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Saturday, April 23, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 a.m.

Duchovny: Film is both personal and universal

New York Daily News

David Duchovny wrote and directed "House of D."

NEW YORK — On "The X-Files," he was the serious, mysterious David Duchovny, the one who spawned a million geek-girl fantasies about FBI agent Fox Mulder.

During TV interviews, he's the self-mocking David Duchovny, the one helping to keep alive the art of the quirky talk-show appearance.

And with "House of D" — his writing-directing debut, scheduled to open Friday — Duchovny, 44, turns wistful, looking back on his childhood in New York, circa 1973.

"I think this movie is more true to who I am than my persona, which is not so much glib as sort of ironic," says Duchovny, before heading to the former site of the House of D — the Women's House of Detention, demolished in 1974 — at Sixth Avenue and 10th Street in Greenwich Village.

"Audiences may learn that about me through the movie. [The rest] is sort of a character I created to appear in public.

"People will say 'House of D' is a personal film, but what makes it personal is that it's about some of my own experiences. And I think the only way to make a movie that's truly universal to everyone is to actually be very specific.

"In Hollywood, they say the phrase 'personal film,' as if you did it for yourself. It's not that way at all. I want to connect with people."

In the movie, 13-year-old prep school student Tommy Warshaw (Anton Yelchin) gets advice on how to impress the girl of his dreams from an unlikely source: an incarcerated hooker (Erykah Badu) at the House of D.

He also helps a mentally challenged co-worker, Pappas (Robin Williams), deliver meat around the city, and deals with a drug-addicted mother (played by Duchovny's wife, Tea Leoni). Duchovny appears at the beginning and end as the adult Tommy, now living in Paris and telling his story to his family.

"About 14 percent of the movie is from my own life," says Duchovny. "I figured it out: I did deliver meat as a kid, but my mother did not have a pill problem, so those cancel each other out. ... Oh, and the French wife I have in the movie is fictional."

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Duchovny — whose father was a writer and whose mother was a schoolteacher — grew up in the East Village and attended the Grace Church School on Ninth Street and Broadway. He and Leoni met in 1996 and were married at Grace Church. Now living in Los Angeles, they have two children, Madeleine, 6, and Kyd, 3.

Duchovny earned degrees in English literature from Princeton and Yale and started acting on a fluke, trying out for numerous TV series in the late '80s before getting bit parts in films and the cable series "Red Shoe Diaries."

He says another "X-Files" movie is out there (the show that first aired in 1993 spawned a big-screen version in 1998), and that he and series co-star Gillian Anderson are on board.

But the program that made him famous spoiled him for other work.

"I consider 'X-Files' to be the best that TV can be," he says. "I didn't want to take something that wasn't going to be good. ... Actors only have so many tricks. So I think that it was good to wait a couple years before coming back."

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