A sweet film about a boy coming of age too quickly in 1970s New York City? Not necessarily what you’d expect from the guy who was Fox Mulder, but with David Duchovny’s big-screen directorial debut, House of D (costarring the former X-Filer and his wife Téa Leoni), the native New Yorker shows a more sentimental side — and even speaks in French! (Tragically, still no word on the current whereabouts of the Truth.)
Which was easier, shooting in New York or Paris? Paris was just me on a bike, riding through the streets…guerrilla filmmaking. We didn’t have permits. We just had a Steadicam off the back of a truck, trying to weave in and out of traffic, which I thought would look cool.
But most of the film takes place around your old NYC stomping ground. Is it at all autobiographical? Certain images are. Every boy, to become a man, has to — like the Bible says — leave childish things behind. There’s a lot of heartbreak in that. Then for a man really to become a man, he has to rejoin a family. That’s the two moves of the movie. Although that makes it sound kind of like medicine. It’s a very funny movie on top of that.
You do enjoy the mystical romantic stuff. I don’t know. I guess I’m a mystical romantic. But that’s true. I like the poetic gesture. I like bittersweet things.
And you cast Robin Williams as a mentally challenged janitor. He has that childlike quality, and Robin’s very powerful physically. I liked the disconnect between his physical strength and his mental weakness.
I kind of kept waiting for him to snap. Which is good. I wanted you to wait for that.
But then it’s a nice snap, in a weird way. That’s my mystic romanticism again.
Speaking of, I have to ask: X-Files movie? Supposedly sometime early next year, but there’s no script that I’ve seen. But it seems like all parties are willing.
Was this film a conscious move to change how people think of you? No. Well, it’s conscious because I’m aware that I’m doing it, but it’s a compulsion. I like doing all these things — writing, directing, and acting. I’m not trying to define myself in any way. But it seems that people like to put other people in boxes. If somebody does something different, I would hope I’d go, ”Hey, great! Let’s see if they can do that.” But maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I’d go, ”Stay in your box! For chrissakes! Don’t make me rethink you!”