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Interview: California Dreamy

Friday, February 1

David Duchovny on Californication’s season of sex, drugs—and rock ’n’ roll

“David Duchovny, why won’t you love me, why won’t you love me?!,” keened the lyrics of 1999’s cult-pop hit entitled—what else?—“David Duchovny.” The song expressed the global infatuation legions felt for the droll Princeton- and Yale-educated actor and his Golden Globe-winning run as The X-Files’ UFO-chasing FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder. Duchovny once feared he’d “never get out from under the shadow of that role,” but almost 20 years later, Mr. D is still wickedly dancing away. This month he returns for a sixth sex-soaked season as Hank Moody, Californication’s writer and incorrigible ne’er-do-well. “It’s a blast,” says Duchovny. We agree, say we.

Watch!: So, Hank Moody is an alcoholic stoner and a shameless womanizer—and I love him. Should I get help?
David Duchovny: (Laughing.) No. Hank is attractive because he tells the truth, he’s not hypocritical and it’s rare we get a character like that. He’s outspoken to the detriment of his own health and well-being; he’s truly himself and that’s admirable, in a way, but you know that he’s always going to say the wrong thing and it’s going to be funny. Or disastrous.
Watch!: Or both. Will Season 6 kick butt as hard as the first five?
David: I hope so. Every year, Hank gets swept up in a new group of guest stars, and however they happen to make their living is the world he lives in. This year it’s rock ’n’ roll, because Hank’s been enlisted to make a big, shiny musical from one of his books.

Watch!: Word is, he’ll be collaborating with a coke-addled rock star played by the composer of the hit musical Matilda, Tim Minchin, and that there’ll be loads of real-life rock stars, too.
David: Yeah, we’ve got Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Keaton Simons, Sebastian Bach, Marilyn Manson and—

Watch!: Wait! Has Marilyn taught you any satanic rituals?
David: Oh, no. He’s really the boy next door as far as I’m concerned.

Watch!: I love you for that. Speaking of reputations, yours is one of a brainiac. What have you read lately?
David: I read the Erroll Morris book on the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case. I didn’t know the true story of the trial and how unfairly he’s been treated. From that I went to Janet Malcolm’s book on it, The Journalist and the Murderer. And then I went to her book on psychoanalysis, which is what I’m reading right now. I’ve never read Fifty Shades of Grey and I never will.

Watch!: Hilarious. Why not?
David: I can barely stomach two shades of gray.

Watch!: Speaking of sex, Californication is packed to the gills with it. Are you ever gobsmacked by what you are doing onscreen?
David: I always think TV sex is ridiculous, and that’s the way I approach it within the scheme of the show. I see it as an aspect of the comedy, because nothing is funnier to look at than the physical act of sex.

Watch!: Nevertheless, back in the X-Files days you became a bit of a sex symbol when Mulder took a dip in a red Speedo. That kind of put you in the Pam Anderson/Farrah Fawcett pantheon.
David: Well, that’s what I’ve always aspired to. No, the thing with Mulder and Scully [his FBI partner, played by Gillian Anderson] was that you never saw any skin. I don’t even think you ever saw their wrists. So it was quite a shock to see that Mulder actually had a torso.

Watch!: I found an article with some beachside paparazzi pictures of you a few months before your 52nd birthday, headlined “The Truth is Out There—David Still Looks Good Shirtless at 51!” How do you respond to such objectification?
David: I say, “Thank you very much, keep it coming!” Listen, I’ve always been an athlete and it’s a matter of sanity for me to sweat and work out. And the byproduct is I get to stay in shape. So, yeah, objectify me all you want! I know I live inside my head and I have a reality that’s subjective, so somebody else’s objectification of me doesn’t affect me at all.

Watch!: Oooh, you’re so together, baby!
David: (Chuckles.) I hope you use that last quote. I felt like that was one of the smartest things I ever said in my whole life.

Brantley Bardin

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