Before Will Smith donned a nice suit as a government agent in Men and Black and said, “I make this look good,” David Duchovny was rocking a blazer and tie like no one’s business, tackling little green men with charisma, charm, and intelligence, and all without hamming it up like Big Will.
His nonchalant voice oozed cool and Duchovny quickly became one of TV’s biggest stars, so big that he had to leave the TV show where he made his name. Now, 13 years after that series, The X-Files, ended, Duchovny is set to don a suit once again and reprise his role as Agent Fox Mulder in a limited, six-episode return of the show.
With Duchovny back in the spotlight and on our minds, we decided to take a look at the actor’s best roles. The list may not be overwhelming, but chalk that up to Duchovny’s casual demeanor. He doesn’t need to hog the spotlight to remind everyone of his incredible talents.
One third of a powerhouse team that included co-star Gillian Anderson and visionary creator Chris Carter, Duchovny’s portrayal of F.B.I. Agent Fox “Spooky” Mulder anchored the whole series. The true believer that balanced Anderson’s Agent Scully, the skeptic, Duchovny brings an intensity to the role that made you want to believe there was intelligent life out there somewhere.
Creator Chris Carter has said that Duchovny is one of the best read people that he knows, and executive producer Frank Spotnitz has said that Duchovny added intelligence to the role and came up with many of Mulder’s characteristics himself. At one point, Fox Mulder made Duchovny one of the most famous men on the planet.
As bad boy novelist Hank Moody, Duchovny boozed and bedded half of L.A. relying on a quick wit, a god given gift to talk to woman, and those sad puppy dog eyes. The sex-crazed Californication harkened back to when Duchovny did The Red Shoes Diaries (which we’re coming to shortly), and his natural cool seemed like a perfect fit for the rock star author Hank Moody.
Even when Moody is cheating on his soulmate, disappointing his daughter, or getting in trouble with the law, you can’t help but root for the charming rapscallion, sort of like a modern Don Draper in a black t-shirt and leather jacket. Duchovny really flexed his comedy muscles, making this his most memorable role since The X-Files.
Dr. Ira Kane
Duchovny just couldn’t stay away from aliens. This criminally underrated comedy from Ivan Reitman is essentially Ghostbusters with extraterrestrials, and even though it’s not all-around great, it’s still worth a watch for Duchovny’s solid comedic performance, leading a great ensemble featuring Sean William Scott, Julianne Moore, and Orlando Jones. The movie was successful enough at the time to spawn a cartoon spin-off, but the movie has been forgotten, which is a shame, because it’s a fun flick with some solid jokes and gross-out humor.
Red Shoe Diaries
Kudos to Mr. Duchovny for never trying to downplay his involvement in Zalman King’s enduringly popular Showtime softcore TV series. And while, as Jake Winters, he was never in, ahem, ‘the thick of the action’, it’s a show he was working on for a good few years after the first X-Files was shown, and his sober, signature voice added a little gravitas to the skin series.
It’s a troubled film, granted, but the 1993 Brad Pitt/Juliette Lewis starrer also squeezed in a meaty role for a younger Duchovny, who at this point was just on the cusp of taking on the X-Files. He plays a man researching serial killers, flexing the curiosity and drive he’d later use on the iconic series. Kessler soon finds out all he needs to know about psycho killers. Worth checking out, if only to see him out-do mega-celebrity Brad Pitt.
And as an added bonus…
Duchovny is a hilarious scene-stealer in a movie that is completely full of them. The cult comedy featured Duchovny as reclusive hand model, or “finger jockey,” J.P. Prewitt, the man who reveals to Derek who’s really “pulling the sweater.” Who better to play a raving conspiracy theorist than Fox Mulder? It’s a bit of perfect casting and an absolutely perfect cameo. Here’s to hoping he pops up in the sequel, that is if he survived that gun shot and the exposing of his precious, money-making hand.
Special thanks to Simon Brew for the original artricle.