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This week I wanted to share this interview I did with my friend Samantha Bee on her show Choice Words. Read more about our discussion below, and happy listening. We’ll be back next week.

When actor David Duchovny was teaching his daughter to ride a bike, he made the questionable choice of taking her to the top of a grassy hill at Pepperdine University in Malibu and pointing her straight downhill toward Highway 1. Luckily she learned (quickly) how to brake, but he realized not all of his ideas are good ones. In fact, some are failures. Sam asks David how to view failure through a positive lens, why it’s so hard for Americans to admit defeat, and why Yale is still waiting for him to teach a Kierkegaard graduate class.

Follow David Duchovny @davidduchovny on Instagram.

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Samantha Bee, David Duchovny

Samantha Bee  00:00

Movements for change need momentum to fuel them. The Me To Movement grew in prominence in 2017 when Donald Trump was busy installing his diet coke button in the White House and reports of Harvey Weinstein doing his thing and two potted plants were being splattered across the front pages. Oh, no. That is a poor word choice. For a few moments, it felt like when women chose to come forward with stories of assault, people were finally listening and not just listening, but like caring, litigating, believing even, can you imagine women could have a little justice as a treat me to became a rallying cry, there were marches and original songs, and of course, all of those gorgeous lapel pins worn at the Oscars. People were re embracing the word feminist while the rest of us were left to question why they’d ever truly abandoned the word at all. And then in 2020, Harvey Weinstein moved into jail as you know, who moved out of the White House was this movement unstoppable. As we’ve seen time and time again, people got tired of issues championed by women, they recategorize them as just women’s issues as if these issues don’t affect absolutely everyone. People who had at one time been fathers of daughters and sons of mother and brothers of sisters started to just be regular, regular old dudes again. And now here we are in 2024. And Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction has been overturned and Donald Trump is not only circling the White House but explicitly telling us what he will do to women. If and when he returns, and all of a sudden, it is feeling not that jazzy to be a woman again.


Samantha Bee  02:03

This is Choice Words, I am Samantha Bee, and my feminism is not a choice. It’s just who I am. Sometimes it’s full of joy. Other times it feels really happy, but it is May time to rear my head out of my cozy winter turtlenecks. As we have been for the last eternity, we are in the middle of one of the most important elections of our lifetime, but still, it is important to preserve moments of joy so that we can replenish our momentum to fuel our movements of change and joy is exactly what today’s episode is about. My guest today is the incredible actor and author David Duchovny, you know, David from shows like The X Files and Californication and I first got to know David while at full frontal, where he was always ready to lend his time to our very silly ideas. He is incredibly thoughtful and talking to him was exactly what I needed today. Additionally, his new podcast Failed Better is also out now on Lemonada, in fact, a taste of fail better will drop on this feed next week. So come back for that. Until then, take a listen and make good choices.


Samantha Bee  03:32



David Duchovny  03:33

Hi, long time.


Samantha Bee  03:35

I know it’s so nice to see you.


David Duchovny  03:37

Nice to see you too. You know I want to I want to tell you you know we had we had lunch a number of years ago. And do you remember we met Steve Martin? I don’t know what because you left early. Well you didn’t leave early you left you know as a normal person would and I think I just stayed behind and I don’t know if I ever told you but Steve Martin was like, you know Samantha really wants to know you.


Samantha Bee  04:05

I just had a minor heart attack.


David Duchovny  04:09

Exactly, I thought I wanted to let you know.


Samantha Bee  04:11

Thank you so much.


David Duchovny  04:13

That is not want to talk to me at all about anything. He just wanted to know that I knew Samantha Bee.


Samantha Bee  04:19

What in the heavenly stars. I have to cut this piece out of whatever we put out because I can’t he can’t handle it compliments make me sweat. And that’s because Canadian.


David Duchovny  04:32

Isn’t a Canadian thing?


Samantha Bee  04:33

I think it is not allowed to accept well


David Duchovny  04:36

Because you know as soon as you accept a compliment, you will be destroyed. The tall poppy syndrome.


Samantha Bee  04:41

Tall poppy syndrome. It can’t, you can’t ever do it. When you are Canadian and you buy something and someone goes I love your I love your check blazer you have to go I got it for $4 just want to let you know, I picked it up off the floor by a garbage bin and I washed it I was coming here today to my little setup, and I was thinking about you. And I was thinking, you know, what is so funny? And I think that you will like what I’m about to say is that even though you’re very famous actor, I primarily think of you as a writer. Just I feel, I was like, I thought so. Because I’ve just feel like I’ve read all your books. And my life, great. You’re great writer.


David Duchovny  05:34

And you were nice enough to blurb truly like lightning for me, which wonderful.


Samantha Bee  05:39

Was a joy, anyway, that’s just a nugget. That’s just.


