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David Duchovny - Biography

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David Duchovny

Personal details

Name: David Duchovny
Born: 7 August 1960 (Age: 55)
Where: New York, New York, USA
Height: 6'
Awards: Won 2 Golden Globes, 1 BAFTA nomination

All about this star


Due to his part as Fox Mulder in the phenomenally successful X-Files, David Duchovny was one of the brightest stars of the fledgling Internet, one of the best-known actors on the planet. Naturally, the end of the series would bring a marked drop in his popularity. His efforts as a film actor and writer-director would be largely ignored and he was in serious danger of being dismissed as a one-hit wonder (albeit in one of the biggest TV hits of all time). Nevertheless, he persisted in his work, returned to TV and honed his comic abilities, enjoying another smash hit with Californication. A serial nominee at the Emmys and Golden Globes, he had proved him to be a performer of wit, charm, breadth and, oddly, given his age, considerable potential.

He was born David William Duchovny on August 7th, 1960, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His parents were Jewish New Yorker Amram Ducovny and Lutheran Scot Margaret Miller, known as Meg and born at Whitehills, just north of Aberdeen. With that heritage, Duchovny jokes, you shouldn't ask him for money. He also says it gave him a "Protestant work ethic combined with Jewish guilt and introspection". He has a brother, Daniel, four years older, and a sister, Laurie, six years his junior.

Amram Duchovny had grown up on a block between Neptune and Mermaid Avenues in Coney Island. A jazz fanatic, he'd gain a BA from New York University, then join the army. It was here that, due to continual mispronunciation, he'd drop the H from his surname. After a spell working as a journalist in the Middle East, he'd return to New York to work as a publicist for the American Jewish Committee. His dream, though, was to become a successful playwright and novelist. Meg would later become a teacher and school administrator.

With his parents coming from such different backgrounds, young David would enjoy a fairly cosmopolitan early life. At the age of 4 he'd be taken to Scotland on a liner, returning to his mother's homeland at age 10 (he has strong links to the clan McFarlane). He'd actually celebrate his tenth birthday on Erraid, a tiny island next to Iona off the west coast of Mull. Back home in New York, he'd get his first taste of showbiz when his dad's play The Trial Of Lee Harvey Oswald, co-written with Leon Friedman, would get a one-week run at Broadway's ANTA Playhouse in November, 1967. The 1977 film The Trial Of Lee Harvey Oswald, starring Ben Gazzara, would share nothing with the play but its title.

Amram and Meg would divorce when David was 11, Amram later moving to Boston where he'd work as director of public affairs at Brandeis University and perform publicity duties for the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Also pursuing his literary ambitions, he'd write several books, some humorous collections and some histories, including David Ben Gurion In His Own Words. Finally, in 2000, having married Varda and moved to Paris, he'd have his first novel published, Coney, a story set in the 1930s Coney Island of his youth. Sadly, he would die just three years later.

After the divorce, the kids would stay with their mother in New York, growing ever more distant from their father. Meg's own father had fought in WW1 then lived through the Depression and WW2 making her very aware of how quickly the good times can end. Thus she'd remind the kids constantly that poverty was only a small step away, engendering a real fear of winding up in the gutter and promoting the aforementioned work ethic.

Life was difficult, but David excelled at it. He'd be educated at Grace Church School, a small establishemnt on 4th Avenue that, founded in 1894, had been the first choir boarding school in New York. His mother would work there for some 27 years. Having passed through 8th Grade with distinction, David would win a scholarship to the renowned Collegiate School for Boys. Founded by the Dutch back when the city was New Amsterdam, this was argued to be the oldest independent school in America and had relocated to 260 West 78th Street, next to the West End Collegiate Church in 1892. Cesar Romero had graduated from here, as had Peter Bogdanovich and a host of playwrights, film-makers, high-powered journalists and entrepreneurs. Other pupils who'd passed through included Douglas Fairbanks Jr and William Hurt.

