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Emmy Magazine Interview: "Ten Out of Ten"

David Duchovy by Bob Makela
When Tom Kapinos was contemplating whom to cast as troubled writer Hank Moody in his new Showtime comedy, Californication, David Duchovny seemed like the ultimate longshot. The former X-Files star had made it known he wasn't interested in starring in another series. So Kapinos was thrilled to hear that the actor-writer-producer-director, whom he considered a kindred spirit, had not only read the pilot script but wanted to meet to discuss the project.

Their ensuing lunch was "both awesome and terrible," Kapinos says. "I came away realizing that [David] was a better Hank than I could have ever hoped for and how awful it would be if he walked away."

Duchovny didn't walk away. Instead, the erudite New York native warmed to the idea of a twelve-episode cable season, a crucial selling point for the married dad.

More than anything, though, Duchovny - a Malibu resident with his wife, actress, Tea Leoni, and their two kids - was intrigued by Moody.
As imagined by creator-executive producer Kapinos, he is an acerbic New Yorker who moves to LA after his gritty novel is turned into a sanitized blockbuster movie, kick-starting a debauched dance with writer's block, womanizing, drinking and recreational drugging. All the while, he alienates everyone who crosses his path, including the ex-girlfriend he still pines for and the daughter he adores.

Duchovny says he was drawn to the challenge of finding the moral core in a seemingly amoral lothario - despite Leoni's reservations. "Her hesitation wasn't so much [whether I was] going to be in close proximity of scantily clothed women," he recalls. "It was more like, 'How's this guy going to come across as somebody you want to root for?'

"And I said, 'Well, that's my job, and I think I have an idea.'

"She said, 'Well, if you think you can, then do it. I don't think I could."

Duchovny's intrinsic likeability and Kapinos' nuanced writing have more than pulled it off. The series - which Duchovny - likens to a ''70s-style adult-comedy" - has had to overcome initial perceptions that it was predominantly about a guy hooking up with a parade of willing, usually naked, women. But, for its star, the show is really about "its intelligence, its humor and its heart."

Duchovny himself has long been noted for his intelligence and humor. Growing up in Manhattan, he went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Princeton and a master's degree from Yale, where he began work on a PhD in English literature.

By his mid-twenties, he was hit with the acting bug. One of his earliest roles was in an "off-off-off-off-off-off-off Broadway" production of a Charles Bukowski short story, "The Copulating Mermaid of Venice, California," which Duchovny adapted into a one-act play.

Years later, Duchovny became a household name, thanks to The X-Files and memorable cameos on The Larry Sanders Show. But he followed up his nearly decade-long stint on the sci-fi classic with a number of movies - Evolution, The TV Set, Trust the Man - that failed to connect with audiences and critics. He wrote, directed and starred in the film House of D, which also failed to match his television acclaim.

Despite the kudos he's racked up recently for Californication, he feels no vindication or renewed confidence, copping instead to a healthy dose of self-doubt. "It's just my nature," he says. "You're an idiot if you're not riddled with self-doubt at all times - even when you're having success after success. I think self-doubt is healthy as long as it's not crippling."

Which works just fine for Kapinos. "I'm biased, of course," he says. "But David Duchovny is quietly giving the best performance on TV right now. He continues to blow my mind."

Source: Emmy Magazine

Thanks to Alfornos for the transcript!

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