David Duchovny  05:44

We think of myself that way. You know, I mean, that was.


Samantha Bee  05:47

I wondered.


David Duchovny  05:47

I would have that would have been. My dad was a writer. I don’t know if you know that he published his first novel when he was 75.


Samantha Bee  05:57

I didn’t know that he was 75.


David Duchovny  06:00

Young, right and then he died at 76. Out there.


Samantha Bee  06:09

Now, it’s fine.


David Duchovny  06:10

He gave new meaning to check in the box. Yeah, he did. And he was, yeah, I mean, it was it was like part of my family’s lore because when my parents split up, the the, the story that we were told, the story that my father was telling was that he, you know, he had these three young kids and a small apartment in New York, I grew up on 11th Street and Second Avenue, and I guess a three bedroom, three kids, two adults, you know, and my father said, you know, I don’t have any piece to write, I’m gonna, and how New York is this? How early 70s is this he, he got himself a room at the Chelsea Hotel. And he was gonna live there for like three or four months. And, and then and if he if he came out if he came up with his novel and had it and there’ll be something, but he, he couldn’t do it with screaming me and screaming, my sister and my brother. Were lucky, it was snowing. And, but it was a lie, unfortunately, because he was actually leaving for someone else. Which he said, finally, as he came back for his last suitcase, he said, I’m, I’m going elsewhere.


Samantha Bee  07:25

It was like, actually, the whole part about finding myself was kind of made up. Like, I’m gonna find myself, but like, well with someone else.


David Duchovny  07:36

So that when he published his novel, it’s 75 or like, okay, you got you. It was more it was more than three or four months, but, but she did and I love I love my dad, he’s a he was such a gentle, gentle, funny guy, you know? And to tell that story makes him seem like an asshole, which I’m sure that was, you know, that was there was a bit of an asshole move there, but so difficult to do under any circumstances, who knows how to do it, right. But you know, I just want to end that story with saying, you know, I love him. He was a beautiful man.


Samantha Bee  08:11

We’re all just a box of crayons. Just I don’t know what I mean by that. We’re just all many shades of our personalities like across the board. Nobody’s I had this read this article recently, we are going to talk about the substance of my podcasts. We definitely are but I guess like reading about some person who’s like very famous for giving dispensing advice in life. And it’s like, so controversial, because in there, they’re just like, a have a super fucked up personal life. And I was like, you know what, I don’t know why people have to have heroes, like people can’t be all things. They can’t be all the things you want them to be. And if you put too many eggs in the basket of someone else’s personality, she’s just gonna be disappointed every time. Like don’t have heroes, what what for?


David Duchovny  09:08

That’s mature and very Canadian of you. I don’t think it’s I don’t think it’s very American Americans like their heroes, I think. I don’t know, I wish that they didn’t as well but I think that I mean, a character that I’m always fascinated by, in whatever I’m doing, I always seem to come back to the same kind of an archetype, which is like, the bad priest. You know, he’s, he’s a great priest, but he’s a bad man, you know.


Samantha Bee  09:36

Right, right.


David Duchovny  09:37

And that, that contradiction, and that we see over and over in life where people who are flawed are really able to help other people and it could be because they are flawed and we can’t have you know, the hero, the hero has nothing for us. You know, he can tell us nothing.


Samantha Bee  09:55

You don’t have to be magical in your life. Like you can’t have it, no one has everything together all the time. No one has has ever been all things to all people. It is literally like, Mother Teresa was a flawed human being. Like, what are we doing?


David Duchovny  10:16

And kind of into? into like PR I think Mother Teresa was kind of into PR. She like she likes. She liked her image and she kept it.


Samantha Bee  10:27

She was fierce about it. Good for the original flawed person.


David Duchovny  10:34

She was she was the original like PR.


Samantha Bee  10:39

She was a nightmare in the Hampton.


David Duchovny  10:41

Have you seen Mother Teresa’s writer?


Samantha Bee  10:45

She makes us take all the color off the m&ms just a big blank ball of white m&ms. It is takes us all day to scrub them.


David Duchovny  10:54

That’s right.


Samantha Bee  10:57

Okay, so my podcast is about choice. And we I feel like we’ve already talked about some quality, while it a choice. Are you like a good decision making? You good at making? Are you good at making decisions? […]


David Duchovny  11:11



Samantha Bee  11:11

Are you? […] do other forever?


David Duchovny  11:15

No, I simply make a choice that has nothing to do with my feelings or research, because.


Samantha Bee  11:23

What do you mean?


David Duchovny  11:24

Because I well, I read when I was in high school, I was studying the existentialists. I want to collegiate in your neighborhood.


Samantha Bee  11:34

They’re in my wishes now just.


