Australian Reviews and Articles
Lovin' the alien
THE truth is out there: David Duchovny can't escape space aliens.
Angela Dawson, Courier-Mail, July 12, 2001
After hanging up his badge as Special Agent Mulder following eight seasons on Fox TV's popular sci-fi series The X-Files, the 40-year-old actor finds himself once again pursuing extraterrestrial beings in his new big-screen comedy, Evolution.
Duchovny calls it a "superficial coincidence," sounding like a skeptic he might have encountered on an X-Files episode.
In the film, Duchovny plays a disgraced government scientist who has found work as a chemistry professor at a remote Arizona community college. When a meteor crashes into the nearby desert, Duchovny's character and his eccentric, geology-teaching colleague Orlando Jones investigate.
Deep underground, they discover alien organisms rapidly evolving into creatures that threaten to destroy the human race. The duo decide to save the world and perhaps win a Nobel prize, but of course the government soon swoops in and takes charge.
Undeterred, the professors and a goofy, would-be fireman (Road Trip's Seann William Scott) hatch their own plan to battle the aliens and save the Earth.
Duchovny says he took the role of an alien fighter because he wanted to work with producer/director Ivan Reitman, the man behind hit comedies like Dave, Private Parts, Road Trip, Ghostbusters and National Lampoon's Animal House.
"He basically said, 'I want you to do this movie,' " recalls Duchovny.
"I said, 'That's great, because I want to do a movie like the movies you're doing.' He handed me the script – and they say show business is hard – I went over it, read it and saw that it had aliens. I said to myself, 'Goddamn. What were the odds of that?' "
But Duchovny wasn't going to turn down what he considered to be a decent role simply because the film had extraterrestrials. "I wanted to do a different kind of acting," says the handsome Yale graduate, who finds himself inextricably linked with his serious TV persona. "I look more at the role and the director and the type of movie that it's going to be. That's why I wanted to do this."
Reitman, who produced the 1992 family comedy Beethoven, in which Duchovny had a supporting role, claims he wasn't even thinking about The X-Files when he approached Duchovny for the lead in Evolution.
Oddly, the film was originally written as a dramatic sci-fi thriller, but when Reitman took the project under his wing, he saw its comedic potential and had it adapted into a special-effects-laden action-comedy.
Casting came next, and Duchovny, who barely cracked a smile during his eight years on The X-Files, wasn't an obvious choice to headline a comedy. But Reitman says "his name kept popping into my head" as the producer/director began working on Evolution. Reitman needed an actor who could handle the delicate balance of convincingly portraying a scientist, yet with comedic timing and sensibilities.
"I thought David could carry the water that needed to be carried in this relatively outlandish story," Reitman says. "At the same time, I knew that I could count on him to carry some of the humorous stuff. I'd seen him a few times on The Larry Sanders Show. I always was taken by the wit that he had. He seemed like a real adult, and I thought that this movie needed an adult."
Reitman claims he never watches The X-Files and simply didn't consider that Duchovny might not want to accept a role where he takes on invaders from outer space.
Despite his initial concerns about revisiting familiar territory, Duchovny saw something in the script that made him want to do the movie. Part of the appeal, he says, was that Evolution seems to have been derived from the phenomenally successful 1984 comedy Ghostbusters, which starred Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray as ghost-fighting parapsychologists.
There are some obvious similarities between Evolution and Ghostbusters: the heroes are eccentric scientists, they get "slimed" and Aykroyd appears in both films. Like Ghostbusters, Evolution already has spawned a Saturday morning cartoon series scheduled to air later. "I remember Ghostbusters as being the first big event movie that was targeted for someone my age at that time," recalls Duchovny.
After settling a $US25 million lawsuit with Fox for a share of the profits from syndication of The X-Files TV show, Duchovny doesn't feel the pressure to take just any role. He and his wife, actress Tea Leoni, who battles dinosaurs in the upcoming Jurassic Park III, are enjoying being with their 2-year-old daughter, Madelaine.
Duchovny says that while he's completely through with The X-Files TV series, he hasn't ruled out reprising Mulder should a sequel to the 1998 movie based on the series come about. "I love The X-Files," he says.
"I love Mulder. I love playing him. In an abstract way, I'd love to (do another film). But if I'm going to spend six months of my life working really hard, I'd love the script to be great too. I'm hoping they come up with one."
Duchovny says he's content jumping from one film project to another.
Looking back at his Evolution performance, Duchovny says his acting style reminds him more of his work in last year's Return to Me, a romantic comedy in which he co-starred with Minnie Driver.
"In the end," he says, the alien plotline "was like the words to the song. And what I was interested in was the song. I liked doing the performance".
Evolution opens today.
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