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It’s been eight years since David Duchovny last played Fox Mulder, the FBI agent whose dogged pursuit of the truth — about government conspiracies, the existence of aliens and the disappearance of his sister – fueled the cult series “The X-Files” for most of a decade.
But now that he’s back for the miniseries revival, which premieres Sunday on Fox, the actor admits that, under the right circumstances, he may be ready to continue that crusade on a regular basis.
During Fox’s press day for the Television Critics Association, Spinoff Online joined a small group of reporters who gathered to fire off questions to Duchovny about returning to his iconic role.
How did Mulder feel different this time around?
David Duchovny: Mulder was always like the engine of the show; he was the guy putting his foot on the gas. It was more familiar with me once Mulder got reinvested in the X-Files after the first episode. …That’s a Darin Morgan episode, and that’s always – there was a question about the tone shifting back and forth in these six, and it’s a very interesting thing because we always did it on the show.
It was really like doing a different show almost from week to week on “The X Files,” even back in the day. And it was very tricky as an actor to find the right tone all the time on this particular show. A thriller, a horror, a mystery, a quest, a comedy, but you’re right to point that out. It’s like, I was skeptical. I’m skeptical in the first episode, and then, I’m playing it again in a comedic way. So think about it as a gift to the actors, and a real challenge to try to play it in different keys, almost.
Having mentioned that you’ve settled into your appreciation for the role, do you now look forward to playing him more and more throughout your career?
Well, no, when I left the show and when we ended the show, the idea that I always talked about with Chris [Carter, the series’ creator] was to come back and do movies. And we did the second one in 2008, I think it was. And there just didn’t seem to be an appetite at Fox for the movie anymore, which surprises me because we’re a home-grown property. It’s not some crappy comic book that you’re going to dig up and breathe life into. So I’ve never understood. I think there’s probably more money in television, for them, so that’s probably why they want to do it.
When television kind of reinvented itself in terms of its seasonal quality and the amount of episodes it demands, it became obvious to all of us that we could come back and do it in a way that would suit us at this point in our lives. But as much as I would have wanted to get away from Mulder at a certain point, I always hoped and knew that if there was a demand, we’d be able to come back and kind of revisit from time to time, and this would be now.
Is this something you want to go back to as a series?
Not a full series, no, not every year. But I think we can do more than six; we can do eight or 10. But it depends on how it does. It depends on if people really want to see it. I feel that they do. I feel like it’s going to do really well. So I would bet that we would come back and do another iteration of it. I’m not sure how many, but it will never be 22 or 24 episodes again. We’re just too old, can’t work that hard.
Do you enjoy making the stand-alone episodes better than the mythology ones?
I don’t say I enjoy one more than the other. They have different challenges. It’s just that’s what keeps the show fresh for an actor. It’s a cop show; it’s an FBI show, but it’s not really a procedural in that way, where procedurals can get pretty dull for the actors. So aside from having an interesting relationship to play within the procedural, there’s also, as I said, these changes of tone, these changes of subject matter.
The frame of the show, itself, is incredibly flexible. I can’t think of any other show that had the same actors in it. You’ve got the “Twilight Zone,” that’s different actors. So when you think about it, it’s very challenging and interesting to an actor to have to go in and do one of Chris’ episodes, and then turn around and do one of Darin’s episodes. I think because it’s natural to us, just because we’ve been doing it for so long, it seems de rigueur, but it’s quite crazy when you think about it – and scary. Because I’d be in the middle of a Darin episode, and somebody described it as a sitcom, and it’s like, “Holy shit, what are we doing? Is this really working?” We don’t know. It’s a little trippy.
What do your children think of “The X-Files”?
They’ve seen some. My son has seen more than my daughter. They’re excited about it coming out. They’re very excited about it coming out. So I’m kind of happy – like the last, very visible thing that I would have done was “Californication,” there’s no way they’re going to watch that. So I’m happy that they’re going to get a chance to see it. They watched “Aquarius,” but this is kind of more up their alley.
Could you ever see someone else playing your role?
My role? I don’t know how you could.
“The X-Files” returns Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.