So Duke, as Duchovny was sometimes nicknamed (he was also known as Doggie), found himself surrounded by the children of the rich and famous, including John F. Kennedy Jr, with whom he roomed on a school-trip to Washington in 1975. There were also many child prodigies, one of whom was already editor of the New York Times' crossword. David fitted in easily. There were two gyms, two theatres and a host of opportunities to learn music and the arts. There were no more than 50 boys to a grade. Duchovny was brilliant at baseball and basketball, playing the latter to college scholarship standard, and studied diligently.

His work paid off. Graduating in 1978, he was class valedictorian, and was offered places at Harvard, Yale, Browns and Princeton, choosing to attend the last of these. He made friends fast, and got a girlfriend. Seeing her on his first day, he discovered her name, and joined a politics class in which she'd enrolled. When she turned up (actually three months later), she asked to borrow his notes, he asked her out and they were together for the next four years. David was already fairly successful with women. He'd lost his virginity, he says, at 14, to a girl one year younger but a great deal more experienced. At 16, he'd had his own Mrs Robinson, an older woman who'd seduced then discarded him. At that point, he was working as a janitor and had a small room with two single beds. He'd met a girl who was having trouble at home, offered her a place to stay and suddenly realised he was in love with her. They went out for a year.

Having spent a year as guard for the basketball team and two years at centrefield for the baseball side, David graduated from Princeton in 1982 with a high honours BA in English Literature, his senior thesis being The Schizophrenic Critique Of Pure Reason In (Samuel) Beckett's Early Novels. His senior thesis adviser, Maria Di Battista, would later describe him as a very serious student, one of the best she'd ever had, but would also note his love of horror movies and an advanced comic ability, both of which she'd see put to good use in his later career. With a friend, he now spent five months travelling in South-East Asia. On one occasion, he recalls, they smoked opium with an addict in Thailand. As they slipped into semi-unconsciousness, it began to rain, and pigs and horses came into the hut for shelter. David remembers believing he could understand what they were saying.

He now moved on to a Masters degree in English literature at Yale. One class, in Romantic Poetry, was taught by Harold Bloom. Duchovny remembers being impressed by one of Bloom's undergraduate students, the young Naomi Wolf. He'd continue on at Yale for a doctorate, his thesis concerning Magic And Technology In Contemporary American Fiction And Poetry, but circumstances would dictate that he'd never finish his PhD.

What happened was acting. At the suggestion of his friend Jason Beghe, and at a relatively late age, Duchovny had taken up the thespian arts at Yale, appearing in several college plays. Taking his performances as seriously as he'd taken everything else, he began to commute twice a week from Yale to New York to study at the Actor's Studio under Marcia Haufrecht, who'd earlier taught the likes of Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Alec Baldwin and Ellen Barkin. Up until now he'd spent his summers as a bar-tender in New York, rather scandalously giving people free drinks in return for big tips (he also admits to petty shoplifting in his early days - a refreshingly honest guy). Now, he sought work in commercials. In 1987 he scored an ad for Lowenbrau that earned him $9000, twice what he received from his teachers' assistant stipend at Yale. Despite having smashed his front teeth when he fainted in a lift at age 17 and having nearly lost the sight in his right eye when he ruptured a sphincter during a basketball game at Yale (he had a synthetic lens put in), he felt he had the looks and the talent to succeed at this game. His days at Yale were numbered.

