By: PAMELA HARLAND
Profile: DAVID DUCHOVNY SITS IN THE DIRECTING CHAIR WITH HOUSE OF D
The former X-FILES star stays close to home with his new film that's loosely inspired by events in his life while he hints at a new X-FILES film in his future
What better way to work out your childhood dramas then on the big screen in front of millions? That's exactly what David Duchovny is doing, well sort of, with HOUSE OF D which he stars in, wrote and directed, no less. The film itself, however, is not based on Duchovny's life, only based on events that happened to him.
"My own personal story is not the stuff in the movie," explains Duchovny. "I wanted to make a universal film about growing up but in order for me to be keenly specific then I was going to use stuff from my own childhood, images and things that I knew."
HOUSE OF D plots an American artist living in Paris and working through his childhood past.
"The character isn't similar but the situation is," elaborates Duchovny. "For me the more specific I can be with anything as an actor, writing, filmmaker, I think the more universal you can get because it has truth and that rings true. Truth rings true."
Keeping the film even closer to home, Duchovny's wife, actress Tea Leoni, plays his character's mother in the film. Although the 44-year-old Duchovny, who wrote the film in 6 days, did not intend to have Leoni play that role, she actually hit him up for the part.
"Late in the process she kind of said, 'I'd like to play the role of the mom.' And I said, 'fine' -- it was that easy," says Duchovny. "So that was just an added bonus."
Luckily the strain of making a film and being a spouse on set wasn't a problem for Duchovny. Leoni only worked a week on the film and Duchovny says it worked out beautifully.
"It wasn't a lifestyle change -- it wasn't anything," says Duchovny. " It was a week in September a year and a half ago. It was a nice week."
A much harder task was getting this small little script financed, especially since it was written by an actor. Duchovny recognized the fact that he was making a film for adults with a kid in the lead role, not an easy sale.
"Talk to any marketing guy and they'll go, 'How do I sell that? What has worked? STAND BY ME? OK, I can name only one,' " recalls Duchovny.
Marketing wasn't why Duchovny wrote the script so he knew when it came to selling his story it would take a lot more work than just the six days it took writing it. He knew his only hope was a bankable actor.
"I knew I could ask someone like Robin Williams [Duchovny's first choice] and I could honestly say that I needed him for three weeks," says Duchovny rehashing his sell of the role. " 'You're not going to get paid but you're going to be in New York for three weeks. That's not hell. It's not so bad. You get to play a really good role.' "
The part Williams ultimately did take was that of Pappass, a mentally challenged janitor who befriends the younger version of Tommy Warshaw (played by Anton Yelchin). Duchovny played Warshaw as an adult but finding an actor to play Tommy as a child for awhile looked to be impossible.
"I couldn't find a movie star kid because they don't exist," recalls Duchovny. "I looked and looked around and it's a very hard role. It's deceptive, or maybe not deceptive but it's a hard role. He's got to be so human and so sensitive and so mature and so immature and so funny and emotionally available. It's a tough role and a great role for any actor to have. And it's hard to find a 14 year old that can do that."
Luckily an acting teacher and casting director came to the rescue. Apparently word had it that there was this kid who could fit the bill. Reluctantly, Duchovny auditioned young Anton Yelchin and was surprised by his girth of talent.
"Finally I said, 'Let me see the kid'," remembers Duchovny. "He walked in and he was the guy. He was perfect. He was perfect in his audition and he was perfect on set."
Now when the perfect script comes along Duchovny says he and Gillian Anderson will join THE X-FILES creator Chris Carter in another full-length motion picture based on the series. It's been seven years since the last one and Duchovny admits he's stoked and ready to do another one.
"The willingness is there," says Duchovny. "Mine, Gillian and Chris (Carter). I think Chris would direct it probably. So it depends on Fox sitting down with Chris and deciding how they're going to go about getting a script out of him and when."
That doesn't sound like they'll be making it any time soon but Duchovny seems confident there will be "at least" one more.
"I know it will happen," reveals Duchovny. "I mean it seems like it's got to happen because I always thought of it as a franchise."
There is a great eagerness for him as well as for Anderson and Carter, says Duchovny, to get back together on screen. But it wasn't always there, especially right after they did the film version of the hit show back in 1998. They were still shooting the TV series and all X'ed out. The last thing they wanted to do after they finished the film was to do it all over again. Duchovny says it nearly killed them all to work so hard and keep up the quality of the show.
"When [the film] came and went, the show had lost some popularity and it wasn't the wonderful thing that it was six years earlier, " says Duchovny referring to when they came back to the television show after the film wrapped. "It just made sense to wait. I think, until people missed it. I think it was even until we missed it. The last thing we wanted to do at the end of nine years was to do another movie."
The chances of seeing Duchovny back in an hour-long TV drama from week to week are slim as well. The actor says he feels like he's already been given the best show he could have worked on, so everything else would just be second rate. In other words, why do it? On the other hand, a sitcom might be something he would consider in the near future.
"There's something about a sitcom that's kind of attractive to me," says Duchovny. "I like going from project to project and fulfilling every project and it's the same with a sitcom. You're working so hard on one thing, doing one thing over and over. There's a certain wonderful thing in that because you get better and better at your one thing. But I feel like I have other things to do. If you see me on a sitcom you'll know that I've given up on those other things."
As for a filmmaker from the way Duchovny gushes about the experience there is no doubt he will direct again.
"I had a wonderful time," smiles Duchovny. "I had the most fun in the profound sense of jumping out of bed every morning and being excited to go to work. They wouldn't have to pay me for this and in fact they didn't."
Although Duchovny admits his biggest fear in filmmaking is the technical aspect of it all. "I was terrified that I was stunted in that area that my brain was shriveled for some reason in that area and it wasn't as bad as I thought," says Duchovny. "I had a little more sense than I thought."
Overall Duchovny feels he's reached a peak in his life with HOUSE OF D, joking that this experience can be considered more than just therapeutic.
"My mid-life crisis was directing a film," says Duchovny.