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August 2006
TRUST THE MAN: An Interview with David Duchovny

TRUST THE MAN: An Interview with David Duchovny
By Wilson Morales

August 16, 2006

Though it’s been some years since “The X-Files” has been off the TV screen, it’s still hard for folks not to see David Duchovny as Fox Mulder. He created a lasting impression with that character that he’s been taking any movie role that offers the opportunity to play something different. From “Connie and Carla” to his directing gig, “House of D”, he’s put in the work to shed the image and create a new on-screen persona. In 2001, he starred in “Evolution” with Julianna Moore and that led to a friendship that has granted him access to playing her husband in Julianne’s real-life husband, Bart Freundlich’s new film, Trust The Man, in which David plays a man torn between being a faithful husband. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Duchovny spoke about his role and working with Julianne again as well as a comeback to the X-Files franchise.

How are you picking projects?

David Duchovny: I just have an Instinctual kind of thing a gut reaction to thing and not I gave up long ago trying to have any kind of conscious control of hat it is I'm doing or trying to figure out a career or some kind of path I realized at one point that the more I know the less I know so its just like that feels right feels like a challenge feels fun feels good.

What was it about this part?

DD: This one I was in on early from when Bart was writing it. Because he had said I want to write a comedy with you in it. And I said sure you know. We friends of Bart had always wanted him to do a comedy so he finally listened and he wrote this. So I read the first draft and I was in immediately.

Since you know him and you playing Julianne's husband were you throwing and Bart references that would take the piss out of him?

DD: No because Bart takes the piss out himself so much. But the four of us even the two women were aspects of Bart. I didn't feel my character was more Bart than say Maggie's character. We all said things that sounded like Bart from time to time. The only weird moments were being in the cab and having to do a little kissy scene with Julianne and Bart is three feet away behind the camera. Julie was funny because she would say "he would get made at me". I was like you wrote it. It didn't matter.

Did it get awkward after a while?

DD: Yeah, we're both pros but you never know, its always hard to know what is going to look right on camera because there is no love scene, we're not naked but we do kiss, and kiss intimately as lovers would kiss in the movie. So its always, it's not really a negotiation, but it's a discussion that you have before, like if you and I were going to do it, the we say how much tongue we're going to use. Its really about the tongue, really because you don't want it to seem like you're not kissing that way because its a movie. That's worse than having it look ugly because you are using your tongues. You know what I mean. Because nothing will take you more out of a movie than to see a husband and wife like you know very chastely kissing like that. Nothing takes you out more than seeing saliva joining two people. So there is a little bit of how much we open our mouths. You know.

Was Bart saying "A little more tongue"?

DD: No. No. Not when we're rolling.

Do you have room for Improvisation?

DD: Yeah sometimes At least it was very open to come up to Bart before shooting a scene. We would do takes that were more loose than other ones. Bart is very kind of open and accepting as the writer part of his writer/director monitor. If its better its better. If its good its good. Whatever, just try whatever you want.

Whose idea was it for Tom to have this porn fascination?

DD: Oh, That's Bart.

Fox also had a fascination with porn.

DD: Oh, Mulder had a porn thing. I had forgotten about that.

You had a lot of roles that had a sexual inclination, in Julia Has Two Lovers you played a guy into phone sex. Why is it you play these roles?