David Duchovny  11:37

Yeah, I know. Well, they certainly kick them out of the move. So sad, so sad and studied Kierkegaard and Kierkegaard had this. I’ll never forget it. He said, the moment of decision is madness. And I’ve always felt like, absolutely, like, here comes the waiter, I’ve got my menu of fuck me, you know? I don’t know. I’ll just have that, do you really want that? I don’t, I don’t know, I don’t know if I really want. So I guess I go with my gut, I guess maybe a positive spin on that would be I’m just kind of instinctually getting my way through life but generally, I just do things like if you’re talking about choices of acting roles and things like that, I generally just do what comes my way. If I’m free or whatever, I generally think I don’t have the wherewithal to figure out whether this thing is going to be great, great or not. I cuz that never really pans out in my life. It’s always like, I’m always surprised at what turns out good and what turns out bad. So if there’s something calling to me, it could be anything could be something shitty as money or whatever. But if there’s something calling to me, then I’ll just make a decision. It doesn’t have to be all the things.


Samantha Bee  12:52

Just do it, so like, are you a perpetual? I have to go back to a restaurant menu right now. Are you a perpetual bad order? I think that’s funny. When people are just like, I always get the wrong thing because I just impulsively go sweetbreads. I don’t know.


David Duchovny  13:10

No, because if we want to stick with the restaurant thing, I’m a pretty I’m a pretty what’s the word boring eater? I’m not I’m not really into food. I mean, people look at me like I’m a pervert when I say that like.


Samantha Bee  13:27



David Duchovny  13:28

Yeah, exactly. Like, what’s your humanity? I think I don’t know. It’s just full of food. Food has always been fueled to me, I think and that’s it really. So even if I made a bad order, I wouldn’t care. I’d be like, fine, I’ll eat that.


Samantha Bee  13:45

This is just grain. These are grains.


David Duchovny  13:47

This is the pump. I’m just at the pump.


Samantha Bee  13:50

Just strap on the food bag. I don’t care is it? Oh, it’s it all tastes medium.


David Duchovny  13:56

Or a pig just shovel it in here.


Samantha Bee  13:59

[…] Scraps I’ll just take the rice.


David Duchovny  14:01

I will eat the scraps.


Samantha Bee  14:03

I’ll just eat the corn cobs without the kernels.


David Duchovny  14:05

My girlfriend is so she’s always making fun of me because I will not heat anything up like I will eat the spaghetti in the shape of a rectangle because that’s the Tupperware that was in you know that kind of.


Samantha Bee  14:23

You know one cheese right to make fun of you. She’s that’s pretty funny.


David Duchovny  14:29

I remember when I was a kid we get Chinese takeout from Jade mountain on 12th Street and Second Avenue I’m not giving a plug because I can’t be there anymore. I just be totally surprised if they weren’t but Jade mountain that was our our we could eat out and we get sweet and sour pork. And the day after it had been in that takeout and you put it turn it over and would come out still have the shape of the container. I would eat that I would eat that. I would eat the shape as the can.


Samantha Bee  15:01

I just got a fork and knife and I start with a corner, a corner piece.


David Duchovny  15:05

I just made, you know, I make do and it starts to melt, you know, ultimately as I’m eating it, which is.


Samantha Bee  15:11

Congeal, just releases a little bit, and then you’re like, oh, now it looks like doesn’t matter pick it has gone down the hatch are linked down that watch,


David Duchovny  15:20

It’s all going in the same place.


Samantha Bee  15:21

See, see in three minutes,


David Duchovny  15:23

My stomach doesn’t care if it’s heated up or not. It just says, give me fuel.


Samantha Bee  15:29

We’ll be right back with David Duchovny after this.


Samantha Bee  15:51

There’s something that you can look at like that, you know that it is even a very impulsive choice that you made in your life that you think just like really significantly changed it, even if it’s a small amount, even if it’s something small.


David Duchovny  16:06

Oh, well, I’m looking at a guitar across the room here. And what I did was I wanted to learn how to play guitar. And I was shooting Californication at the time, so I’m being half my mother and half my father, I’m always looking for a bit of an angle. And I thought, okay, I want my character to learn how to play guitar, and therefore David will have to get lessons. So that’s what I what I did I, I probably should have said I want my character to have a private plane or something. But I just thought guitar. And so I started taking lessons while I was doing the show. And then I went and I bought a what I thought was a very expensive guitar. Now I know guitars get super expensive. And this was a $3,000 guitar, which I thought was a lot of money for a beginner. And the reason I did that the reason I made that choice was because I knew, again, going back to my upbringing, that if I spent that kind of money on a guitar, and I did not play it, my self loathing would be so great that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. So I knew I would practice on a $3,000 guitar counter intuitively, like get a cheap guitar at first because who cares? But for me, it was like, get an expensive guitar, you’ll feel so guilty looking at in the corner, you’ll play a lot.


