How David Duchovny Keeps His Distance While Playing David Duchovny

Audiences have been enamored by celebrities since the earliest days of show business. Over the years, red carpet events like the Met Gala exist purely to celebrate the personality and popularity of famous Hollywood A-listers. Some celebs were born for the hot white gleam of the spotlight, and bask in all the attention, while others shy away from it and focus on their craft.

Superstars like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor struggled to have a private life throughout their careers. Monroe publicly admitted that she was expected to be a fantasy and that she never felt accepted for who she truly was, and Taylor was constantly criticized by the media and the public for her choice in love. The pressures of celebrity are most often associated with women, but famous men have their own crosses to bear.

Back in 2008, David Duchovny made headlines when he separated from his wife, Tea Leoni, and voluntarily entered rehab for sex addiction. In the past, celebrities would escape negative attention by shutting themselves away from the cameras, but Duchovny prefers to stay in front of them. Since the mid '90s, the actor has enjoyed spoofing himself and his celebrity image on-screen for the world to see, and old habits die hard.

In 2022, the former "X-Files" star appeared in "The Bubble," where he plays a self-centered, philandering movie star who is stuck in a complicated relationship with an actress. In a 2022 interview with Consequence, Duchovny explains how he manages to keep his distance while parodying his own celebrity image.

Early Parodies

Back in the mid '90s, "The Larry Sanders Show" was one of the most popular shows on tv, so well-known actors often popped up as guest stars. One of the most popular guest appearances was David Duchovny, who had gained mainstream popularity playing Fox Mulder on "The X-Files." One of Duchovny's most popular appearances occurs in the sitcom's fifth season, where an enamored Duchovny invites Larry to his hotel room and shows off his goods in a loose, white robe à la Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct."

Some celebrities might shy away from mocking themselves on a popular show, but Duchovny seemed to thrive on it. When asked why he decided to parody himself on the sitcom, Duchovny explained:

"Sanders gave me the opportunity – it wasn't like I had that idea, because Sanders was in the business of celebrities presenting themselves in a way that they would never want to present themselves in reality. It was pre-Internet. But it was the first kind of show that allowed celebrities to wink and say, 'hey, we're screwed up, we're just people, we can make fun of ourselves,' whatever it was."

As opposed to hiding away from the expectations of celebrity, Duchovny has decided it's best to embrace it, and make fun of the whole idea every chance he gets.

Exploring the disconnect

Most recently, he appeared in Judd Apatow's "The Bubble," a Netflix comedy about a group of pampered celebrities who are forced to quarantine after their production is postponed due to the pandemic. Duchovny portrays Dustin Mulray, a womanizing, self-obsessed actor stuck in a toxic relationship with his ex-wife (Leslie Mann). Given Duchovny's recent past with sex addiction and the fallout of his marriage, one might assume this role might hit a little too close to home for the actor, but Duchovny isn't one to shy away from such things.

Over the years, Duchovny has discovered a way to parody himself while keeping emotional distance from the roles and the audience:

"I don't associate it with myself — if I'm playing a character named David Duchovny, I don't think of it as me [...] To me, that's a character. I would never want to present myself in a way that is truly me — that's very personal. Perhaps if you were doing a documentary on me, I'd try to be as honest as possible, but that's not the way I see it. So I guess what I'm interested in is playing with that disconnect."

Duchovny enjoys slipping into the make believe, and poking fun of who and what Hollywood expects him to be. He's drawn to roles that avoid taking showbiz or his image too seriously, even if it means propositioning Larry Sanders in a white robe or snorting drugs off of Keegan-Michael Key's bald head.

Like most celebrities, Duchovny is no stranger to the pressures of fame or the insidious nature of gossip, but he seems to have found a healthy way of dealing with it. After all, you got to laugh to keep from crying, right?