Another important figure in his life at the time was his then-girlfriend Maggie Jakobson, now famed worldwide as Chandler's appalling ex Janice in the hit sit-com Friends (she actually auditioned for the part of Monica). Jakobson had appeared in a succession of off-off-Broadway plays, then in 1985 scored a regular spot on the Saturday Night Live-style variety series The New Show. Approached by maverick director Henry Jaglom, she'd be given a part in his film Someone To Love, featuring the last ever performance by Orson Welles. In 1987 Jaglom would approach her again, wanting her to appear in his next piece, New Year's Day. Here Jaglom would play a writer moving from LA back to New York, where he finds his apartment still occupied by the three women who've been renting it from him. Thus for 24 hours they must live together, the movie exploring modern relationships as friends, family and building supervisor Milos Forman pop in to complicate matters. Jakobson's character would fall for Jaglom, but only after being put through the wringer by her philandering boyfriend, who turns up begging for a second chance and is then thrown out naked onto the streeet having been caught having sex with her friend. Jaglom would ask Jakobson if she knew anyone suitable to play such a cad. She did - Duchovny, with whom she was presently splitting up over his failure to commit. Duchovny, with his usual good humour, accepted the part, Jaglom exaggerated the conflict between the couple to make it more interesting, and so Duchovny made his screen debut, full frontal shot and all.

New Year's Day was not a hit on its release in 1989, but it did convince Duchovny he should leave Yale and concentrate on an acting career. He began auditioning in earnest, being turned down for Bull Durham and Valmont, then winning bit-parts in Working Girl, starring Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith, where he'd play one of a crowd of guests hiding in the bathroom at a surprise party for Griffith (joining him way down the cast were Kevin Spacey and Ricki Lake), and Bad Influence, with Rob Lowe and James Spader.

In late 1989, Duchovny was called again by Henry Jaglom and invited to appear in his next picture, Venice/Venice. Galvanized by his minor successes thus far, he took the part and relocated to Los Angeles in the hope of hitting the big time. Venice/Venice, not released till 1992, would not be the boost he needed. In the movie, Jaglom would play - surprise, surprise - a maverick film director attending Venice Film Festival. Here he begins a relationship with a French journalist obsessed with his work (like Woody Allen, Jaglom liked to make himself irresistible to women), then returns with her to Venice Beach to cast and film his next meisterwerk, all the while propounding on cinema and life in general. Duchovny would pop up as the star of the movie Jaglom's promoting in Italy.

Once in Los Angeles, Duchovny's first screened role would be an eyecatcher. This would be in David Lynch's serialised weird-out Twin Peaks, where for three episodes he'd play Agent Bryson, called in to investigate a drugs ring who are framing Kyle MacLachlan's Agent Cooper. Cooper last knew Bryson as Dennis. Now, having gone undercover in women's clothing and found that it "relaxed" him, he's Denise. Nevertheless, he's still a red-blooded male, getting turned on by Sherilyn Fenn and, while posing in high heels and underwire bra as a waitress in a diner, flirting with a drug runner then pulverising him.

However, it would not be Fenn who caught Duchovny's eye offscreen, but another co-star - Sheryl Lee. They'd now begin a relationship and, oddly, live it out onscreen in 1992's The Red Shoe Diaries. This was a made-for-cable film by Zalman King, the third part of a trilogy-of-sorts which began with the controversial Wild Orchid. Here Duchovny would play Jake Winters, a grieving widower who discovers his wife's diaries and learns that she was living a secret erotic life. Soon eroticism enters his own life in the form of Lee, and serious naked cavorting ensues. A big success, the film would spawn a series of sequels, mostly softcore compilations, with Duchovny serving as narrator. With New Year's Day and Twin Peaks, he'd already proved himself unafraid of nudity and kinkiness, but The Red Shoe Diaries, released periodically over the next decade, would unhelpfully connect him to sex in the imagination of the public - or more specifically the tabloids. Throughout the Nineties, his relationships with actress Perrey Reeves, musician Lisa Loeb and Winona Ryder would fan the flames of scurrilousness and there'd be myriad stories of Duchovny's exploits, cravings and sexual addiction. It was unfortunate but, in his career choices, Duchovny certainly contributed to the seedy furore.