Samantha Bee  17:26

Can I tell you a secret that I’ve never taught? I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this. I do the exact same thing. Don’t do not with guitars. I when I was growing up did not learn how to ride a bike. I was an only child in the city and metropolitan Toronto, lived in an apartment we didn’t have. Like, it wasn’t like nobody I knew was riding bikes. We were just like walking and going to the mall and like being bad. You know, in different ways. It wasn’t like, outdoorsy, let’s all get on our bikes and be a gang. We were just like metropolitan children without bikes. And I was so embarrassed by this. I was like, as an adult in college, I was horrible.


David Duchovny  18:09

You harbored a secret.


Samantha Bee  18:10

A secret, I was ashamed, and I definitely pretended that I knew how to ride a bike. I was like, I don’t feel like biking today like, oh, sure, and so I did.


David Duchovny  18:20

The exact oh, she’s watching the Tour de France, she loves it […]


Samantha Bee  18:23

She loves cycling, I probably had cycling shorts, but just didn’t like it. So I went out. I was like, fuck this. This is embarrassing. I bought myself a bike for $800, which was so much money for me when I was 18.


David Duchovny  18:43

Did you did you spend that money because you thought, as I thought was it the same kind of thinking it was.


Samantha Bee  18:48

Exactly the precisely the same. I was like, I can’t I don’t want to first I don’t want to be on an embarrassing bike. And secondly, I will only learn how to do this if it is so if it fills me with self loathing that I spent this much money on something and never used it. And I bought that stupid, expensive bike and I went to parking lots at five o’clock in the morning, every day until I really learned how to ride it. And then I rode it forever and I still ride.


David Duchovny  19:13

Right, so you so you were falling down and at some random parking lot just falling and falling, or did you just put training wheels?


Samantha Bee  19:21

No, I didn’t train. I think I just went, I was old enough to go I was old enough to think I think that the trick is I have to learn how to balance and I just have to understand balance. And so I actually didn’t really fall over because I just understood the mechanics of it in of in an adult way. And I just went I think I can do this. And I taught myself and then I got quite proficient and then biked everywhere. But it was that same impulse of like, this will be so awful. Having that guitar just like mocking you from across the.


David Duchovny  19:58

Saying I’m such a beat beautiful guitar and you look at you, you won’t even touch me. He won’t even touch me.


Samantha Bee  20:05

You don’t deserve me. Now you, you’re touring. You play like, you.


David Duchovny  20:11

Know that guitar. I still have that guitar, sure.


Samantha Bee  20:14

That’s amazing.


David Duchovny  20:15

But do you enjoy biking now? Do you enjoy?


Samantha Bee  20:19

I do, it’s very natural, it’s very. I love it.


David Duchovny  20:23

Did you or your husband teach your kids how to ride the bike? There’s the question.


Samantha Bee  20:27

Say, we just had more like we had a life that supported bike riding. Do you know what I mean? Like we went to Vacation with our friends and their kids were on bikes, so they didn’t need us to go. And now is the time that we learn bicycles.


David Duchovny  20:46

Well, I have I had funny times with both my kids with bicycles. Yeah, the first one. My daughter, you know, we we raise them in Malibu early on. And so you know Pepperdine, you know that.


Samantha Bee  21:02

Oh, so beautiful.


David Duchovny  21:04

But big lawn?


Samantha Bee  21:05



David Duchovny  21:05

So I got it into my head, like, teach them on the downhill because you know, you don’t know.


Samantha Bee  21:11

Where the highway is at the bottom.


David Duchovny  21:14

Oh, I realized that. About five seconds too late. It was like she’s riding. She’s riding right into traffic. I kind of I kind of, yeah, she was smarter than me though. And she was able to I don’t know if she broke or if she just took it took a knee.


Samantha Bee  21:30

She probably took a knee, she was like.


David Duchovny  21:33

I feel safe with you.


Samantha Bee  21:36

This is very bad advice. And that was when she first looked at you and went, Oh, you have? You know, when you have your child, just look at you. And you’re flawed.


David Duchovny  21:46

You’re just a person.


Samantha Bee  21:47

You’re just a regular old, you don’t have all the answers, do you? You tricked me.


David Duchovny  21:51

Yeah, and my son, he was doing the scooter everywhere, but in the summer place. And it was it was bothering me. Because I was just I don’t know, this is again, my problem. But you know, I was like, you know, you get your own, learn how to bike is so much better, so much faster, you’ll be so much happier. And I finally got him out on the lawn. And I finally got him up on the bike. And he started turning around. And then he said to me, and this is such a great line for my son. He goes, I guess the scooter is out of the picture. Like only a seven year old can.


Samantha Bee  22:35

Scooters out of the picture, father. You’re like, you’re gonna be fine in life. You got this.


