David Duchovny: He’s Funny! Honest
[Original article here]
He’ll always be known as Agent Mulder from “The X-Files” but actor David Duchovny is so much more. He’s very funny, which Mulder rarely was, he gestures when he talks and he is more interested in comedy timing than UFO’s.
In the new comedy film Connie and Carla, David plays Jeff, a really nice guy who falls for Nia Vardalos…in drag. Being a straight man, Jeff wonders why he’s so attracted to this drag queen. In casual blue tee and matching long-sleeved shirt, the actor buzzed in to our interview room at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills (where Pretty Woman was shot) and was willing to answer all questions, including those about another possible “X-Files” movie, his on-set pranks and his previous experience with being in drag.
TeenHollywood: Is this character Jeff similar to you? Or, having played a guy in drag, did you give advice to Nia and Toni?
David: I suppose Jeff is similar, but in my history, from “Twin Peaks”, I’m the one usually wearing the dress which is what I would’ve preferred, but they wouldn’t let me. It’s been 15 years since I did that and my a** isn’t as good as it used to be. There were real drag queens in this movie though. I’m just a dilettante, a dabbler. I’d done it and really enjoyed doing the character and thought I was decent at it. But these guys, they were real performers. I wanted to show them, I wanted the chance to dress up and dance and sing, but they wouldn’t let me.
TeenHollywood: Not even between takes?
David: Well, it’s really hard to all of a sudden bust out in a dress and a wig. It’s not something you can do, ‘just give me 30 seconds and I’ll come back with my own drag name’. No, it didn’t happen, but maybe if there’s a sequel, Connie and Carla and That Guy.
TeenHollywood: How did you get that famous “Twin Peaks” cross dresser role anyway?
David: That part was written for James Spader who knew the producers of “Twin Peaks”. And he, for some reason, had to drop out and they were desperately trying to cast the role and I think I came in on a Friday with an emery board. That was my big deal. That’s all. That’s what I did during the audition and it worked. I just remembered thinking ‘oh my God, I’ve never been in a dress or shaved my legs and now I’ve got to go do this on Monday’. And I had no idea what I was doing. I was thinking why, aside from sexual preference or liking to wear a dress, would a man want to be a woman? And I just felt well, you get to be more spontaneous and open and friendly. That’s kind of the approach I took. A very innocent, friendly kind of point of view.
TeenHollywood: Did you look hot?
David: (laughs) Not good. I had good legs, but as Bill Murray said in Tootsie, “Don’t play hard to get.” That’s probably what I would be told. (note: Hey, we saw him in drag on that show and he was cute!)
TeenHollywood: Talk about what attracted you to this role in Connie and Carla? There’s a nice relationship between Jeff and his cross-dressing brother in the movie.
David: I saw the fun kind of Cyrano part of falling in love with a woman that you think is a man, the Shakespeare in Love part and I thought that was a fun and classic comedy set up in a way, but on top of that or below that was this relationship with the brother… and I thought that was really interesting. One of the difficult things in trying to do the performance was to strike a tone in the movie and in the performances that could withstand both the wacky comedy aspect but also a very real kind of family situation and two brothers coming together.
TeenHollywood: Did you go try out for the role?
David: Well, we had to meet in the middle somewhere. They came to me to express interest but I think that there is always this thing where they wonder too if I was funny. They thought I might be funny, but they wanted to see me be funny. So I went and I was really funny. Then we did the movie. And I just look at auditioning as rehearsal, because there’s so little rehearsal that we get to do in movies. They spend millions of dollars and then the first time these actors are saying the words to one another is on film, and it’s ridiculous.
TeenHollywood: We hear you are famous for on-set pranks. Did you pull any pranks on this set?
David: I seem to remember that I gave Nia a Polaroid of my a**. I can’t remember why, or how I took it. Because when you do it in the mirror, it flashes out and you don’t get anything, because I’ve tried that 100 times. When I’d gotten to my trailer, they had already been up for like two weeks working and Nia had done something to my trailer, something bad. I can’t remember what it was but I had to avenge it. I saran wrapped her toilet seat at one point. You know that trick? It seems clear and it’s not and then you, you know. But she never said anything about that which leads me to believe- – well, we all know she doesn’t have to go. She’s perfect.
TeenHollywood: Okay, here come the “X-Files”questions. Do you still have to box your way out of being typecast?
David: For sure. I’m always joking with my manager about how people always say to me, “I didn’t know you were funny.” It’s just part of the baggage of being on a show that was that big. It doesn’t make any sense to run from it or deny it. It just is what it is, I’m proud of “The X Files”, I’m happy that it made so much happen for me as a person, as an actor. I wouldn’t want it any other way, but it also brings these other barriers. If you look at it the right way, it can be fun to overcome because you can surprise people.
TeenHollywood: Will there be another “X-Files” movie?
David: I think it definitely will happen. Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz are busy at work. They have an idea which they like and they keep threatening to tell me. I wish they would. They’re going to tell me soon. They’re just setting about writing it now, so we’ll be doing it in the next year.
TeenHollywood: How will the character develop?
David: I don’t know if Mulder should develop. I mean, Mulder is Mulder. That’s one of the things I learned fighting for the last three or four years on the show trying to change the guy or give him a French accent one day. The nature of the character and what I eventually learned to love about him is he’s set. He’s set and he’s a great character. So the great thing about Mulder is we know what he’s going to do and we know what he likes and what he loves and what he hates. We’re just going to play with that I’m sure.
TeenHollywood: Will the film start where the series left off?
David: I don’t know. My feeling about the second “X Files” movie was, since it’s going to come after the show is not running anymore, is that it had to be like a stand alone show with a really great part for a guest star, another actor who’s not part of the show. So apparently, that’s what Chris and Frank have is a great X-File idea with another actor or actress who can really score in a really great thriller/sci-fi role, so I hope that takes the show towards the fans but also towards new fans. And Mulder will wear a dress of course.
TeenHollywood: We’d pay to see that. Would you star in something opposite your wife Tea?
David: Tea and I have chemistry, obviously I think we do in life, but sometimes that’s a very sacred thing. We’re married and we consider our chemistry sacred. So in a way, if we were to act, it might feel weird exhibiting this sacred chemistry and in a way, we might be more inhibited as performers with one another than we are as people with one another, or it could be great, I don’t know. But it’s my feeling that I would feel a little more inhibited showing people what I feel about this woman because I feel like that’s my business. Whereas I can fake showing how I feel about any other woman. That’s my show business. That was well put, come on.
TeenHollywood: Connie and Carla are great musical theater lovers. Are you?
David: I can’t stand it. No, I kept saying I could dance as long as you don’t tell me I’m supposed to be dancing. I never was a big fan of musical theater. When we all did the big table read before we were going to start shooting, Nia and Toni had all these song cues and they had the actual song arrangements down and they sang. And at first, I thought, “Oh my God, this is going to take forever.” And it did. But, I kept turning to Nia and I go, “That’s a really good tune.” And she was just laughing at me because it was all these really famous tunes that I was hearing for the first time and I was like ‘That’s from “Cats”? Really? If I had to sit through three hours to hear that one tune, I wouldn’t do it but the good thing about this movie is it seems like they had all of the good tunes put together. It’s fun.
Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.