Before the release of The Red Shoe Diaries, Duchovny was already garnering attention in Hollywood, appearing in a string of films. The first of these would be The Rapture, written and directed by Michael Tolkin, whose next filmed screenplay would be The Player (later he'd pen Deep Impact, starring Duchovny's future wife). Ambitious and strange, The Rapture would see Mimi Rogers as a telephone operator using promiscuity to relieve the tedium of her life. Seeking meaning, she falls in with an evangelical Christian sect and hooks up with Duchovny, a former assassin who's joined the group to atone for the sins of his past. They have a child, live happily, but then his past catches up with him and Rogers is left to wait for the Day of Judgement alone. As said, it was an unusual piece and would win Duchovny some positive press.

His next release would be the offbeat comedy Julia Has Two Lovers. Here Daphna Kastner would play a kids' author sharing a flat with her boyfriend. One day she answers the phone, it's a wrong number, but she hits it off with the charmer on the other end of the line. This is Duchovny, and he winds up coming over for sex. Trouble is, it wasn't really a wrong number. Duchovny's a serial seducer who does this to women all the time, chatting his way into their beds then, shying away from commitment, disappearing for good. This time, though, he falls for Kastner and must confront his problems. Again, Duchovny would be impressive, particularly in the initial phone conversation which took up the film's first half-hour.

Duchovny's next movie, Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, would be his first for the major studios. Directed by Stephen Herek, who'd just enjoyed a big hit with Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure, this would see a mother taking off for Australia for two months and leaving behind her five children, aged between 8 and 17. As soon as she departs, though, the elderly babysitter croaks and the eldest kid, Christina Applegate, goes for a job at a clothing manufacturer's to pay the family's way. Through a misunderstanding, she's given a high-powered executive role and must bluff her way onwards, ever under the threat of exposure by Duchovny's weasely and hilariously smarmy office assistant.

Duchovny would now move back to drama with Denial, where Robin Wright's impetuous flightiness would destroy her relationship with an earnest, loving Jason Patric. Years later, now calmer, Wright would be visited by an old friend and forced to confront the memory of what she's lost, Duchovny appearing as a cool dude and wannabe suitor to Wright, making Patric jealous and, in his cowboy hat, representing everything that's superficial about Wright's circle of acquaintances. From here, Duchovny would move on to a tiny role as Officer Tippit in Ruby, the last and arguably least of a slew of JFK movies. Then there'd be Baby Snatcher, a fraught piece where Veronica Hamel, traumatised by a miscarriage, would steal Nancy McKeon's newborn from a maternity ward. Duchovny would play the child's father, a married man having an affair with receptionist McKeon. Really only necessary to the plot in a genetic sense, he says he loves McKeon but shows no sign of leaving his wife, leaving his mistress to fight alone for the return of her baby.

The same year, 1992, would bring two more big features. Duchovny would play a cameraman in Richard Attenborough's excellent Chaplin, then score a far meatier role in the kids' comedy Beethoven. Written by John Hughes, this would see father Charles Grodin reluctantly relent when his three kids and wife Bonnie Hunt ask to house a St Bernard pup. Naturally, chaos ensues, with the family facing not only the dog's clumsy escapades but also an evil vet and yuppie couple Duchovny and Patricia Heaton who plot to take over Grodin's air-freshener business. Once again Duchovny would revel in comedy, impressing with his ludicrous Italian affectations and advanced sliminess.

1993 would be the year when everything changed. First there was Dominic Sena's excellent Kalifornia, a modern retelling of Badlands, where Duchovny played a writer on a road trip, visiting the scenes of mass murderers' crimes. Hitching a ride are Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis, Pitt turning out to be a homicidal maniac himself. Then came producer Chris Carter. Planning a paranormal detective show, he needed an actor who could convincingly convey a belief in everything otherworldly. Duchovny, keen to advance his movie career, thought he'd try it. It couldn't, he reckoned, last more than 12 episodes, and it would get his name around. So, alongside Gillian Anderson's disbelieving Agent Scully, he became Fox "Spooky" Mulder. And, of course, The X-Files took off. Tapping in to New Age belief systems and pre-Millennial fears, as well as appealing to all lovers of Rod Serling, it dominated the ratings and made Duchovny and Anderson the biggest names on the newly burgeoning Internet. Everyone wanted to know if Mulder and Scully were going to, you know, do it. They didn't. Mulder watched porn, but only ever had sex with a vampire.

