Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment the morning after Election Day, David Duchovny is, like much of the nation, on edge. Leading up to the presidential election, the actor and singer-songwriter released the scathing protest song “Layin’ on the Tracks,” with its unsubtle jab at a certain “stupid orange man in a cheap red hat.” Says Duchovny, “I went to bed [on Tuesday] really depressed. … I felt gut-punched. I felt very dark. I felt desolate. I felt I can't put up with another four years of this guy.”
However, Duchovny remains hopeful as the ballots continue to be counted. “When I woke up this [Wednesday] morning and I saw what was going on, I felt a lot better,” he says. But while Duchovny is clearly no fan of Donald Trump (“He’s a cheater, he's a crook, he's a criminal, he deserves to be in prison for many different crimes”), he’s also aware that the problem in America is much bigger than just who is in the White House.
“I'm just hoping that we get to the point, at least, where we can start to have a discussion over the things that are creating a country in which this election will be this close,” Duchovny explains. “The other part is, you know, the social media aspect of the disinformation and Facebook and all that. The Electoral College, Facebook misinformation, foreign interference, they're all part of what’s making this stuff so difficult to understand and makes it so hard to talk to one another, because people are arguing different sets of facts. And that’s a tough way to argue. … Facebook has got to get its act together somehow, or we're f****ed. You know, we do need to function from the same fact playbook. We do need to come together with the same group of objective facts. We can all have different ideas about those facts, but we're not entitled to our own facts.”
Given that Duchovny is probably best known for playing heroic conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder in the X-Files franchise, it’s ironic that he’s releasing “Layin’ on the Tracks” in the midst of an era of Facebook-disseminated fake news and general tin-hat hysteria. Of course, in Mulder’s case, much of his conspiracy theorizing was proven true — the fictional FBI special agent was on the right side of fictional history. But it’s interesting to imagine which side of actual history Mulder would be on in 2020.
“I have thought about it, just because it’s an obvious thing to want to think about, especially for me who played that character. It is odd, because I’d be sitting here going, ‘So Mulder’s, basically, he'd be like a QAnon?’ And that bothers me!” Duchovny chuckles. “And I like to think that it’s not true, because as you say, Mulder was onto something true. And the QAnon people would say the same thing, right? They’d say they were onto something true. So it’s a little weird, a weird thing to think about. It’s certainly of a different time, and certainly conspiracies have always made for good movies and television, because they're dramatic and they have bad guys.”
As for whether an X-Files reboot would work now, Duchovny muses, “Well, that’s the question for people who may or may not want the X-Files to continue — like, the question would be for Chris Carter or for Fox or anybody who might be interested in seeing what was left in that show would be. What are the stories we’re going to tell? What is the position, where would Mulder be in all this?” Duchovny stops short of confirming that he’d sign on to such a project, pointing out that he respects the decision of his co-star Gillian Anderson, with whom he has “no animosity,” not to return to the series. “Things happen if they're good, you know, so if somebody had a great idea, I hope everybody would go, ‘Let’s do that!’” (He does, however, agree that it might be fun to do an X-Files rock musical with the help of his Californication co-star musician/comedian Tim Minchin, joking about a possible musical number titled “Suddenly Scully.”)
In the meantime, Duchovny is readying his third album, Gestureland, which he says will be his most personal yet. “I'm always trying to write a personal song, but … when I love a song, I feel like I wrote it. I feel like it was written for me. I feel like, ‘How did that person get inside my head?’ And that’s what my goal is, to be lucky enough one day to write a song that somebody else might feel it was written for them.” As to whether America’s citizens really want to hear political opinions from an actor — or any celebrity — he says bluntly: “All I have on this planet is my point of view and my words, my music, my acting, whatever. And if it comes out in a way that’s appropriate for this day and age and voting and this election, then that’s where I was at. But certainly I can sympathize with people that are really tired of celebrities giving their opinions when they’re not experts. I’m a fan of experts; that’s one of the main problems I have with the Trump administration, is they hire people who don’t know what they’re doing because they’re manipulatable. And if you could get the experts back in government, I’ll be happy to tell my fellow celebrities to shut the f*** up, just get the experts in there.”
And that is why Duchovny stresses that “Layin’ on the Tracks,” which was written last year and recorded in January before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, isn’t just about Donald Trump, despite that damning “stupid orange man” line. “I mean, that’s the line that would jump out at you and people go, ‘Oh, hey, anti-Trump,’ whatever,” he shrugs. “But if you care to look at the lyrics, I'm questioning myself as well. I say: ‘The part of me that turned away/I have to kill, I have to break the chain/Because you’re suffering, it is my pain/It is my suffering.’ The singer of the song, which is me, is trying to say, ‘I’m sorry for turning away. I don't want to turn away anymore. It's not just ‘f*** you Trump,’ but it's also ‘f*** you, David. And get better.’ So I was kind of playing around with a darkness in myself that had pushed me into certain areas, while I was trying to inhabit and investigate the darkness in this country.”
Check out Yahoo Entertainment’s extended David Duchovny interview below, in which he discusses launching a musical career late in life, the connections between his music and his sex/drugs/rock ‘n’ roll Californication character Hank Moody, his musical influences and whether he’d ever consider another side career in politics:
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