David Duchovny  22:44

If you can speak like that.


Samantha Bee  22:46

Yeah, you know, I talked to a bunch of people recently who were like child actors, you know? And I think your daughter, your daughter is an actor.


David Duchovny  22:59

She is yeah, but child actress, she started when she was about 19 or 20.


Samantha Bee  23:04

Okay, and, like, it’s, it’s, it’s funny to me, it’s always funny to me when people know what they want to do, like so early on life because I’m so lost for so long. But you were here in the PhD programming?


David Duchovny  23:20

Yeah well, this I mean, if we’re for hewing closely to your format, and with your original question about how do I make decisions? Well, look, I have never made a decision. I never I, I think they still think I’m in graduate school at Yale. I never I never actually, I think […] they’re waiting for me to show up and teach that class. So I, I didn’t know what to do. I thought I was gonna be I was in graduate school because I thought it was going to afford me if I could get a tenured position I could then write I could write in the summertime, you know, it seemed like a doable life and achievable kind of a scheduled life. And but then at some point, like 23, 24 years old, I was just like, I can’t I gotta get out of school. I mean, it’s I just been in school my whole life. And then I started to look at acting and I never really made the decision to be an actor just started writing. I’m not writing but working, and and the reason I got an acting was because I wanted to write and I thought I should write plays and therefore see what it’s like to say those words. So it was all like never decision and you know, talking about my daughter I think she she actually is much more focused than either of her parents ever were both to and I we’re not, we’re not laser focused on acting is like, that’s our calling at all. It was just like, we kind of fell into it, I fell into it, she fell into it, but with my daughter West, she’s she loves it more than I ever loved, yeah.


Samantha Bee  24:50

Did you take her on set and stuff like did she see or she was like?


David Duchovny  24:53

Pictures, I’m sure I did but it was not something. It’s just in her filming, we were pushing yeah, it isn’t her.


Samantha Bee  25:01



David Duchovny  25:02

And she’s also very different from performance wise, both both me and her mom. So I’m happy that you wouldn’t think of either of us. If you saw her, you know, she’s her own. She’s her own thing.


Samantha Bee  25:15

I think it’s so cool when our children are just so much better than us. It’s like the goal.


David Duchovny  25:22

It’s just like, how did you do that? I saw her first play. And I was like, because she said she, she was, it was hard for her to like, come out to us as an actor.


Samantha Bee  25:32

Really? Why did she think that you would? Why did she think you would resist?


David Duchovny  25:36

Because neither of us, neither of her parents are like, hey, it’ll add an actor’s life for me. You know, we’re not right. And we’re not like, we don’t love Hollywood and whatever. And so she had reservations about it. But we went to see this, this play she did in high school. And I remember just turning in tango. She’s like, she’s wait, she’s like, I had to work so hard to get that natural. You know, like, I worked so hard to get as relaxed, so how come? Why is she so fucking relaxed up there? I don’t understand it.


Samantha Bee  26:13

Oh, my God, that’s great. I, I was say to people, I’m sure people ask you this all the time. They’re like, did she, you know, just she saw your glamorous life. And she was like, I want that, I’m like, no, in, it’s not.


David Duchovny  26:28



Samantha Bee  26:29

It’s not like we make it look good.


David Duchovny  26:30

No, I always talk up. And here’s, here’s talking about my podcast, I would always talk about my failures. You know, I, I wanted my kids. And I don’t know if it had any effect. But I wanted them to know, I was always miserable. I made, I made that none of this, you know, this, if you looked at it from the outside, or their friends were saying, oh, man, your life must be amazing, or whatever. It’s not it never is, if you’re involved in a creative existence, it’s always going to be something’s amiss. You know, you’ll have moments of.


Samantha Bee  27:10

You’ll have moments of when you everything’s clicking.


David Duchovny  27:14

But for the short.


Samantha Bee  27:17

And you have to, like, hold on to the victories, because the failures are so.


David Duchovny  27:26

Yeah, but you know, if we can, and again, that’s kind of what I’m doing on the podcast is like, we can embrace that in each other and, you know, what I what I have felt, and, you know, I know you’re coming from this world, too, is like to watch what’s happened politically in this country over the last eight years. And to watch a man who is basing his entire campaign on a refusal to lose a refusal to admit a failure, and that there’s something in this country that says fuck, yeah, like, never admit defeat, and never admit defeat. And I’m always like, admit defeat, that’s the sweetest thing. It’s real. And it’s human, yes, exactly so I’m kind of a kind of been thinking about those things recently. And, you know, obviously, through parenting, you know, taking your kids through ups and downs, it’s all very relevant.


Samantha Bee  28:30

Did your children hear the message that failure is very failures. Very important in building character.