Though he'd intended it to be a simple springboard, Duchovny would stay with The X-Files for almost nine years (though his appearances would be sparse over the last two of these). Rather than boosting his career, it became it. Often he'd try to leave but always be drawn back. The pay packets were, after all, extraordinary, a big pull for a guy with an innate fear of poverty. And the show would bring him more than money. He'd win a Golden Globe and be nominated on three other occasions, and be twice nominated for Emmys. He'd also get the chance to write and direct episodes. He'd further boost his reputation with hilarious guest appearances on The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live (which he hosted twice) and several now-legendary episodes of The Larry Sanders Show where, playing himself, he flirted outrageously with Garry Shandling - his nerve and timing winning him an American Comedy Award and another Emmy nomination. He'd also, playing up to his off-screen rep, phone Frasier's radio show to ask if having sex three times a day was abnormal, Frasier replying "No, no . . . It's not fair, but it's not abnormal". And he had a song written about him, by one Bree Sharp. Called "David Duchovny", it went "David Duchovny/ Why won't you love me?/ I'm cute and I'm cuddly/ I'm gonna kill Scully". The X-Files crew picked up on it and filmed an unofficial video with Brad Pitt and Whoopie Goldberg amongst those lip-synching along. Sharp actually got a record deal on the back of it.

Throughout the Nineties, Duchovny would spend much of his time in Vancouver, where The X-Files were filmed, the locale being chosen for the rainy ambience and cheap labour. Once he got into trouble for complaining about the weather, causing an uproar in the Canadian media. Signs were put up, ordering him to go home. Eventually The X-Files set was shifted to Los Angeles, at his request. Not because he tired of Canada, but so he could be with his new wife Tea Leoni, star of The Naked Truth, at their home in Malibu. David had met Leoni (also the product of a Manhattan private school, with an Ivy League education) some time before. They'd both auditioned for a spot on Jay Leno's Tonight Show. She got it, he knew she deserved it. Leoni was married, nothing happened. Then, with Leoni's marriage over, agent Risa Shapiro tried to hook the pair up. They didn't bite at first, but did meet once at a party to which Shapiro had cunningly invited them both. Duchovny arrived just as Leoni was leaving, but they said hi and, later, each asked Shapiro for the other's number. They married in 1997 and would have one daughter, Madelaine West, and son Kyd Miller. Leoni would appear in an episode of The X-Files written and directed by her husband, playing Scully to Garry Shandling's Mulder when a movie is based on the agents' cases.

Such was the success of The X-Files, Duchovny had neither the time nor energy to pursue his film career. Indeed, he'd make only two movies in the first seven years of the series' run. One of these was, naturally, an X-Files film which, much to Duchovny's amusement, was slaughtered at the box-office by his wife's Deep Impact. Then there was Playing God where he went right out of character as a disgraced speed-freak doctor who gets employed by gangsters, fixing up their injuries so they don't get busted in hospital. It was cool and nasty, and featured an early appearance by Angelina Jolie, playing the girfriend of gang boss Timothy Hutton and catching Duchovny's eye. Duchovny had been at her audition and backed her for the part.

Eventually, The X-Files could hold him no longer. He'd shown little interest in the eighth series and made few appearances in the ninth, instead preferring to step back into cinema. In 2001, he'd finally leave the show on amicable terms - amicable if you ignore the $25 million lawsuit he launched against the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, claiming that the studio had intentionally sold X-Files reruns and show-rights to their own subsidiaries at a low rate, so his percentage of the profits was kept artificially low.

