September 03, 2007 12:00am
AS THE star and an executive producer of new comedy series Californication, David Duchovny says part of his job is making his array of female co-stars feel relaxed on the set.
Which is never easy, considering they spend an inordinate amount of time naked.
“I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure they are comfortable but, really, how can you be comfortable?'' Duchovny says. “It's a s------ situation to come into, so you just try to make it as choreographed and as not demeaning as possible.
“It's certainly not my intention to make a show that demeans women.''
Californication, which premiered last week with strong late-night figures against Seven's City Homicide and Nine's The King, stars Duchovny in a role that even his character in The X-Files, Fox “Spooky'' Mulder, might have found scary.
New Yorker Hank Moody has written the Great American Novel -- a celebrated best-seller titled God Hates Us All, signed a lucrative movie rights deal and moved with his wife, Karen (Natascha McElhone), and their 12-year-old daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin), to Los Angeles.
But when his book is turned into a romantic comedy called A Crazy Little Thing Called Love (the stars are referred to only as “Tom and Katie'') and he is ditched by Karen, writer's block sets in.
Hank soothes himself with a succession of meaningless affairs with a seemingly unlimited supply of available women, all the while trying to win back Karen and maintain a credible relationship with Becca.
According to Duchovny, the scripts by Tom Kapinos, a four-year veteran of Dawson's Creek, are “more like what independent cinema used to offer'' and certainly would not have been made by a US free-to-air network. Again it is US pay-TV -- in this case Showtime -- that is displaying a dash of daring along with all the flesh. And it is not only the women who get naked, either.
“It's my a--- up there, literally and figuratively,'' Duchovny says, laughing. “Stephen Hopkins, the director, said, `You're going to have to get naked or else it's going to look like we're just a show throwing naked women out there and that won't look good'.''
Apart from remaining comfortable with what he has to do at work each day and with whom he has to do it, Duchovny says the biggest challenge is trying to make the series look real.
“It is a comedy, but in the sense that it has to be in a real world that this guy is living in because if it's not it's a lot less funny,'' he says. “He's not even a guy who is on the make. He's more like the guy in (the 1975 Warren Beatty film) Shampoo -- sex is just coming at him all the time and he can't say no.
“This is not about a sex addict. What I thought was very interesting and very important in (last week's) pilot was that it's established that he was faithful to his wife during the whole marriage but she cheated on him.
“That kind of set him off on this path, so it's almost like it's out of heartbreak.
“That's much more interesting than saying the guy is clinically, obsessively driven to having sex.''
With Californication taking about three months to complete 12 episodes, Duchovny says he still has plenty of time to pursue other projects, including a new X-Files movie.
Duchovny and his co-star in that series, Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully), recently lunched with creator Chris Carter "just to make sure we're all on board at the same time".
He adds: "It was great. Chris picked up the check."