DD: It's instinctually. You are making me remember. I'm going to fail a test of my own work. I don't now. I think I get that and I think I can play it. I don't know, maybe somebody might be more uncomfortable playing the truth of that. I really loved that scene in this movie. Aside from being kind of twisted and really funny, I thought it was also true because it was guy. If you get out of the mind set of, oh my god its porn, its sex, shocking, scandalous, funny, whatever, it’s really a guy trying to connect with his wife trying to find new ways to tell his wife what he needs you know I just thought it was kind of wonderfully sad and yearning underneath this very funny and really original scene I thought. You know when we were at the Toronto Film Festival, after the screening, somebody goes "Thank you for making a traditional romantic comedy and coming back to making these kind of. Do you think that this is a traditional romantic comedy?" And I said, "well if you're definition of a traditional romantic comedy is one in which a husband tries to get his wife to narrate a porn scene while he lies next to her masturbating in bed, than yes than it's a traditional romantic comedy." So, what I like about the film and what I like about the scene is it actually has. Unlike so many of the other movies out now which are really laugh-oriented first and relationship-oriented second, which is why the third act of most of these movies are so bad, because all of a sudden I'm supposed to have sentiment, no I'm supposed to feel something for these people. I feel like Bart's movie actually does kind of hold those two things together. That scene stands for me as one of the most successful moments of out and out, what could be called, gross, or modern, edgy comedy with the reality of a relationship underneath it.
Did you discuss this character with your wife with what rang true or didn't ring true?

DD: No, we never do that. Sometimes, if I discuss it with my wife, I'll discuss, you know, we'll discuss how we're approaching building the character or what kind of work we're trying to do, or if we have questions, or having trouble unlocking this aspect, do you have any ideas. But it's never like, oh is this like me or is this like you.

What is the secret to a good marriage?

DD: It's probably, getting back to that scene. It's probably one person, its usually having the balls, which is another good thing to say in this movie, to say what you want. That's what I like about this character. He's in a relationship in trouble yet he's actually saying, you know, I need more. It's rare in movies or even in life, where somebody owns up to their needs. I guess in a relationship it's the only way it has a chance to survive it. If somebody says what they want or what they need it gives the person the chance to say yes or no, instead of suffering in silence or depravation or whatever it is you could be in without saying anything. I've never articulated that before, I don't know if it made sense or even if I believe it, but that's what came out of my mouth.

What do you think makes a successful relationship comedy?

DD: I think in this day and age, without over selling the movie, Ireally do believe that this is more modern in the sense of like the motive of Wedding Crashers (unintelligible) which are like hard on comedies, all of a sudden very popular, yet underneath there is this old fashioned kind of whimsical, almost Woody Allen-ish, Annie Hall that we aspire to. I think there is a real, it's kind of ambitious in that way what Bart's done, but on the other hand it's a movie that you are supposed to have a good time with. It's not trying to be anything more than that.

Was Bart reluctant to write a comedy?

DD: Yeah. Yeah. Is Bart going to be in here? If I was to venture a guess I would say, like Woody Allen, I think Bart probably feels that he can only be deep if he's serious because he is younger and as he gets a little older, Bart begins to realize that his depth is also in the comedy.

Are you going to write a comedy soon?

DD: I have a couple I just haven't uh.
What are you going to do with them?

DD: When I stop acting so much then I'll get to them.
A ren't you going to act in it? Your wife should be in one too.

DD: Yes. My wife should be in any comedy. Yeah that's true. I wish that I could write a movie that could service her talents. It's one of the things that I would love to be able to do. I don't know if I have that in me. But I have a comedy that I wrote that I want to act in and not direct, and one I want to direct in and not act in. And one I want to do just craft services on. I don't know.
Do you and your wife like working together?

DD: I like working together. It was fun. But acting together, she has said, and I will say what she says, even though again I'm not sure if I believe it, but it makes sense to me kind of, she says I never want to look at you and know that you're lying, which is what you do when you are acting, so she is putting the relationship in front of this weird situation where we would be acting together. But having said that, if we come across this thing that was amazing, which had two roles we loved for a man and a woman, I'm sure we would give it a try.

Is there another X Files movie on the horizon?

DD: It's always on the horizon. I'm still very much in touch with Chris Carter, Gillian. Both Gillian and I are positive about it, it’s not like we're running from it. It's just a matter of there are some legal things that need to be resolved over at Fox.

Is there a script?

DD: I have not seen a script, but there is an idea.

Where do you see your character going?

DD: Oh, where does he go? I mean, you know, he's there. Well the first one he'd come back, so he wouldn't go anywhere, he'd actually come back. If we had in mind some sort of serialization in the movies for this character I think this second one, after three or four years the shows has been off, I think you would have to reestablish the character rather than change him, you would really have to reestablish who this guy is first for people who haven't seen it or coming to a conclusion.

