Duchovny gets a charge out of ‘TV’ 

Five years after "X-Files" alum David Duchovny jumped the television mothership for a film career, he’s still trying to show the world "the truth is out there." But forget about the aliens. This time around, Duchovny is exposing the very industry that launched his celebrity.

In "The TV Set," an inspired comedy about the behind-the-scenes foibles of launching a television show, the Golden Globe-winning actor plays a beleaguered writer whose original ideas are constantly challenged by the unimaginative, money-hungry network execs who have just greenlit his pilot.

"It wasn’t like, ‘If I get this (role), then can we get back at all those idiots and show them what television is really like,’" Duchovny jokes. "I loved the character and the script was really funny and smart. I really wanted to play a guy who was trapped between seeing his family and servicing some artistic vision within big business."

With Ioan Gruffudd, Judy Greer, Justine Bateman and a particularly brilliant Sigourney Weaver as creative tent poles, "The TV Set" is more "Don’t Touch That Dial" than "Please Pass the Remote."

Duchovny says the film’s spark has a great deal to do with its director, Jake Kasdan, known for his work on "Zero Effect" and "Freaks and Geeks."

"He wasn’t over the top," he says. "He was funny from humanity and with a certain kind of gentleness. I haven’t seen many movies that can show you the ridiculousness of fear and what it can make an actor do."

Duchovny might be talking from experience. It wasn’t entirely slim pickings before "The X-Files" came around and made him — and Fox Television — a significant force within the industry in the late-’90s, but, like any actor, he’s had pay his dues ("Kalifornia," "The Rapture").

After "The X-Files" folded, the actor nabbed roles in the big-screen comedies "Return to Me" and "Trust The Man." But two years ago, he made a dent with his directorial debut, "House of D," which starred Robin Williams. Up next is "Things We Lost in the Fire," a drama with Halle Berry and Benicio del Toro.

All of it, Duchovny says, taught him about the art of collaboration.

"I think the auteur theory of one person creating a movie is baloney. Maybe if you’re a Cassavetes. But there’s something in our society that wants to give one person all the credit for the movie. That doesn’t exist nor does it exist in a television show," he adds. "You collaborate on the set and then through the gamut of producers and network execs. Sometimes, it can be really horrible, sometimes not."

Meanwhile, life away from the lens isn’t that bad. He and wife Téa Leoni are happily married with two children.

"I’m becoming accepting of myself and however I’m supposed to express my talents," the 46-year-old Duchovny says. "I’m accepting my own path. I don’t have big serenity or anything — I mean, I’m not saying the serenity prayer all the time — but I certainly have come to a place where I believe that everybody has a different path and I’m just accepting my own."

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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