Duchovny would make his cinematic comeback in 2000's Return To Me, directed by Bonnie Hunt, his former Beethoven co-star (he was actually alerted to the role by George Clooney when the pair were on the same flight to LA, Clooney having earlier beaten Duchovny to the lead in Batman And Robin). Here Duchovny would play a Chicago architect married to zoo worker Joely Richardson. Emotionally battered by her death, he eventually falls for Minnie Driver, a woman who'd be dead herself were it not for a heart transplant. Old-fashioned, sweet and innocent, the film would find its depth in Duchovny's reaction when he discovers that the heart that saved Driver was his wife's.

With The X-Files over, Duchovny threw himself into work, acting but also preparing his own projects. His next release would be the big-budget sci-fi comedy Evolution, where he played a former government scientist disgraced when his anthrax vaccine causes soldiers to excrete violently and lose their hair. Now he's teaching biology in a community school and, along with colleague Orlando Jones, begins an investigation when a meteor lands nearby and unleashes creatures that evolve thousands of times faster than any species on Earth. Complications arise when an army team is called in, led by Ted Levine, who hates Duchovny, and his assistant Julianne Moore, who likes him. Packed with effects and wondrous beasties, it was all good fun, but tanked at the box office.

More successful would be Ben Stiller's Zoolander, where an insanely dumb male model is hypnotised by Will Ferrell's evil fashion guru and set up to assassinate the president of Malaysia. In another excellent comic cameo, Duchovny would stand out as a scruffy, spooked and creepy hand model (for protection he has his hand encased in an airtight cast) who lectures Stiller on the dark secrets of the modelling world. With New Year's Day, Frasier and The Larry Sanders Show, Duchovny had shown he was brave enough to lampoon himself. With Zoolander he was poking fun at his own good looks and the role that made his fortune.

Duchovny would now often toy with his image. 2002's Full Frontal, shot by Steven Soderbergh and his superstar buddies in just 18 days, was a satire of Hollywood, covering 24 hours in the lives of several movers, shakers and hangers-on. Julia Roberts would play a journalist, Brad Pitt a star, Catherine Keener a sadistic personnel director and Duchovny an egocentric producer whose birthday party draws all the characters together. In one of the film's more entertaining scenes, Duchovny would hire Keener's sister, Mary McCormack, to give him a massage, then offer her $500 to, er, relieve his tension. "When was the last time you made $500 for 30 seconds work?" he'd ask. "I need a release!" He'd have another go at himself when popping up in former co-star and director Bonnie Hunt's sit-com Life With Bonnie. Here he'd play a guest on Hunt's morning TV show, a hugely vain local weatherman who's written and directed a new film starring himself as Jekyll and Hyde twins. For this he'd earn another Emmy nomination.

2003 would bring just one Duchovny performance when he appeared in an episode of Sex And The City. Here he'd play the former High School sweetheart of Sarah Jessica Parker, re-entering her life and - witty, vulnerable and sweet - winning her heart all over again. Thing is, he's too vulnerable and is actually living in a mental institution or, as he puts it, a therapeutic community. He's not coming out, so they split. There'd only be one acting gig in 2004, too. This was Connie And Carla, a reworking of Some Like It Hot that saw lifelong friends and terrible singing duo Toni Collette and Nia Vardalos witness a mob killing and flee to Los Angeles, unwittingly carrying a huge stash of coke. Here they pose as drag queens and their act becomes a hit, their new fame threatening their undercover existence. Duchovny would appear as the estranged brother of one of their drag queen friends; relaxed, affable and meeting cute with Vardalos. The film would test credulity to the max and was a big disappointment, particularly as it was Vardalos' follow-up to the smash hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Though absent from the screen for long stretches, Duchovny had been busy writing, directing and starring in his own pet project. This was House Of D, finally released in 2004. Here Duchovny would play an artist in Paris, explaining his past and the reasons for his bad parenting skills to his wife and son. Back we go to Greenwich Village in 1973, where the young Duchovny is played by Anton Yelchin, being brought up by a depressed and pill-popping Tea Leoni and advised on love and life by idiot savant Robin Williams and jailbird Erykah Badu, who speaks to him from a window of the house of detention of the title. The film would be roundly panned by critics who accused it of being self-indulgent and mawkish, clever but unconvincing.