David Duchovny  28:39

Yeah, I hope so. I mean, unfortunately, if I say it, it doesn’t go in, you know, it’s something they they have to learn it for themselves, you know. And they have to fail themselves. And that’s the hardest thing as a parent is to connect, you know, like, as they’re falling, you know, not break their fall break their faults are gonna get hurt, but not break their fall, like.


Samantha Bee  29:09

Intervene if they’re going down the line at Pepperdine. If they try to get in front of the bike. That’s high stakes.


David Duchovny  29:18

Exactly, it was just falling on the bike on the lawn, then got to do it. They gotta do it.


Samantha Bee  29:24

Gotta do it. Did you have you always been an I also, like, share your intrigue? I love to hear about when people are has have been. I love to hear about like occasions when people have been presenting a very happy self. But inside there was a lot of turmoil makes me feel better about all the times that I’ve experienced that where you’re like, it’s great. And inside you’re like, I’m dead.


David Duchovny  29:52

Yeah, I don’t I don’t know what it is. I mean, you know? It’s a mystery, right? I mean, some it’s your soul or whatever or pre conscious, unconscious crap that has happened, who knows past lives genetic suffering? I don’t know, there’s a million ways to look at it now we keep on looking at different ways for why some people might be melancholy and others are not. And the majority of people are, I feel have melancholy in them, and I just, you know, back in Elizabethan times, they had the humors, right, like, you were you were bilious, they had too much bile, or you were too much liver to it, you know, they were, it was like a psychology and there was a lot of melancholy.


Samantha Bee  30:37

And all you just apply some leeches to the forehead. And that cured it, obviously, and then you would die at 35.


David Duchovny  30:48

Exactly, it was there was a lot to be melancholic about. A few years quite towards the end, there’s the plague and no one’s bathing and God, can you imagine the smells back then?


Samantha Bee  31:02

The smells, what constituted like everything smelled bad, therefore, what smelled really bad. Like if you lived in Elizabethan times, and you’re like, that stinks. I wonder how bad it had to be.


David Duchovny  31:19

And I think they all shaved their heads because of lice and they wore these nasty old wigs that would of course, get heads sweat all over them. We don’t need to go here.


Samantha Bee  31:30

We know we do because there was a lice outbreak at my kids public school there was and I was thought about Elizabethan times and how they would put honey at like to draw the wells on the wig line or at their waist. The bugs like a sticky like sticky fly tape so that the lice wouldn’t crawl down across the face when they were talking chit chatting.


David Duchovny  31:57

And look at the waist is for the pubes. Is that what you’re saying?


Samantha Bee  32:00

I guess so. I don’t know if any of this is true. I may be spreading misinformation about the clean fresh people of the Elizabethan era but I think they put sticky stuff around just to avoid like just a trap.


David Duchovny  32:14

I just give me a few lines of Robbie Burns to allow us the you know he’s he’s Scottish. We sleek it timorous beastie what a panics and they breed nuts to a mouse. This is to allows, how are you going to cower and further your impedance protects your surly I kind of see but just rarely are a Gasan lace of fun misled nardis bonnet.


Samantha Bee  32:38

Oh my god, well.


David Duchovny  32:43

It’s a panty peeler.


Samantha Bee  32:44

This I love it. I love it.


David Duchovny  32:50

That’s that’s going back to my California golden days. I never knew that line. But hang moody like to say […]


Samantha Bee  32:58

Pretty poetry about lace is a penny a penny ever. It keeps her gonna keep them and makes them bigger.


David Duchovny  33:07

So panty sealer.


Samantha Bee  33:12

Pull that thought more with David Duchovny after one more break.


Samantha Bee  33:34

So what was the inciting? When you were approached to do this? Or you were like, I want to do a podcast I want to talk about people’s feelings. I’m intrigued by this, do you think of something in your own life? Like, is there one? I mean, obviously our careers are, there’s so many but like, is there a particular thing that you think about?


David Duchovny  33:53

Well, for me it was there was particular things and and I speak about them I think sometimes on it but for me it was more of this pervasive just the feeling just like a general feeling of failing in the sense of going from inspiration to execution, there was always this high of oh my god, I’ve got this inspiration for whatever it is character book. And now I’m off on this road to make it real. Put it in a form that I can share with other people and immediately I mean there’s just never a direct translation we have to go through words we have to go through collaborating with other people. There’s and that kind of failure is also beautiful. So it’s not like this ugly failure, it’s also the failure of needing other people you know of not being able to do it alone and that’s what we’re in a lot in our you know artistic endeavors if you’re not you know, painter who just paints alone or or whatever the solitary creative arts and then just haven’t used language just very, very sensitive to the fact that these are just approximations for an interior landscape that has no words really, you know, we’re just kind of we’re kind of like agreeing to bullshit one another that we’re actually communicating, you know, our feelings and reality when in fact, the words themselves have a certain kind of reality that we’re keep on bandying back and forth.


