Womaniser and troubled novelist Hank Moody (played by X-Files star David Duchovny) is known for living a hedonistic lifestyle to distract him from his severe writer’s block and family troubles. However, in season three he decides to go steady and becomes a teacher, which throws up a host of other temptations: he’s surrounded by college students, parties and ‘experimentation’. Meanwhile his daughter has become a somewhat wayward teen and he continues to fail as a father figure. We asked David Duchovny if it will ever be a happy ending for Hank.
Now people have learned that you’re funny, are you getting different offers coming your way?
I think it’s taken a while for my comedic voice to either mature or to be heard. This show has been instrumental in me gaining confidence. What I think is funny is that in the outset Hank really does have pretty much everything going for him and it all goes wrong.
Do you believe, or hope, that Hank will eventually find his happily ever after?
It depends. When Tom [Kapinos, creator] and I get to the point when we’re finishing up the show, hopefully we’ll be conscious. Hopefully the show won’t be cancelled and just go out unknowingly. If we get a chance to create the end of our own show, it’ll have a lot to do with Tom’s world and whether he thinks happy endings are possible in life. Knowing Tom, that could be no.
Is it difficult to be both an actor and executive producer of a show?
No, because I don’t really deal with the nuts and bolts of production unless I’m directing, and then I’m really involved in the casting and location and all that stuff. Once the show is up and running I leave the writing and the pre-production to Tom and his staff, and I generally just try to make sure that all of us on set are comfortable and we all strike the same kind of tone, which is so important.
What inspired you to direct an episode of Californication?
Oh, I love directing. I’ve never directed a comedy, really. I can only direct one episode a year, because I have to be able to prep it. As long as the show continues, I’d like to direct the first one of each season.
Hank Moody is simultaneously the coolest guy on the planet and an utter loser. How have you managed to achieve both?
Yeah, he is losing. He’s losing a lot, but what I’ve always thought about Hank from the beginning, and the reason I was attracted to the role, is that he’s a character who speaks his mind. He’s kind of the truth teller among all these people who are lying. That gives the character a kind of power, and it also makes him real, a guy that will just say what’s on his mind. It’s what we all want to do a lot of the time, but we can’t because we’ll get fired or whatever.
Is it a problem for you to be known as a TV actor as well as a film actor?
No, because I go back and forth. It’s just a matter of when you have a film that makes a ton of money. You know, that’s really the only thing that makes the difference between a film actor and a TV actor. I’ve done a lot of both and to me there’s no difference in the style or in the quality, it’s just a matter of luck, fortune, timing and sometimes choices.
Do you feel closer to Hank Moody or to spooky Mulder?
I don’t feel closer to any character that I play. I do use parts of myself, like any actor, but that kind of thinking never enters into my consciousness.
If you met Hank Moody in real life, what would you think of him? Why do you think so many viewers relate to the character?
As a father of two young kids, I don’t see myself in a place where I’d meet Hank Moody, but I think people sympathise with him mostly because he speaks his mind and he does have a heart. He cares, he just can’t seem to avoid screwing up, and it’s a comedic situation. But it could very easily be told as a tragedy, I guess.
Californication season three airs on Fridays at 1pm on MBC.