David Duchovny: Ivy League, Personal Struggles, X-Files, And More

David Duchovny is one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood. The actor’s extensive film career is only overshadowed by his iconic television roles in The X-Files and Californication.

An Ivy League Graduate

An Ivy League Graduate

The New York native and the son of immigrants spent most of his early life developing his education and became an Ivy League graduate of Princeton University before he started to focus his path on acting. Duchovny is now an accomplished author, having publishing two novels since 2015. His music career is just beginning and he is currently on tour promoting his debut solo album. And of course, he went on to become an actor, writer, producer, director, novelist, and singer-songwriter.

A Young David Duchovny

David William Duchovny was born in New York, New York on August 7, 1960. He is the son of immigrants Margaret, a Scottish-born teacher and school administrator, and Amram Duchovny, writer and publicist for the American Jewish Committee.

A Young David Duchovny

After enlisting in the Army his father got rid of the “h” in his last name in order to prevent the mispronunciation of his name. His parents divorced when he was only 11-years-old, and he and his older brother and younger sister lived with their mother. Duchovny says his parent’s divorce inspired him to overachieve in his studies.

David Duchovny’s Collegiate Years

Young David attended Grace Church School and The Collegiate School For Boys in New York City. Unlike his classmates, David worked hard as a bicycle delivery boy and lifeguard and graduated as valedictorian.

David Duchovny’s Collegiate Years

His overzealous work and study habits paid off when he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the prestigious Princeton University in 1982, earning an A.B. in English literature. He also played junior varsity basketball. During his senior year, David’s poetry received an honorable mention by the Academy of American poets, and he wrote his senior thesis entitled The Schizophrenic Critique of Pure Reason in Beckett’s Early Novels.

The Start of Duchovny’s Acting Career

Duchovny went on to earn his Master of Arts in English literature from Yale University and began his Ph.D, where his uncompleted doctoral thesis was Magic and Technology in Contemporary Fiction and Poetry.

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During his dissertation at Yale, David began acting in Broadway plays and disappointed his mother by quitting his Ph.D. program to focus on acting. His onscreen appearances began in 1987 with an advertisement for Löwenbräu beer, a company that was founded in 1383 and, a year later, he appeared in two scenes in the 1988 classic film Working Girl, starring Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford.

Twin Peaks & Red Shoe Diaries

The role led to his appearance in the 1989 art film New Year’s Day before he decided to leave New York and move to Los Angeles to pursue his acting on the west coast. The move proved successful and the early 1990s became a breakout period for the young actor.

Twin Peaks & Red Shoe Diaries

After a very brief, yet memorable, role as a transvestite DEA agent on the television drama Twin Peaks, Duchovny’s voice appeared as a regular narrator on the Showtime erotic series Red Shoe Diaries. The sky was the limit and the actor began his quest to become one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood.

David’s Breakout Film Roles

In addition to the growing list of TV gigs, Duchovny broke out onto the silver screen by appearing in The Rapture and Julia Has Two Lovers in 1991. In 1992, he played the part of Rollie Totheroh in the biopic Chaplin, Ruby, Venice/Venice, and played a light-antagonist role of “Brad” in the children’s canine classic about the crime-fighting St. Bernard, Beethoven, starring Charles Grodin.

David’s Breakout Film Roles

He really earned his acting stripes when he starred alongside Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis in the 1993 thriller Kalifornia. Not long after, David Duchovny became a household name to science-fiction nerds everywhere.

The Birth of Agent Fox Mulder

In 1993, Duchovny landed the role of Agent Fox Mulder in the Fox Network’s first major television series (and a show he believed wouldn’t be on the air for very long), The X-Files alongside his onscreen partner, Gillian Anderson. The show instantly became a hit among geeks, nerds, and fans of the paranormal.

The Birth of Agent Fox Mulder

Chris Carter, the show’s creator, admitted that Duchovny was one of the best-read people he’s met, and Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz called him “amazingly smart,” having developed many of the well-known facets of the character. He only appeared in half of season eight of the series and returned for the series finale in 2002.

