Reporter Peter Morris caught up with David Duchovny during the post-production for ĎThe Unnaturalí. David wrote and directed the episode: he also acts in it! The episode was one of the highest rated in the showís history in the US.
PM: Tell us how you came up with the idea.
DD: It was during the home run race last year between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa (both players broke a long standing baseball record for the number of home runs hit in season).
There was an article in the paper about this minor league player who had hit more home runs than anybody in organised baseball. He actually played on a team in Roswell, New Mexico which obviously is an important location for UFO people. I just made the association... "What if this guy was an alien?" and I just started working on that idea.
So I kind of merged that with Pinocchio and I made the guy black and factored in the fact of Jackie Robinson going into the major leagues (the first black baseball player to do so) - and that actually happened right around the time of the Roswell mystery. So there were all these happy chronological coincidences that I was able to use and then the fact that I set it all in the Forties meant that I could do a lot of it in flashback which meant I didnít have to be so heavily involved as an actor - so it all kind of fell into place that I was able to direct it as well as write it.
PM: What about the casting, were you heavily involved in that because I know you specifically wanted Jesse Martin for the title role?
DD: Iíd seen Jesse in Rent a few years ago and he was great. And then I saw him on Ally McBeal and he just had the right feel for the character. The other major parts were cast because they were all recurring characters, so apart from Jesse I didnít have that much to do with casting.
PM: Although youíve never directed before Iím assuming that after five and half years on the show youíd pretty much got the idea of how to do it by watching other directors?
DD: You have an idea but you never really know until you do it how specific it all is or how much energy you need. But I had a director of photography and a first assistant director and a script supervisor and they all know much more than I do about this so they kept me in line.
PM: So is it an experience youíd want to repeat?
DD: Yeah - I think if you have something that you want to do. I donít think I could do what Kim or Rob [two regular directors of the show] do where they get a script that they may not relate to but they just shoot it anyway. I donít know if I could do that.
I really liked the idea that I directed, so it was easy for me to be involved. It would be harder to spend that kind of energy on something you didnít really believe in.
Since then David has written and directed another episode which stars Gary Shandling, and starred in sci-fi comedy Evolution. You can read another interview with David on the BBCi Films website.
© 2000 Peter Morris