the `X Files’ afforded me was the luxury of being able to just choose what I wanted to do rather than HAVE to do. I didn’t feel I had to do anything until this.” Duchovny plays a blocked writer who tries to numb his panic in the fast lane of Los Angeles. ... But it’s not a mid-life crisis, he says.
“I think it’s a life crisis. Actors are always having life crises because you don’t know what’s next. So it’s always a crisis. You’re constantly in some kind of low level crisis modem and yet I think if we were all honest with ourselves, I mean, that’s really what life is. ...
“We all have our routines, but that’s exactly what they are, they’re just routines. They’re not really the truth. We just tell ourselves we have to wake up and do this thing, but the fact is that life has no shape. I think this guy is a guy who’s dealing with that.” Duchovny suffered his own sort of crisis when he was 17. He fell and knocked all his teeth out. “It was a big pause because I went to the hospital and they thought maybe I had something wrong with my brain or my heart or something because I’d fainted.
“This was in the middle of basketball season. I was the captain of the team, and I was a very successful high school kid and it was like, STOP!” One of his teachers visited him in the hospital. “He was my Latin teacher and he was kind of hard on me. He came to the hospital and he said, `You don’t have to hurry back. You can take your time, take some time off.’ At that point I thought, `This guy’s crazy. I’m going to be better and get back on the court and back into school as fast as I can.’
“And then, many years later - I was 27 or 28 - I remembered. Click. He saw that I was performing and pushing too hard. He was telling me, `Slow down.’
“And I wanted to get in touch with him and say, `I get it 11 years later.’ And he was dead.” That incident proved the inspiration for a movie that Duchovny wrote, directed and starred in, “The House of D.”
In fact, Duchovny likes directing as much as he likes writing and acting. “I’m fascinated by the process of making movies and making TV and telling stories, the whole aspect of it - from writing, directing, acting, editing. I feel I’m lucky I still have things to learn.” Married for 10 years to actress Tea Leone, Duchovny is the father of two children, 8 and 5.
“People sometimes think it would be awful for two actors to be married, but in our case we have similar attitudes toward it and I think we have similar tastes. It’s very comforting actually to check in with her, and I think she would say the same. I ask her opinion. I don’t listen to her, but I ask her,” he grins.
While fame didn’t change him, parenthood did, “in all the cliche ways that people say. They’re all true. You become almost secondary to yourself. You exist for these kids. They’re more important than you and that’s a good thing. It takes the attention off yourself - which is a good thing - especially for an actor. It’s humbling and wonderful,” he nods
“Having to deal with kids is impossible. If you think you’re tremendous at what you do, you’ve got a big hit movie or TV show and you’ve got to deal with an 8-year-old, you realize you really can’t do s—-.”