Television’s odd couple are back with a new film. X-Files star David Duchovny reveals why Mulder and Scully weren’t done investigating.
When Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd finally got it together as David and Maddy on 80s private eye caper Moonlighting, it killed the show faster than John McClane took down the precisely accented terrorists in the Nakatomi Plaza.
But when FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully finally locked lips in the X-Files to celebrate the new Millennium after more than six seasons of foreplay, there was enough unresolved romantic tension to see them through another three years. There were also aliens still to be encountered, conspiracy theories to be debunked (or not) and natural or scientific anomalies to be explored.
So confident is the series creator Chris Carter, that even six years after the show ended the audience is still out there for more of the same, he has brought the dynamic duo of Believer boy and Sceptic girl back for a second film,.
David Duchovny said that far from being worried about type-casting he looked forward to the reunion.
“I gave up worrying about it once I realized it happens across the board. Comedy actors get trapped in there.
“What overcomes it is my love for the show and belief in its legitimacy as an interesting movie franchise.
“We’ve been doing other things, both professionally and personally, it felt like good timing. ”
Duchovny, of course, stepped away after series seven, pleading exhaustion – his place taken by Terminator 2’s Robert Patrick as the dogged John Doggett – although he returned periodically and for the two-part finale of series nine.
“I had to leave because of the time commitment. It was never ‘God I hate the show. I can’t stand working with these people’. It was always a case of ‘Let’s stop because we are all tired. We’ve all worked longer than anybody’s ever worked on a drama with the same two people’.
“Towards the end I didn’t really want to be there. I was miserable.”
Both Duchovny and Anderson have been refreshed by successful ventures into other acting avenues. Anderson who lived in London from the age of two until she was 11, dusted off her British accent to give superlative performances in the period pieces House of Mirth and Bleak House.
Duchovny earned a Golden Globe last year for his role as a blocked novelist with an over-active sex life in Californication.
They have also been busy raising families. Duchovny, 47, has two children, Madelaine and Kyd, with his wife, actress Tea Leoni. Anderson, 39, is pregnant with her third child, her second with her partner Mark Griffiths. They have a son, Oscar, and Anderson has a daughter, Piper Maru, by her first husband Clyde Klotz.
The test for the new film will be in seeing whether audiences have similarly tired of the spooky goings-on, their attention distracted by other labyrinthine plotted cult hits about the unexplainable, such as Lost or Heroes.
“I would think if they fell in love with the show for the premise and characters, the execution and the writing – well that is what we are back to,” says Duchovny confidently.
“There is a real feeling that we don’t want to cash in on the past, we all want to do something new and make it good. We don’t want to throw a piece of crap out there and have people go look at it for nostalgia’s sake.”
X Files: I Want to Believe is a reflection on the power of faith, redemption and the lengths people go to for love.
While the first X-files movie, Fight the Future, dealt with the long-running alien story line, this is more of a stand-alone thriller. Familiarity with the cult show’s mythology is helpful but not essential.
“I think the movie is much more accessible to the non-fans in terms of story, plot and everything else. It is pretty dark and there is some nasty stuff going on,” says Duchovny.
It stars Billy Connolly as a disgraced priest who is receiving visions about the location of a missing female FBI agent. He leads the manhunt to a snowy spot where they dig up a man’s severed arm. At which point the G-men decide they need to call in the X-perts.
“He (Billy) was a terrific guy,” Duchovny enthuses about the Scottish comedian. “He’s just a great person to be around and always energetic and funny off set. I can’t understand a word he is saying but he seems to be very nice.”
This in spite of Duchovny’s own Celtic roots. At the Scottish premiere of Return to Me he wore the McFarlane tartan in honour of the fact his mum was born in Aberdeen.
Questions about the “are they or aren’t they” status of Mulder and Scully’s relationship are answered in the movie after the end of the TV series saw them together but on the run from the FBI.
Scully is working as a doctor in a Catholic hospital whereas Mulder seems to have recreated his old basement office in the isolated house he is hiding in, compete with walls of weird newspaper clippings, a ceiling full of pencils and bowls of sunflower seeds.
“The themes are the same as the show always was, you have got belief and faith and the relationship between Mulder and Scully, how that’s developed over four or five years,” says Duchovny. “They’ve not been stuck in time, they’ve moved on in some fictional realm, just as we all have and yet their issues remain the same.
“Circumstance might have changed, however, the couple’s characters essentially remain the same.
“I always liked that he (Fox) was so narrow minded in his pursuit and I think that is attractive. I think that people respect that.
“He is a quest hero and that is not something we get to do in real life, and he is never a drag, which that kind of character could easily be.
“I think his dry sense of humour is an essential part of him.”
* The X Files: I Want to Believe is in cinemas now