Nearly 30 years after its debut, The X-Files and its star David Duchnovy maintain a diehard fan base. But once upon a time, Duchovny wasn’t quite sold that the show would be a success.
On Wednesday’s episode of the Literally! With Rob Lowe podcast, the actor admitted that he once considered turning down the sci-fi drama’s pilot. “I had gotten… a couple of scenes in this movie of the week, and it was a director who I was friendly with, and I was going to have to…pull out of that part to do The X-Files pilot,” the actor told Lowe. “I said to my agents, ‘I don’t want to do that. You know, she’s a friend, and I don’t want to pull out.’”
At the time, Duchnovy says he thought, “X-Files, this is about extraterrestrials. How long can it go? It’s a good pilot but you’re either going to see the aliens or [not].”
“I wasn’t interested in conspiracy theories,” he added, “and I was perfectly willing to just say, ‘I’m going to have to pass on that pilot, because I said I’d do this other project.’”
Fortunately, Duchovny’s agents convinced him, in the end, that turning down the pilot was the wrong move. “It’s scary to think back on, if you didn’t open this door, or you took that left instead of that right. It’s like, none of it had to happen,” he said of his career. “You talk about actors being dumb…well, that was me.”
In conversation with Duchovny, Lowe wondered, might another X-Files movie be possible? “That’s really a Fox question,” he said. “You know, they’re weird because it’s…a big-ticket property and you think, why wouldn’t you try to do another one? So, I don’t know.”
Earlier in the podcast, Duchovny expanded on his aversion to conspiracy theories, which he considers “dangerous,” noting that because of his role in The X-Files, he has often been approached by fans with theories of their own. “There were a couple years there where people were asking me about lizard people, and I had no clue that it was a big thing… I’d be signing somebody’s thing and they’d say, ‘Oh, so-and-so’s a reptilian or a lizard,’ and I’d be like, ‘Yeah? Uh, all right,'” he remembered. “This kind of thing…happened all the time and I’d go, ‘What the f**k is wrong with people?’ You know? It didn’t make any sense to me.”
Created by Chris Carter, The X-Files centered on Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), F.B.I. Agents investigating the strange and unexplained, with hidden forces working to impede their efforts.
Premiering on Fox in September of 1993, the show ran originally for nine seasons, landing Duchovny the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama in 1997. Spawning two features, including The X-Files (1998) and The X-Files: I Want To Believe (2008), it also returned with a two-season revival in 2016.