With ‘The X-Files‘ due to kick off a new season this January, the show’s cast took time out of their busy schedules to head down to New York Comic Con last weekend. During the weekend, we had the chance to sit down with David Duchovny, who of course made a name for himself as Fox Mulder on the iconic and long-running sci-fi series. In the course of the conversation, Duchovny touched on everything from the appeal of his character to the sometimes uncomfortable realities of working on a show like ‘The X-Files’ in today’s political climate.
What can you share with us about the new season?
Well, the last time we did it we did six episodes, and the last time you would have seen our characters was a movie that was in 2008, so that was seven years. So we had a lot of exposition to cover. So that took two episodes. And at the end we had to wrap it up, that took an episode. So that left us with three episodes to do what we do, which is nothing, which is not enough. So now we’re doing ten. We do have some exposition to take care of, to get us out of the mess that we got ourselves into, but that’s dispensed with rather quickly, so that we can get into doing the show that we always did. Which was less kind of self consciously about the show itself, which is unfortunately what those episodes tend to be. Even if they’re interesting mythology, they’re kind of about the show.
Can you talk a bit about Mulder and Scully in the new season? What are you allowed to tell us?
Well, I don’t know what I’m allowed to tell… [laughs]
So what do you want to tell us?
It’s as it was. I think Chris was smart from the very beginning, in that you have a serialized television show that’s now had over two hundred episodes, and you’ve got to parcel out the goodies little by little. So as much as fans might think they want this or they want that, unfortunately once you cross the line it’s hard to go back over. So… I’m just being vague because I couldn’t tell you. I think what’s interesting about the relationship is their working partnership, and their reliance on one another. I think that’s what people like about the male/female partnership of Mulder and Scully. They may want a sex scene, but I guarantee you they don’t really, especially at the age we’re at now.
How do you and Gillian deal with the fact that people are invested in this couple? How does that inform the working relationship?
I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I have no interest in that personally. It has nothing to do with the way I approach my job. If I was to write one, I might think about the relationship. In fact, the ones that I have written, I feel like I’m comfortable kind of loosening them up outside of the work. But as an actor? If I start thinking about that kind of crap, then I’m lost. The last thing an actor should be thinking about is fan reaction… As an actor, you’re constantly guarding against any kind of self-consciousness. That’s the death of acting: somebody watching themselves. And if you start to think about people watching you, then that’s the back door into your own self-consciousness. So I’ll have to forget this conversation by the time I get back on set! [laughs]
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from Chris Carter that has helped you really understand this character over the years?
I don’t know, I’m kind of headstrong about it. You know, I do the lines as they’re written, but at some point, I decided that I knew who this guy was, you know, that this was my character and I owned it. And that could be to my detriment or the detriment of my work, I don’t know. But I think it in retrospect the characters that I’m attracted to playing seem to be people that speak the truth no matter what the consequences. And I feel like the first time I did that was really with Mulder. So I think that I learned something about what I’m drawn to as a performer. And to me, that was the inherent basis of the character, a guy who didn’t mind being a fool. And I think I can trace that back to Chris for sure in the pilot.
How do you think Mulder’s evolved over the years, how has he grown as a character?
I don’t know… I’d like to know what you think.
Well, given the current political climate and the growth of anti-science attitudes…
Yeah, I’d hate to think of him as anti-science.
No, Mulder’s not, but…
But he might be! He might be a little bit anti-science, you know? And he might be, a little bit, a guy that says “fake news” too. Which is… unsettling to me. So I think it’s interesting to think about him in this climate, and I think it’s interesting to think about the show in this climate. However, in terms of how a character evolves over the years, it’s an interesting question for an actor to approach. And I did it slightly with ‘Twin Peaks’, but that was more of a physical thing, like “Oh my god!”
If you had to give advice to the Mulder of the first season, what would it be?
Get comfortable shoes. It’s hard to run in dress shoes! You know, maybe Mulder has changed, but I was thinking about [the last question] and I was thinking about what drew me to him in the beginning. And I think it’s the same, which is there’s a certain kind of fearlessness to the guy. I mean I’ve always said that we have like two hundred and twelve episodes that we’ve done, and he’s solved this many cases: zero. So he’s the worst FBI agent of all time. Like if he was on ‘Law and Order’? There’d be no order. And so I feel like his resilience is great. I feel like the fact that he can still believe what he believes even though he’s never – NEVER – gotten the truth is kind of phenomenal when you think about it. Or sad. One or the other.
‘The X-Files’ will return for its ten episode eleventh season in January 2018. The upcoming season will see the established cast of David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Mitch Pileggi joined by a slate of guest stars including Annabeth Gish, William B. Davis, Robbie Amell, and Chris Owens, Karin Konoval, and Barbara Hershey. Until then, be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘The X-Files’ as it becomes available.