The Orange County Register

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Feature attraction
'X-Files' star David Duchovny makes his big-screen directorial debut with 'House of D.'

The Orange County Register

Tall, handsome and married to Tea Leoni. What more could David Duchovny want from life?

As it turns out, he wants to direct.

The former star of "The X-Files" has written and directed "House of D," a nostalgic coming-of-age movie about a boy (Anton Yelchin) approaching his 13th birthday in Greenwich Village in the 1970s. Duchovny plays the boy as a man reminiscing about his life, Leoni is the boy's mother and Robin Williams plays a mentally challenged man who befriends the youngster. The film opened Friday.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: You grew up in the Village, which is also the setting for your movie. Describe your old neighborhood.

DAVID DUCHOVNY: It was an odd neighborhood. It was mostly Puerto Rican and Ukrainian back in the 1970s, which is an interesting mixture. It was n't quite gentrified yet, so it was all middle-class and lower middle-class families.

OCR: So, how much of the movie is autobiographical?

DUCHOVNY: There are superficial similarities, like being a scholarship student at a private school and having a job delivering meat. These are the small things that bring color to a story, although my father eventually moved to Paris, and that gave me the idea of having the character go to Paris. That's what you do as a writer - you take things that mean something to you and try to figure out how to make them mean something to someone else.

OCR: How was the directing experience?

DUCHOVNY: The 30 days I had to get up and direct the movie were wonderful days.

OCR: Any surprises?

DUCHOVNY: It was nothing but surprises. It was so different than directing ("The X-Files") because that was a crew that already knew how to shoot the show. That was a great starting point for a new director. The look of the show and the characters were established. When you're directing your own movie, you're making it all up as you go along.

OCR: Any insecurities?

DUCHOVNY: When I was preparing to shoot the film, I felt that there was no way I could do this. I didn't know enough to direct a movie. But when you start shooting, you realize that all you have to do is answer yes or no to a lot of people. They know how to do their jobs; you just have to tell them what color you want the wall and stuff like that.

OCR: When was the first time you wrote anything?

DUCHOVNY: I went to a hippie school in first grade, and I remember that we all had to write a novel.

OCR: Do you remember what it was about?

DUCHOVNY: Absolutely. The book followed a penny around. It gets spent, it goes place to place and then ends up on a railroad track.

OCR: It sounds like "The Yellow Rolls Royce" or that movie about the gun.

DUCHOVNY: Exactly. I think it was pretty clever for first grade.

OCR: If you hadn't been tall and good- looking, you could have been a writer instead of an actor.

DUCHOVNY: My mom would have preferred that.

OCR: Were your parents disappointed that you went into acting?

DUCHOVNY: Not my dad so much. He was a writer who never made his living as a writer, so he understood the idea of trying to pursue something that you love to do. My mother wanted me to learn a trade so that I could support myself. That's why she loved that I pursued an education so that my trade would be teaching. She was horrified that I would throw that away. For the longest time, she would ask if I might finish my dissertation.

OCR: You can't really blame her.

DUCHOVNY: No, actually it would look nice on the credits - Dr. David Duchovny.

OCR: How has your life been since you left "The X-Files"?

DUCHOVNY: Much more unstructured than before. Being on a series is like being in school. You have be somewhere every day.

OCR: Did the lawsuit and the bad press leave a bitter aftertaste in your mouth? (In 1999, Duchovny sued Fox for $25 million, alleging that he was being denied his rightful share of "X-Files" profits; the suit was settled in 2000.)

DUCHOVNY: The lawsuit was with Fox; it wasn't with anyone I was working with. Any ill feelings with people involved with the show are long over. Nobody associated with the show ever accused me of trying to duck out early. I did eight seasons. It was never as bad as it seemed from the outside.

OCR: You took a lot of hits in the media. Was that propaganda spread by the other side of the lawsuit?

DUCHOVNY: I don't know if it had to do with the lawsuit as much it was the type of thing that gets written about actors. They said I was spoiled, demanding and trying to get out of working, but I'm the opposite of that. I'm proud of my work ethic.

OCR: So, if you had it to do over again, you'd still accept the role as Fox Mulder?

DUCHOVNY: I owe everything to that role, and money is the least of it. I literally learned how to act on that show, not to mention learning how to write and direct.

OCR: And you got to sleep with Tea Leoni.

DUCHOVNY: You resent that I got her, don't you?

OCR: I never said that.

DUCHOVNY: It's OK; I get that a lot.