Thursday, May 14

Interview: David Duchovny on the Climate Crisis, the Drawbacks of Technology, and the Craft of Writing

This is an extensive interview David Duchovny did for - you can find the full audio below or read the transcript. 

David Duchovny may be swooned over as the hunky special agent Fox William Mulder in The X-Files and Hank Moody in Californication, but it should be noted—and, in our opinion, more widely known—that he is also an accomplished novelist. Yes, novelist. In fact, he has published three novels with the highly esteemed publisher Farrar, Straus, and Giroux since 2015. A fourth novel, called Truly Like Lightning and publicly revealed for the first time on this episode, is in the works.

Primarily known for his acting—which also includes a well-known, ahead-of-its-time role, in the early ’90s, as the trans FBI agent Denise Bryson on Twin Peaks—Duchovny has carved out a name for himself as a screenwriter, director, producer, and musician, too. With an extensive literary pedigree—his father, Amram, was a “closet” writer until late in his life, when he published the novel Coney—Duchovny graduated with a B.A. in English from Princeton in 1982 and began (though never finished) a comparative literature Ph.D. at Yale.

His mastery across both dramatic and comedic acting, as well as his prolificity in writing and music, is impressive in its breadth and wide-ranging in its subject matter. Less than a decade ago, Duchovny began singing and playing guitar, and in 2015, nearly 30 years into his film and television career, he released his first album, Hell or Highwater. That same year, he also published his first novel, Holy Cow. Since then, he has released a second album, Every Third Thought (2018), and published two more books, Bucky F*cking Dent (2016) and Miss Subways (2018). Now, at age 59, Duchovny’s creative energy continues apace across all these mediums—acting, writing, music—with his next novel soon to come out and plans to turn Bucky F*cking Dent into a film.

On this episode of Time Sensitive, Duchovny speaks with Spencer Bailey about novel writing, the need to better understand proposed solutions for the climate crisis, his role as Denise in Twin Peaks, and the various twists and turns of his multifaceted life and career.


I. Tech Ventures (17 minutes)
Duchovny looks back his Princeton and Yale theses, the latter of which was about the link between magic and technology in contemporary fiction. The conversation turns to personal technology, specifically the Sony Walkman, as well as electric vehicles and the climate crisis.

II. Childhood Memories (11 minutes)
Duchovny recalls his upbringing in New York City as the son of a writer and activist father and schoolteacher mother, sharing he early interests in books, storytelling, and literature.

III. Novel Desires (15 minutes)
Duchovny discusses his craft as a novelist, the making of his three books—Holy Cow (2015), Bucky F*cking Dent (2016), and Miss Subways (2018)—and a bit about his forthcoming novel, Truly Like Lightning.

IV. Write, Camera, Action (7 minutes)

Duchovny and Bailey get into his acting career, which frequently has included roles as a writer, from his first acting job ever, in 1989’s New Year’s Day, to the more recent Hank Moody character in the Showtime series Californication.

V. X-Files Marks the Spot (9 minutes)

Duchovny speaks about his role as special agent Fox William Mulder in the 1990s sci-fi hit The X-Files—a pivotal part of his acting career that changed the course of his life forever.

VI. Trauma Recovery (7 minutes)
Duchovny opens up about how he dealt with his daughter West’s childhood illness, from which she recovered, as well as the deaths of two close acting friends, Robin Williams and Anton Yelchin, both of whom were in his 2004 film House of D.

This interview was recorded in The Slowdown’s New York City studio on July 30, 2019.


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