I hear that you might play the Hulk.

DD: No. I don't know where that came from.
How do you feel about lying for a living?

DD: It’s truthful lying. By lying I mean playing. I mean fictionalizing. I mean creating, I mean fantasizing. It's not lying about what is its lying about what isn't. So, I feel much better about lying about what isn't than lying about what is. I don't give it any kind of the kind of creative lying aspect of acting or writing or directing or creating fiction. I don't moralize at all. I feel like, um, I feel good about it. I feel like, uh you know, in this day and age with what's going on I think we should be using our imaginations a little more to try and see ourselves into another situation rather than the one we find ourselves in, so. More people should try to lie their way into a better character or a better future.
This character is a sex addict. Is that resolved in the movie?

DD: I think that he is not actually a sex addict. I think he goes to a sex addict, cause he. Basically, he's had one affair and he wants to have more sex with his wife. I think he is such a neurotic guy that he thinks because I had this affair I must be a sex addict. It's like a guy who got drunk one night and ends up at alcoholic anonymous the next day. In that sense, I think what he says at the end, I can't remember it exactly, but he says I don't know I make that joke it’s really been good to be here because I realize that you guys have a lot worse problems than I do. Then he says, I'm just kidding actually, he says, I have some problem I don't know what it is, but I know I'm screwing up my life by not doing something. It's resolved in that he's aware of something. I don't know if sex addict is what it is, but obviously it's helpful to be in that room with all of those people. Actually my favorite shot for my character in the movie is that when he does that trust exercise and falls in to a group of people. The title of the movie being Trust the Man I think it is more about trust than sex at that point.
What was like working with Gary Shandling?

DD: Gary is a good friend of mine. He doesn't work much, he says no to everything. Bart wrote this part of the psychiatrist and he said and Bart knows Gary through me and he said do you think Gary will play it? I said probably not but I said you should send it to him, its one scene so maybe he'll, and Gary said yes immediately so I was shocked and happy. I think Gary is underrated as an actor, I don't think he's underrated as a comedian or as a creator of original and TV that is influential till this day. I think he is a fine actor and people don't often look past his persona to the kind of specific work that he does. I love being with Gary, I love working with him. The sub-element was the house husband.

Was that something you guys talked about to make it feel authentic?

DD: Not so much. I think Bart just knew that about me. You should ask Bart that when he comes in because I know Bart has had anxieties about that, that feeling of being a non famous half of a famous couple. Certainly what I related to was the frustration and the inability to take care of your kids in a competent way. Working with actual babies will put you in touch with that pretty quickly. The baby that I worked with when in the supermarket and buying the porn magazine is crying hysterically. Every time I came near her. You may say on the one hand that I'm frightening to children. But I think actually hat it is that she knew that every time she came to me that everybody would get real quiet and stare at her. It was like please lets just act normal when I have the baby because then everything gets quiet and we're rolling and hoping the baby doesn't cry. That baby was just balling. The cuts that we use are when the baby is turned away.

What do you have coming up?

DD: The TV Set with Jake Kasdan. I don't know when it comes out. Which is great, I'm really proud of that. The Secret, which is a thriller that I shot last year. I don't know when either of them come out. But I'm going to Vancouver to shoot Things We Lost in the Fire in a couple weeks. Susanne Biers, she's really good, I didn't know her before taking this movie. She's Danish or Scandinavian of some kind. It's kind of a recovery movie. It's about Halle Berry and I are married, have two kids, and My best friend from childhood is a junkie who I keep in touch with and she is not happy that I keep in touch with him. I get killed partway through the movie. Benicio Del Toro plays the best friend kind of is forced to turn his life around by becoming part of my family in a way, helping my kids, helping her. So you kind of, it's a melodrama, but I think it's very well written and it's moving and it's pretty heavy.
You seem to do a lot of movies in New York.

DD: I love to work in New York.


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