Agent Mulder’s Guest Appearances

Duchovny made a string of guest appearances during his time playing Agent Mulder. He provided the voice for a character based on himself during an episode of The Simpsons, and showed up a few times on the parody series The Larry Sanders Show performing his own rendition Sharon Stone’s flashing scene from Basic Instinct as well as Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s famous scene meeting Agent Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs.

Agent Mulder’s Guest Appearances

Other notable guest appearances include two Saturday Night Live episodes, Ben Stiller’s Zoolander, and opportunities to show off his intellect during a celebrity edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in 2000 and Celebrity Jeopardy! in 1995 and 2010.

The Older Mulder

From 1995 through 2000, Duchovny was recognized on multiple occasions for his role as Agent Mulder. He was nominated for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama with Viewers for Quality Television and won Best Actor in a TV Series for Sci-Fi Universe in 1995.

The Older Mulder

In 1996, the X-Files actor was nominated for his performance with a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award and earned the title of Most Popular Actor by the National TV Awards. By 1997, David Duchovny was a force to be reckoned with when it came to national and international recognition.

David’s X-Files Awards

The year 1997 saw Duchovny nominated for seven television awards including nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award, a Saturn Award, two Screen Actors Guild awards, and a nod from the Television Critic Association. He wound up winning the Swedish Aftonbladet TV Prize for Best Foreign Personality, and a Golden Globe and Satellite Award for Best Actor.

David’s X-Files Awards

The recognition continued into 1998 with more nominations for a Golden Globe, a Primetime Emmy, a Sattelite Award, a Saturn Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. This year he did not go home with any of the prestigious awards but continued with his successful career.

Duchovny’s Marriage To Téa Leoni

On May 13, 1997, Duchovny married actress Téa Leoni after dating for only three months. Leoni is best known for her roles in Bad Boys, Deep Impact, The Family Man, Jurassic Park III, and Fun With Dick and Jane. The couple had two children together; a daughter, Madelaine West Duchovny, in 1999, and a son, Kyd Miller Duchovny, in 2002.

Duchovny’s Marriage To Téa Leoni

In 2008, Duchovny confessed to being a sex addict and checked himself into a rehabilitation center for his affliction. Leoni announced the couple had been separated for several months and a rumor began to spread about an affair she had with actor Billy Bob Thornton.

Duchovny’s Alleged Affair

A week later, Duchovny’s lawyer Larry Stein announced their plans to sue the British periodical Daily Mail for a story about an alleged affair with his Hungarian tennis instructor Edit Pakay.

Duchovny’s Alleged Affair

Stein released a signed declaration from Pakay that stated, “We have never had, and do not have a romantic or sexual relationship. I do not have romantic feelings toward him and, based on our interactions, I believe that David Duchovny does not have romantic feelings toward me.” After the two ensured they were “just friends,” the paper retracted their story and avoided a long and drawn-out legal proceeding.

David’s Cameos And Films

At around the turn of the century, David Duchovny made more guest appearances on the television shows Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man, Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, The Lone Gunmen, Primetime Glick, Life With Bonnie, and Sex and the City.

David’s Cameos And Films

His film roles, in addition to Zoolander and the comedy Evolution with Sean William Scott, included Full Frontal, Connie and Carla, House of D, Trust the Man, Queer Duck: the Movie, and The TV Set. Throughout 2007, he was in Things We Lost in the Fire, The Secret, and Quantum Hoops and in 2008 he reprised his role as Agent Fox Mulder in the film The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

Video Game Appearances

David Duchovny’s career and acting range are not limited to his appearances in television and feature films. He also served as a voice actor in various video games. Some of his voiceover credits include a reprisal of his role as Agent Mulder in The X-Files Game from 1998, as well as the protagonist Jason Fly in XIII in 2003.

Video Game Appearances

He returned again as Agent Mulder in The X-Files: Resist or Serve in 2004, played Ethan Cole in the 2005 game Area 51, and also appeared in the world renowned best-selling game Call of Duty: Black Ops III in 2015 as the voice of Echo Squad Walter.

