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Playboy Interview - David Duchovny
  • December 13, 1998 : 15:12
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Playboy: And there was no attraction to her at the time?

Duchovny: She was married then. I remember talking to her before the producer showed up. We had both arrived at the restaurant on time, but she doesn't remember that part. I thought she was lively, funny. And she turned it up a notch when we sat down. She hates that story because she thinks it makes her look like some showbiz All About Eve. When I finally went on The Tonight Show I told this story and then I made up notes that the producer had taken, like, "Téa Leoni is gorgeous and funny and talented, we should have her on the show immediately"; "David Duchovny is a morose loser." And the audience thought it was real. On talk shows I guess I have a deadpan delivery, and people assume what I'm saying is true.

Playboy: Are you more in love now than when you married?

Duchovny: Yeah. It feels different.

Playboy: You said before marrying that staying monogamous requires constant vigilance. Now that you're married does that still hold true?

Duchovny: It's not like you don't notice that a woman is attractive, it's that you know what's at stake. The great benefit of monogamy is that you get to trust the person you're with and she gets to trust you. And so much comes out of that. So whether or not men and women were meant to be monogamous -- and we can debate all the theories until we die -- I know I gain something great from it. Whether or not it's natural.

Playboy: Does Téa expect you to be different from who you are?

Duchovny: No, the wonderful thing about Téa is that I've never felt entirely comfortable as a stereotypical man. I was a successful male figure in that I was respected by boys because I was athletic, I was big enough, I wasn't beat-up on. But I never felt totally comfortable with that. I was never macho. I never wanted to hunt or box or kill. Téa, on the other hand, was a tomboy, athletic, tough, strong. She also was successful as a girl because she was attractive and could do girl things, but she had a strong masculine side. We understand each other's anxieties about gender identity and stuff like that. I'm not talking in terms of sex at all, I'm talking about the roles that are given to us and how we fit in. You would look at me and think I was the most macho of guys, the captain of all the sports teams I ever played on, yet I never felt that way. And you would look at her and think she's a beautiful girly girl, and yet no.

Playboy: Did it take working as a transvestite for an episode of Twin Peaks to bring out your other side?

Duchovny: [Laughs] That was fun. It made it easier for me not to think anything of it. I just felt like, Here's something inside me, why not? We all have access to those things if we just open up. One of the nice things about acting is that it allows you to open up to the other people within you.

Playboy: What did you discover about wearing high heels?

Duchovny: That I was uncomfortable. I felt sorry for women after that. Women's fashion is a subtle form of bondage. It's men's way of binding them. We put them in these tight, high-heeled shoes, we make them wear these tight clothes and we say they look sexy. But they're actually tied up.

Playboy: Why is great sex rare with beautiful women?

Duchovny: There are many answers to that very dangerous question. The first is that you may not be at your best with an extraordinarily beautiful woman. Who was the famous director who married Brigitte Bardot? Roger Vadim? He said he couldn't get it up the first time because she was too beautiful, he was too intimidated. On the other hand, if a woman has been beautiful her entire life, she's never had to work that hard. She hasn't had to be funny, or smart, or a great lay, because people hang around her anyway.

Playboy: Saul Bellow said it was "because great beauties tend to be very narcissistic. They don't give themselves freely because they're much too valuable."

Duchovny: Yeah. See, the good thing about Téa is she didn't blossom until she was older [laughs].

Playboy: How many kids would you like to have?

Duchovny: One at a time. We're working on it now. We're not trying not to. Téa wants to save the umbilical cord in the freezer. If the kid ever gets sick, the cord has the goods in it. That's as far as I'll go: You can put the umbilical cord next to the ice cream. But I don't know about having a frozen clone baby in there for spare parts.

Playboy: What do you fear most?

Duchovny: Not physical stuff. It's more emotional, like public humiliation, abject social failure, shame. Now that I'm married and thinking of having a family, my greatest fear is being unable to defend my loved ones.

Playboy: Would you consider getting a gun?

Duchovny: Yeah. I know how to use one. When I start a family I'll have one. It's not that I believe something will happen; it's that you can have bad luck. What if a nut decides to come to your house? That happens.

Playboy: What do you have for protection now?

Duchovny: A baseball bat. Thirty inches is the best. Thirty-four is a little long because you can't swing it in the doorway.

Playboy: Wooden or aluminum?

Duchovny: Wooden. It's a Louisville Slugger 125.

Playboy: There's an advertisement!

Duchovny: Hey, that would be nice. I wouldn't mind getting some bats.

Playboy: Don't you already have a deal with Nike?

Duchovny: No, I don't have any deal. They send me free stuff. Everybody sends you free stuff when you're famous, in the hopes that you'll wear their stuff in public. Send me whatever you want, I'll wear it. I mentioned Bacardi in an article and they sent me a big crate of booze. I'm an idiot -- I should talk about Tiffany's, about diamonds. Let me give a plug to the Federal Reserve. My favorite bill is the one hundred.

Playboy: How old do you see yourself?

Duchovny: Thirty. I'm always surprised when I catch sight of myself in the mirror and I look older than I feel. My dad tells me the same thing. He's 70 and he keeps wondering who that guy in the mirror is. In New York you see these great old women, they've got to be 90, and they've got the rouge on, the lipstick, they've done their hair. When I was younger I used to think, How ridiculous, you still don't want to fuck them. Isn't that what makeup is about? Then I began to realize it's the life force. They're just staying alive, and they do it by keeping up appearances.

Playboy: You and Téa bought a house north of Malibu. Do you like Southern California better than New York?