Samantha Bee  35:25

So we’re not not necessarily the feeling of failure from like, what throwing out the first pitch at a Dodgers game? And certainly, I mean, it could be that that’s, that’s just so public, but also like the mini failure that just like the feeling of failure.


David Duchovny  35:44

Yeah, when you leave it even take it back to like, Original Sin or something, you know, there’s just like, why? What is that feeling? What what is the? What is useful about that feeling? Because I had somebody say, well, I don’t call it failure. I call it feedback. And I was like, well, you’re the only one.


Samantha Bee  36:05

You’re the only one for you.


David Duchovny  36:08

But, you know, if you could do that, that’d be fantastic. And I was like, how? And also some failures are tougher to bounce back from another’s, you know, some, somebody’s grieving. Some somebody need to grieve. You can’t just go pick myself up and dust myself off and just keep on moving.


Samantha Bee  36:25

Yeah, that’s never.


David Duchovny  36:26

Knock you on your ass.


Samantha Bee  36:28

When people say that, I feel like it’s or maybe it is true. But I feel like there’s a much longer process of like, the we don’t. I like what you’re doing. I think it’s really important because as we were alluding to, there’s a real hesitance to talk about hardship and failure here. Everybody wants to talk about winners. It’s hard to talk. It’s hard to speak. Honestly, it’s also, it’s also additionally challenge, I think, to talk about failure when you’ve had great success.


David Duchovny  37:09

Right, well, yeah, people say what, what are you doing talking about this? Like, easy for you to talk about these failures? Because generally, you would have had a happy ending. So guilty, whatever, I mean, I, I can only speak from from where I speak from, from myself. So this is something that interests me, you know, and I, I’m very interested in shame around failure and shame in general, you know, shame as being such a limiting, you know, I’m looking for, like, the evolutionary positive nature of shame. And when I when I look at it, I say, okay, well, we do have to all live together. So there are some acts that we decide that you gotta get kicked out of the herd now, because you are at least you have to show the herd that you get it, you know, so, okay, I get I get shame in that way but, you know, we live I think we live with so much shame over over so many things in our lives. And I think some of that has to do with the feelings of failure or, you know, shame around failure and things like that. So I’m just like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just trying to have conversations, you know, I’m no expert.


Samantha Bee  38:16

I, I like that. I think about shame a lot too. And like an just kind of throwing off the yoke of shame is very difficult. It can be very difficult. That’s a really hard one for people.


David Duchovny  38:33

It’s also you’re in the public eye, you know, so it just seems multiplied when when that’s happening or.


Samantha Bee  38:42

Well also because people want to reach out and they want to put shame on you. Like very actively want you want you to feel ashamed or they want to like share their own feelings of shame with you. And we’re really spread it around. You have to be very there has to be pretty careful with your own heart and your mind. Try to stay strong but you’re going to feel it it goes in you just have to.


David Duchovny  39:09

It’s such a it’s a hard feeling to deal with. Guilt is one thing I guess, but shame is another.


Samantha Bee  39:16

Shame is another, shame as other.


David Duchovny  39:18

Shame is more of like it’s like you’re being guilt is over maybe something you did something you said an action that you can maybe apologize for seek forgiveness, atone for it, whatever. But shame is more like you are bad.


Samantha Bee  39:33

You are just overall bad. You’re looking at you repeating these choices like what? Look at you, you even.


David Duchovny  39:41

Panic about what you were going to order for dinner. How shameful.


Samantha Bee  39:46

How shameful. Jesus sitting in a cold room, eating a brick.


David Duchovny  39:53

I’ve done it. I can see.


Samantha Bee  39:57

I think it’s very convenient. You can just slice it these little quadrants. Cube nutrition cubes in my lunchbox. Do you why did you tell me about why you decided to start directing? I feel like that is that is next level organization. Next level decision making.


David Duchovny  40:24

Oh, no, no. See, here’s the great thing about directing, and some.


Samantha Bee  40:28

Tell me.


David Duchovny  40:28

Yeah, you’re I feel like you’ll have to direct at some point very soon, like tomorrow.


Samantha Bee  40:35

We’ll get into that when you get into that, yes.


David Duchovny  40:38

I will. Before I directed my first film 20 years ago, whatever. I read a book by Walter Murch, who was a brilliant editor, he edited all those 70s movies that you love. And he became a director himself. But he said, because when I was prepping this movie, like you just said, I was thinking, I’ve got to make a million decisions. This is not my best strength here. I’ve got to know everything. And then I read this quote from merch, where he said, The director is the immune system of the film. And I realized, all I have to do is stand like a hockey goalie, you’re Canadian, I’ll try. And I’ll tell you that you can understand.


Samantha Bee  41:18

Now I apprehend.