Next up would come Trust The Man, another pet project accused of being smart but heartless. Written and directed by Bart Freundlich, this would star Freundlich's wife and Duchovny's former co-star Julianne Moore, as well as Billy Crudup, Maggie Gyllenhaal and another old friend, Garry Shandling. The movie would concern two relationships in crisis. Moore would play a film star who takes local theatre work at the Lincoln Centre. Her husband, Duchovny, reluctantly becomes a house hubbie but is more frustrated by the fact that he's not getting sex twice a day, consequently his eyes begin to stray towards Dagmara Dominczyk. Meanwhile, Moore's layabout brother Crudup is finding it hard to commit to author Gyllenhaal who's herself tempted by lesbian publisher Ellen Barkin. It was an intelligent rom-com, reasonably diverting, with Duchovny yet again sending up his own image, telling a sex addiction support group that he has a bizarre sliced meat fetish. 2006 would bring another interesting but largely ignored release, the satirical The TV Set, a deliberate step back into comedy. Here Duchovny would play a chubby, bearded TV writer battling for the integrity of his script, frustrated and bewildered as his work is gradually emptied of meaning by philistine company president Sigourney Weaver. The same year he'd continue his directorial career by taking on an episode of TV show Bones.

2007 would bring Duchovny back to the Hollywood front line with the engrossing and big-hearted melodrama Things We Lost In The Fire. Here he'd play a brilliant estate agent, happily married to Halle Berry, the couple living comfortably with their kids in the suburbs. Sadly, though, when visiting his former junkie best friend Benicio Del Toro in his flophouse, Duchovny tries to stop a man beating his wife and is killed. Berry now offers to let Del Toro live and recover in her garage, Duchovny's character and his effect being viewed in flashback as Berry and Del Toro come to terms with their grief. Following this there be Si J'Etais Toi, a remake of Yojiro Takita's Himitsu directed by Vincent Perez. Here Duchovny would be married to Lili Taylor, who'd earlier been Emmy-nominated for her guest spot in The X-Files. The couple are having trouble with teen daughter Olivia Thirlby, but it's nothing compared to the madness when Taylor's killed in a car accident and possesses the body of her daughter. When Duchovny finally accepts what's happened, it's decided that Taylor should continue on with Thirlby's life, difficult as Taylor's now hit on by boys and is filled with jealousy when she sees a counsellor going after her husband. The question of incest is, of course, ever present.

Neither Things We Lost In The Fire or Si J'Etais Toi were hits, but 2007 did bring Duchovny another worldwide success in the TV series Californication. Here he'd play Hank Moody, a successful author now suffering from writer's block. He's also suffering because the love of his life, Natascha McElhone has left him and taken their 12-year-old daughter with her. Lost and lonely, Duchovny proceeds to drown his pain in a torrent of women and drugs, occasionally combining his two favourite vices by snorting cocaine from the buttocks of the woman he's sleeping with. There was loads of sex scenes and sharp dialogue and the viewing public, as usual, were utterly convinced by Duchovny as a smooth sex addict. As said, it was a big, big hit. Duchovny was back, a situation improved further by the announcement of a second X-Files movie.

Duchovny could just take it easy, lounge about with Leoni, indulge in sports (he loves basketball, baseball and swimming), listen to music (Rolling Stones, Black Crowes, Sly Stone, Seventies funk) or read (Norman Mailer, Elmore Leonard and Thomas Pynchon are among his favourites). He could simply marvel at his collection of hundreds of pairs of sneakers. But his ambition now is to write and direct further. It would, after all, be a shame to waste such an education, and a comic brain that, when asked what his wife thought of a famous photo of him naked, pouring tea, and holding his genitals in a teacup, would say "First, I think she thought it was funny. Second, I think she thought I was an idiot for doing it. And finally, she's vowed never to drink out of that cup".

Dominic Wills

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