Dream Of Californication

On August 13, 2007, David Duchovny returned as a lead television actor for the Showtime series Californication playing the character Hank Moody. The show is about a perturbed novelist who makes his way to California and begins to suffer a troubling stint of writer’s block and falls into drinking, drug use, and less-than-stellar sexual relationships.

Dream Of Californication

The show won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award. Duchovny went home with a Golden Globe in 2008 and was nominated again in 2009, 2010, and 2012. He was also given a nod in 2009 by the Screen Actors Guild. The show ended its run in 2014.

David’s Divorce Is Final

Duchovny reunited with ex-wife Téa Leoni again and tried to make things work, considering they have two children together. The reconnection did not last long, and the couple separated once more on June 29, 2011, for unknown reasons.

David’s Divorce Is Final

Even though they were separated, in 2012 Duchovny clarified the couple was still officially married. Two years later they filed for divorce, which was finalized in June 2014. This time, the separation appears to be permanent, and Leoni went on to star in her own hit series Madam Secretary where she began to date her co-star, and on-screen husband, Tim Daly.

David Duchovny in Phantom

In 2013, he starred alongside Ed Harris and William Fichtner in the film Phantom, loosely based on true events about a Cold War Russian captain and the sinking of the submarine K-129 in 1968 written and directed by Todd Robinson.

David Duchovny in Phantom

In an interview about the movie, Duchovny relates to his family stating, “They’re Russian Jews. I don’t think we come from KGB stock. Probably came from the other side of the fence. If my father was alive, I’m sure he’d get a kick out of it, the fact that part of his DNA is playing a KGB officer.”

David Duchovny’s First Novel

David Duchovny wrote and published his first novel, Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale, in 2015. The story follows Elsie Bovary, the narrator who is a cow that spends her time lazily lounging around the farm with her best friend Mallory. The two discover that their farm is used for producing meat and embark on a journey of self-discovery.

David Duchovny’s First Novel

The story is a tribute to Duchovny’s former life as a vegetarian who has converted to become a pescatarian, a common alternative, and now he eats fish. The book received mostly positive reviews that state it’s a “subtle allegory about, among other things, the terrible ways humans treat our fellow animals.”

David’s Music Career

On May 12, 2015, Duchovny released his debut music album entitled Hell or Highwater on Thinksay Records. The actor provided the vocals along with music from his backing band, Weather, made up of Berklee-trained musicians. The album was produced by one of the members, Colin Lee.

David’s Music Career

Consequence of Sound’s Dan Caffrey reviewed the record and summarized, “You have to emulate before you can innovate, and as Duchovny continues to hone his musical chops, perhaps he’ll transform the sounds of his heroes into something that’s distinctly his own.” New York Daily News also wrote that it was a “credible rock record.”

The Return of The X-Files

Sci-fi nerds rejoiced when it was announced creator Chris Carter was bringing back The X-Files in January 2016, marking the reunion of Agents Mulder and Scully. The story takes place fourteen years after the events of season nine.

The Return of The X-Files

David Duchovny said, “I would be open to doing another cycle. I don’t know that I could do a 20-episode version of this show at this point in my life, and I don’t know that Gillian could. But I think everybody is open ended on what happens after this. Certainly, we didn’t bring it back with the idea of ending it.” There is speculation of The X-Files returning for season 11 during the 2017-18 television cycle.

David’s Second Novel

Duchovny continued his career upswing by releasing his second novel, Bucky [Expletive] Dent, on April 5, 2016. The book tells the story of Ted Fullilove, an Ivy League graduate who is working on his own next great American novel during the years of Jimmy Carter’s presidency while working as a peanut seller in Yankee Stadium. The themes explore the bonds between fathers and sons as well as the animosity between New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans.

David’s Second Novel

The book received mostly positive reviews, with one reviewer calling the novel “incredibly honest, painful, hilarious, shocking and beautiful, filled with a love for language and words, poetry, and human nature – the little quirks about people that make life, and inevitably this book so very fascinating & interesting; by delving into topics such as illness, death, family, forgiveness, sex and yes, Baseball.”