Duchovny: I've never really been inspired culturally by any city. I grew up in New York, the greatest city in the world, blah blah blah. I never went to any of the museums, I never was inspired by the street life. I don't see that happening anywhere, where people are hanging out in cafés influencing one another. And to me that's the only reason to live in a thriving metropolis. Other than that, Hollywood is full of Philistines and pieces of shit, sure, but so is every other city. California's got great weather and is very livable.

Playboy: More so, obviously, than Vancouver was for you. Are you glad to be away from there?

Duchovny: It's great for me to be down here because I'm living at home. I can't downplay the kind of comfort there is in going home at night, rather than going to an apartment or a place I never considered home. That's all that I ever really wanted to do.

Playboy: Is it true that a Vancouver strip club told you to go home because you knocked the city -- comparing it to a tropical rainforest without the tropics?

Duchovny: There was a reporter at the Vancouver Province who thought that he could sell papers by misrepresenting me and putting me on the cover of the paper. Then the strip club thought that it could get in the paper, and it did, by barring me from the club, which I'd been to maybe once in five years. Bad-mouthing me became a way for people to sell whatever they were selling.

Playboy: But you did knock the city.

Duchovny: Yeah, and if I had to do it again I wouldn't. Everybody knows it rains a lot up there, and everybody who saw that interview could see I was joking. I thought it was clear that I was making a joke, but I underestimated the xenophobia and the fact that I was a foreigner and a guest in that city. I won't do that again.

Playboy: How much time have you spent in therapy, trying to figure out who you are?

Duchovny: I have a therapist I trust. I've known him six years. When we were shooting in Vancouver I called him, we did the phone thing. Each session lasted an hour. And I also paid for the call, which I didn't think was fair -- he should have paid. I'm good on the phone. My view of therapy is that it helps you tell the story of your life to yourself as you're living it, in a way that makes you happier than you might be without it. I don't really believe it's a way of getting to the truth, and I don't believe it can heal you. It teaches you to seize the narrative of your life in a way that makes it better for you. That's what I've gotten out of it. I now have a different view on the events of my life and my participation in them.

Playboy: So you're enjoying a better made-up life than whatever the reality might be?

Duchovny: [Laughs] No, no. I tell him the terrible things that I do and he tells me they're not so terrible. "Here, let's look at it this way." There's a therapist named James Hillman who I like very much, and that's his thinking -- that the self is a fictional creation anyway. Therapy enables you to seize control of that fictionalization and not be made by other people. If the greatest artwork in life is the creation of who you are, then it's good to apprentice to a good therapist.

Playboy: Some people we know do Freudian therapy five days a week.

Duchovny: My dad did that for a while. I can't imagine it. I don't have that much to say. My internal monolog is heavy, but I can't keep talking to somebody like that.

Playboy: With that said, how do you feel about doing interviews?

Duchovny: I get interviewed out. There are only so many interviews I want to do. I get tired of hearing the sound of my voice. I repeat myself, which makes me feel like an impostor. It can send you into a funk. One of the tricks of interviewing that always kills me is a question like, "Tell me about your acting style." And I'll say, "Well, the kind of acting that I do is blah blah blah." Then that will appear in the article without the question, like I just started talking about my acting style. Why do actors always appear so self-centered? Well, they've got people asking them questions about themselves. It's not their choice to talk about themselves.

I would rather talk about other people. It's more interesting to hear about you than to talk about me. I like it when Norman Mailer interviews somebody because it's always about Mailer. You know you're safe with him, because you don't have to talk much about yourself. You'll talk about Mailer's impression of you and how you remind him of him. Newsweek felt so bad about putting us on the cover that they had to insult us in the article. There was this give-and-take in that article where they asked me, like you did, if The X-Files is a religious show. I said, "It's as religious as Howdy Doody." The writer says, "No, but really--" And I go, "Well, it has to do with people having metaphysical yearnings that are no longer answered in traditional ways." Then I see the article and it says, "Duchovny alternates between flip and pretentious." Well, where else could I fall? What were the possibilities for me? You asked me the question, I tried to tell you what I think, you didn't accept that so I tried to answer it in the terms you gave me. And then you present me as an obnoxious high schooler-pretentious former Yale graduate student, putting me in the most clichéd group. After that article I just went, "Fuck it. I'm not going to win this one." So I decided to be quiet. This will be the last interview I'll do for a while. I have no reason to publicize the TV show. I felt loyal to the movie and I wanted to get my face out there. I played that game. But when you see that kind of shit come back at you, it's painful.

Playboy: Whose ideas in this century have intoxicated you?

Duchovny: Freud. Nietzsche. Wallace Stevens. Darwin is probably the most revolutionary thinker and most influential of all time.

Playboy: Would these people be the ones you'd like to have at the proverbial dinner with historical figures?

Duchovny: Nah, you don't know them, they're not famous. You've got to think party. If you have Darwin, Christ and Nietzsche, they're all going to talk at once. You need somebody who listens.

Playboy: Who would you have, then?

Duchovny: Gee. Christ. Buddha. Elvis for a little fame. We'd retire to the drawing room and Elvis would sing a bit. Shakespeare would be interesting because he was an actor; I could talk to him about acting and writing. And the fifth? Who's cooking? Get Wolfgang Puck.

Playboy: So, no women at your table?

Duchovny: That's true. Joan of Arc. Or Anne Hutchinson. Or Anne Boleyn, because she was hot and would have some good gossipy stuff about that time. Typhoid Mary I'd want to talk to, as long as she wouldn't spill.

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