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Moviefone: 'Phantom' Star David Duchovny Hates Unitards, Loves Authenticity (EXCLUSIVE)

Friday, March 1

In the new Cold War submarine thriller "Phantom," David Duchovny plays a special forces KGB agent whose mission aboard the sub captained by Ed Harris -- who's on his last command before retiring -- could start World War III.

Duchovny sat down with Moviefone to discuss tattoo confusion, his dislike of unitards, and forgetting the submarine-themed episode of "The X-Files" he shot back in the '90s.

Moviefone: I just saw Ed Harris in the hallway. I felt like I should salute.
David Duchovny: I feel the same way.

You punch Ed Harris in one scene. How many takes did you do of that?
I don't think I had to punch Ed too often. He got me back, he slams my head into the periscope and that was an actual hit.

I also got talking with naval expert Ken Sewell downstairs, who was the technical advisor on the film. He told me that one of the ideas you had for your character was to give him an eye patch.
Was I? I'm glad I didn't do that.

He said he'd told you, "No, as a commando you need depth perception." And he told me he came up with the idea for the wolf tattoo on your arm, which your co-star and producer Julian Adams showed me on his iPod.
It's a good tattoo. I believe one of the reasons that we wanted to take my shirt off was to show that damn tattoo. I liked it visually because it was so un-American. It was this Russian iconography with the wolf. It's the little things that turn us on as actors. But I thought the tattoo was my idea! I do believe that it was. Sorry, Ken Sewell. And I don't remember the eye patch. I think Ken Sewell was pulling your leg. It doesn't seem like an idea that I would have. But I'm really happy that we didn't do it, whatever it was.

Did you have any say in what your character wore?
No, wardrobe was authentic. I hated the fact that we're in this unitard. I understand that it's authentic, but we all kind of looked like goofballs. We looked like garage mechanics. But it's so dark in there, and you end up having to be so tight [with the camera framing], that you don't often see the full effect. So it's fun from here [indicates his waist] on up. But authenticity trumps whatever you want to do as an actor anyway, so it's nice to have it taken out of your hands.

How long were you in those unitards?
It was only a 20-day shoot, so 20 days in a unitard.

The alternate title: "20 Days in a Unitard."
[Laughs] That was the working title.

Ken was also saying...
What else was he saying? Ken is lying to you! What else? Go on.

He said he thought your character was like the commando John Clark in the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan novels. Had you read those books?

Are you a fan of any other submarine movies, like "The Hunt for Red October"? 

There was actually a submarine episode of "The X-Files."
I'll remember if you remind me.

It's from 1998, when Mulder meets what he thinks is his long-lost sister Samantha, but she ends up being one of many clones and there's the alien bounty hunter. And the sub ends up in stuck in ice.
Yeah, I think I end up on the conning tower, but I don't go inside the sub ever. I remember Rob Bowman directed it. I can see the stage, I can see the conning tower, but I don't think I was ever in the sub set, if they showed it. God, we were just a television show, how were we going to shoot a sub? I know we were big and important and spent a lot of money, but I don't know that we ever got to shoot a submarine.

The movie is rated R, which I hadn't realized. Do you feel that the ratings board was too tough on it?
There's a couple of punches, but yeah, the whole ratings thing is ridiculous to me. Jesus, the violence and stuff that my kids see, cartoons and things like that, is crazy. It's Holocaust stuff. This is a knife. [His character slits a man's throat] They got their own agenda.

"Phantom" hits theaters Friday, March 1.

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