David Duchovny: Hiding in Plain Sight

"I mean," he continues, "I'm OK, I can take care of myself. But I feel isolated and lonely. I'm not happy."

"If you knew what it was going to be like, would you have taken the series?"

"Can I also know what it would have been like if I didn't take the series? I hate those kinds of things, where people say, 'Stop bitching, you could be working at Burger King now.' As if those are the only two options for me--either act, or 'Would you like a soda with your fries?' I love acting, and I love The X-Files. But doing a television show is like riding an elephant--it goes where it wants, with or without your say. Does that make me an ungrateful bastard?"

Duchovny thinks this over for a minute. "Perhaps it does. I saw this show on TV about how your happiness is sort of predetermined. It has nothing to do with you--you're either one of those people who looks on the bright side, or you're not. Just from looking at you, I can tell that you're one of those really happy people, right? Me, I could convince myself all day that everything's really OK with the world, but I'd still feel blue. All in all, though, I'm not complaining."

By now it is freezing, so we move into Duchovny's trailer, a small, dark, depressing little place. He sees the grimace on my face. "What? I had to buy a little trailer, because we work really late a lot of nights."

"Honey," I say, "a borderline depressed person like you needs sunlight and bright colors. Enough of this gloom." I leaf through the stack of books on Duchovny's table. Joyce Carol Oates short stories, Joseph Campbell. "I don't really understand the fascination with this guy," I say, holding up Campbell.

"It's inspirational. You don't get it because you're already happy. It's for us happiness-handicapped people. I should be able to park in handicapped spaces. 'Officer, look at me, I'm unhappy.' So don't knock Campbell until you've needed him."

While I look through the cabinets and drawers, Duchovny sits at the table and doodles.

"Are you getting tons of scripts now?"

"I think everyone knows that The X-Files films up here for 10 months, and I really can't get anywhere else to do a film in that time. I mean, they didn't offer me Batman, although I had a great joke all ready for that. I say, 'They offered me Batman, but because my nose was so big, they were going to change it to Batmanischewitz.' I'm not sure if anyone would have thought it was funny, though."

"You once did a Richard Gere imitation on Saturday Night Live that I thought was one of the most hilarious things I ever saw. You were dressed like he was in An Officer and a Gentleman ..."

"Yes," says Duchovny. "It was about how he showed all of his emotions with his blinking. And with jaw clenching."

"It drives me nuts when actors clench their jaws," I say.

"Really? I do it a lot. But I don't do it on purpose. I like it, actually."

"I think it's something actors should try to overcome."

"I cringe when I see myself licking my lips. I think it's because I've got a big lower lip and it gets dry. If you'll notice, people with big lips tend to lick them a lot, because they're hanging out there in the wind, and they get chapped. I hate it because it looks self-conscious. Now you'll probably make me self-conscious about clenching my jaw, too."

In his upcoming film, Playing God, Duchovny plays a doctor who has screwed up his life with drugs and lost his license. "He's kind of drifting without any function in life anymore," Duchovny tells me. "He jumps into the fray when there's a shooting at a bar and saves this bad guy's life with just whatever's handy. We took part of the scene from an actual description that happened on an airplane where somebody had a collapsed lung and they had to drain the fluid from it. He uses a coat hanger and an Evian bottle for suction. As MacGyver - ish and silly as it sounds, it could really happen. And because my character does this, the head bad guy, played by Tim Hutton, takes me in and I go to work for him, healing his gangster friends."

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