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David Duchovny: ĎIíve more self-doubt as an actor than as a writerí

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David Duchovny: ĎIíve more self-doubt as an actor than as a writerí

Post by sir on Sun 22 Feb - 2:18

David Duchovny: ĎIíve more self-doubt as an actor than as a writerí



David Duchovny is best known for his role as FBI agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files, and as dissolute writer Hank Moody in Californication. He has a BA in English literature from Princeton, where he wrote a dissertation on the early novels of Samuel Beckett, and an MA from Yale. He has now published a novel, Holy Cow, in which a cow called Elsie, a pig called Shalom and a turkey called Tom escape a farm in upstate New York in search of a better life.

How did you get the idea for Holy Cow?

I had an idle idea while driving one day that if I were a cow Iíd probably do my best to get to India. I thought that was funny. But then I thought: what else could happen? If I were a pig, Iíd try and get to a place where kosher laws were enforced and I wouldnít be eaten. AndÖ a turkey might think that Turkey would be safe. So then weíve got our threeÖ This sounded to me like it could be a kidsí movie, so I wrote up a treatment and pitched it as an animated film. But the story includes some Muslim-Jewish political discussion, some drug-taking, and the circumcision of a pig. They politely passed. So I shelved it until, a year and a half ago, I thought: why donít I write it up as a novel?

It seems to come with a message about how we treat farm animals, and perhaps that we eat too much meat.

Iím not a polemicist. Iím not a proselytiser for vegetarianism or climate change. I donít force my personal morality on others, and I donít like books that try to. To me, itís a work of entertainment first and foremost. A decent work of art raises more questions than it answers. If it answers questions, it becomes propaganda. The book really comes out of my earliest reading: I grew up on Aesopís FablesÖ the first stories I ever heard involved talking animals.

Which is harder, writing or acting?

I canít say that I enjoy writing; itís difficult. I would say I enjoy having written. But Iíve way more self-doubt as an actor Ė I come from more of a writing background than a performing background. My sense of myself from an early age was as an observer, a thinker. I didnít even see that many movies as a kid.

What about reviews? When you act, youíre part of a team; you can hide. But as a writer, your nameís the only one on the jacket.

I donít read any reviews of anything I do. I havenít for 10 years, and it has made life a lot better. So much criticism today is snarky and ad hominem. Iím of the school that says: judge the work, not who did it. Itís hard for actors; itís their body and face theyíre using. As a writer it should be easier, but I donít think it is. I didnít want to use a pseudonym: I want people to read the book, so why not use whatever celebrity I have to bring attention to it? But reading reviews is like finding your belovedís journal: the only reason youíre going to open it is because you want to hurt yourself.

You abandoned your PhD at YaleÖ what was it about?

The title of the dissertation that never will be was: Magic and technology in contemporary fiction and poetry. The writers I was going to discuss were James Merrill, Norman Mailer, Ishmael Reed, Robertson Davies, Thomas Pynchon. I didnít finish it because Iím a lazy piece of shit. I started acting, and once I left the halls of academia, it was hard to keep the focus on something so rarefied.

Did you regret giving it up?

I still have regrets; Iím a regretful person. Before I had any success as an actor, when I was receiving rejection after rejection, I thought: what the hell are you doing? You worked your ass off, you were at the best places, you were set up to have an interesting and nice life teaching and writing, and now youíre auditioning for a potato-chip commercial in your bathing suit.

Do you buy a lot of new books?

I order up to four every week. The last two I enjoyed were Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill, which I found to be devastatingly sad, and Outline by Rachel Cusk. She writes beautifully about things that are very difficult to write about.

Both those novels are about women who are getting older and feel invisible, a subject the movies donít ever touch on. This isnít a problem for men, is it? They just get (supposedly) more attractive, especially on screen, where their wives and girlfriends only get younger.

Well, thatís the cliche, and there is a standard that is kinder to men than to women. Thatís unfair, though I donít know how you legislate against it. But of course I worry about ageing. I donít want to get old. Iíd have a facelift if they ever workedÖ But it seems to me they donít look good.

Whatís coming up for you next?

Iím writing another novel, and I have an album coming out, Hell Or High Water. I also have a new show on NBC, Aquarius. Itís set in late-60s LA, and I play a homicide detective whoís watching the world change and isnít so happy about it. An old flame of mine calls me and says that her daughter has run off with this guy, Charles Manson. This is before that name rings anybodyís bell. So I get caught up in the counterculture, a world I donít understand, because I grew up in the 20s and 30s.

Why donít you come to London and do a play by your beloved Beckett?

[Laughs] Well, Gillian [Anderson, his X-Files co-star] has done so well in London. But sheís a proper actress. She studied; I taught myself on the job. Doing theatre wouldnít be a return to my roots ó that would be going back to grad school. I do love London, though. If you came to me with a brilliant play, I imagine Iíd try to do it.

There is still talk of a Mulder and Scully reunion. Arenít you done with The X-Files?

If youíd asked me this question 10 years ago, I would have said: yes, Iíve had enough. But at this point, itís almost like going out on a greatest hits tour. It would be a lark. And I think itís going to happen pretty soon.

The Guardian

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Re: David Duchovny: ĎIíve more self-doubt as an actor than as a writerí

Post by mulderandscully on Sun 22 Feb - 2:51

Thanks for posting this. It is a good interview. It gives some insight to David.
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Re: David Duchovny: ĎIíve more self-doubt as an actor than as a writerí

Post by jade1013 on Sun 22 Feb - 3:24


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Re: David Duchovny: ĎIíve more self-doubt as an actor than as a writerí

Post by cmacmd on Sun 22 Feb - 7:39

Thanks
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