During one of the star’s classic guest appearances as himself on The Larry Sanders Show, Larry’s gay assistant estimates his friends’ opinion of David Duchovny: “A third think he’s gay, a third think he’s bi, and the rest don’t care — they just want to kiss him anyways.” Is that a fair representation of his entire gay fan base? “On my best day, that would be nice,” admits Duchovny, now revisiting his Golden Globe-winning role as FBI agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the second film adaptation of the long-running sci-fi series. But how does the 47-year-old father of two and star of Showtime’s Californication really feel about gay rumors, male nudity, and queer extraterrestrials? The truth is in here.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: Do you think there’s gay life out there in the universe? I want to believe.
David Duchovny: Yeah, if there’s life, there’s gay life, right? Ten percent of it.
I hope they have more rights than Earth gays.
I agree. I heard the Martian Stonewall was a big event — changed things forever.
Have you read any of the erotic gay fan fiction involving Fox Mulder and his X-Files nemesis Alex Krycek?
I never read it, but Nick Lea, who played Krycek, showed me this website with head-replacement pictures of him and me in various homosexual acts, looking at each other adoringly. We enjoyed that.
In Californication your womanizing novelist character, Hank, lives in Los Angeles and works in the entertainment industry, yet there are no gay characters. What’s the deal?
That is quite unrealistic, and I hope to address that in the near future, and I apologize to my big gay following. It’s funny because when we were casting the pilot, and even when we shot the pilot — though we never told the actor — the idea was always that Evan Handler’s character, my agent, was gay. But that never came to pass. Actually, he became more of a player than my character.
That sure would’ve spiced up the threesome Hank had with his agent.
Yeah, that would’ve made the squirting more believable.
Hank says he used to live in New York’s West Village “amongst the gays,” so I’d be surprised if he’s never jumped the fence.
Well, Hank is a very passive sexual partner. He’s like a boy who can’t say no, so I could certainly see that. That was one of my favorite lines — I love saying “amongst the gays.”
You’re currently shooting the second season, so I assume you’re in full “I’m constantly in just my underwear on-screen” workout mode.
Yes, I’m very much like a gay man right now. A friend of mine used to say that he could never be gay because he could never get into that kind of shape.
Are you going the Full Monty this season?
No. There’s just something about full frontal male nudity that always comes off as ridiculous and silly to me. It’s not really necessary.
There are, however, pictures circulating online of you wearing nothing but a teacup.
Those are old pictures. It was right when I was starting The X-Files, and I was doing a photo shoot at my manager’s house. I was just goofing around with the cups, and we took some pictures for ourselves as a joke. Then my quote-unquote publicist at the time started selling them three years later, so that was unfortunate.
You regret taking the shots?
No, I regret hiring him as a publicist.
What inspired the homosexual vibe you gave off on The Larry Sanders Show?
It was before this whole man-crush thing became played out — the “bromance” and all that stuff. I had done one Larry Sanders and Larry and I had become friends, and we were thinking about what I could do next on the show. I said, “Why don’t I have a crush on you, but I’m not gay, and it’s funny because it doesn’t bother me — I just say it.” And he said, “That is funny.” So we ran with it.
Do you have man crushes — other than Depp or Clooney?
I don’t have a crush on either one of them. They’re usually not actors; they’re usually intellectual types, where I want to follow them, or I want them to teach me. I’ve got a student-teacher man crush.
Have you been hit on by guys?
I grew up in the East Village and lived amongst the gays, so that kind of shit happens, and it’s no big deal.
Have you ever been annoyed by gay rumors about yourself?
I didn’t know I had a gay rumor! It wouldn’t annoy me at all. I imagine if I were gay and wanted to hide it, it would annoy me. I find I only get annoyed at the things that are true, so that’s a telltale sign.
Responding to an assumption that he isn’t into girls, your transvestite Twin Peaks character, DEA agent Denise Bryson, says, “I may be wearing a dress, but I still pull my panties on one leg at a time.” How did you make sense of a “straight” character that dressed as a woman?
I really didn’t think about it in terms of sexuality because it didn’t seem like that was the point. I thought, What is it in a woman that a man would want to be? There’s a certain kind of expressiveness that’s allowed women in society, whereas men are traditionally closed off and shut down, so I thought, Well, that’s probably what it is — he just wants to be expressive. That’s the only way I went at it.
In 2004’s Connie and Carla, does your character fall in love with Nia Vardalos’s Connie while he still thinks she’s a man in drag?
It’s a good question, and that’s a problem I had with the movie: I felt that that was an interesting relationship that wasn’t really developed, so anything we talk about isn’t really in the movie. But I think it’s really interesting, like in Some Like It Hot or in the Shakespeare plays, when men fall in love with women dressed as men. It’s a very emotionally intelligent way to address why it is that people fall in love, with gender or across gender.
Your character also has a lovely relationship with his drag queen brother. Have you ever dealt with a friend or loved one’s coming-out?
I had a friend come out in college, and I didn’t handle it great because I’d just always assumed he was gay. So when he came out, I guess I wasn’t surprised enough or didn’t think it was amazing enough. It was always obvious to me!
During interviews for that film, you often expressed your hatred for musical theater. That’s no way to charm gay fans, David.
I understand that, but I just don’t want you to feel like I’m kissing ass. I want to always tell the truth to my big gay following. But I do like Jesus Christ Superstar — that’s as far as I’ll go.
Do you compensate with other gay-friendly interests? I did spot you in the American Idol audience this past season.
[Laughs] Is that gay? I took my kids! That’s a better question for my wife. I’d love to know what she thinks I do that’s gay.
When presenting at October’s Outfest Legacy Awards, which you attended with your 8-year-old daughter, Madelaine, you made a comment about covering her eyes before a gay Showtime clip package that TMZ.com referred to as a “gay gaffe” yet others dismissed as a poorly delivered joke.
I wasn’t telling it as a joke; I was saying it very seriously. I brought my daughter to the event because I wanted her to meet people and be amongst the gays, but I didn’t want her to see the kind of hard-R sexuality that Showtime has in its clip package. So when I realized the clip package was going to play and I wasn’t sitting next to my daughter, I said, “Please cover her eyes.” I would’ve covered her eyes for gay sexuality, heterosexuality, and violence. I never deliver a joke badly; if I were making a joke, it would’ve landed!
Did you discuss the “gay birds and the bees” with her before the event?
I had a “gay birds and the bees” conversation with her when we watched Rent together. She saw the two girls that have the love affair, and I said to her, “See, what’s going on there is those two girls want to be married. They want to be like mom and dad. Some boys want to be with boys, and some girls want to be with girls. What do you think of that?” She said, “I don’t care.” I said, “I think that’s beautiful. I hope you always don’t care.”
What’s going on with the gay senior citizen film you’re developing with Chad Allen?
That’s been in the works for a long time. We have it over at a gay production company that doesn’t have a hell of a lot of money, and it’s a hard movie to make, but it’s a worthwhile idea.
Did you resent getting upstaged by copresenter Jennifer Lopez’s infamous bosom-baring green dress at the 2000 Grammys?
Never! I actually came in third because her bosom was first and her ass was second. It was a pleasure to be upstaged by J. Lo’s anatomy.
The Advocate, July 2008; extended online version.