David Duchovny  41:20

And everybody working on the film has got a puck that they want to put in the goal like production designer, actors, the writer. And it’s been it’s my job to go good idea paths, bad idea, stop. I’m protecting the health of the movie. But all I need to say is yes and no, I don’t need to know it. I just need to have my gut to say yes and no.


Samantha Bee  41:42

I think that’s good. So you’re more a curator of other people’s thoughts and ideas.


David Duchovny  41:50

If you hire correctly. If you have the balls to hire people that are better than you do.


Samantha Bee  41:59

I like to surround myself with people who are much better than me and everything. Do you do that?


David Duchovny  42:04

I I want to, you know. Yeah, I don’t know. I think it’s a good trait. And somebody it’s a very strong trait. I don’t know if I have it, but I fantasize that I have.


Samantha Bee  42:19

Are you good at knowing what you don’t know? And being willing to admit it?


David Duchovny  42:25

Oh, yeah.


Samantha Bee  42:26

That’s good.


David Duchovny  42:27

Yeah, I don’t mind being wrong. I can be wrong.


Samantha Bee  42:30

To you, okay I did, I read that you consider yourself a lazy vegetarian. Are you still a lazy vegetarian? You read a book, you read diet for new America in college, and it changed your life? How did it change your life? Because I just talked to Nick Offerman and we talked all about, like, where food comes from? When I was, I’m so curious.


David Duchovny  42:55

It was it was the suffering of the animals that really got to me.


Samantha Bee  42:59



David Duchovny  43:00

I, I mean, I look around at the world and I see it as, as it’s Doggy Dog. You know, it’s clear to me that most life goes on by ingesting other life, you know, it’s plant or animal. I mean, obviously, that’s the way it goes. That’s the way I had set up by whoever set it up, or whatever set it up. So until we transplant our consciousness into AI’s that don’t need to eat, we’re going to be stuck in this position. So I’m not against people. I don’t think it’s morally wrong to eat living things. It’s just, I felt the suffering and the hardship that we put these very intelligent animals through was, I just couldn’t stomach it literally. And, you know, of course, that revelation got weaker and weaker as I got older, and, you know, I got lazy. But I think, you know, in the future, I’ve often said that this, have this thought when you know, where we go. We’ve kind of had this rage of, of holding artists more morally, from other generations morally, you know, to our standards, or it’s very tough, very difficult to ask people from the 19th century to adhere to what we believe in but, I’ve I’ve often thought that it’s possible that in the future, they might say, yeah, Samantha Bee, she was brilliant. She was a meat eater.


Samantha Bee  44:42

She talked about it openly. We think that is.


David Duchovny  44:45

We don’t want to we can’t look at her stuff, because all I see is the blood coming out of her mouth.


Samantha Bee  44:52

She constantly smelled like sausage. I’m sure of it.


David Duchovny  44:57

And I don’t think that’s too far fetched. I think it’s impossible word.


Samantha Bee  45:01

I do think people would become more sweet smelling in the future. Nevermind, I was I retract that statement. They won’t. But there is I’ve definitely mean, I just, you know, my world of just talking to so many political people. And I’ve met so many of them who were like, I only eat meat, I only hard sausages once every two days, like they’re just so their world is so like, I work constantly for 27 hours, then I take a sausage break, then I sleep for four days. And then I wake up and I do it all again. And you’re like, no wonder where,


David Duchovny  45:42

You’re a bear.


Samantha Bee  45:43

You’re just a gross.


David Duchovny  45:45

I think, you know, it’s just hard to it’s hard to brood on the suffering in the world. I mean, there’s enough suffering of humans and we as humans tend to think we give such what’s the word? Emphasis on human suffering, like that’s it, that’s what we should be thinking about only human suffering. But if you were to open yourself up to the animal suffering and what we’re what we’re doing to the planet and all that stuff, it’s just it’s, it’s impossible. It’s, it’s paralyzing.


Samantha Bee  46:22

It’s so much grief. See, just carve out your little slice of it.


David Duchovny  46:26

We’re gonna win. We’re gonna win.


Samantha Bee  46:28

Okay, before, okay, what you do literally do so many different artistic things. We’ve talked about your impulsiveness. And how there’s no like, 10 year plan and how really could there be because things happen and things change and things like intrigue you all the time. What outside of your creative world is like, gripping you.


David Duchovny  46:59

Say, I don’t know, I’m really bad at hobbies. I’m I feel bad about that. I feel guilty about not having a hobby. I mean, you know, the music was supposed to be a hobby. And then I started being an idiot and recording, you know, songs like, you know, sharing with other people, so I don’t know, what do I enjoy. I mean, I enjoy uou know, I like to keep moving. I like being athletic in whatever ways I can still be.


Samantha Bee  47:29

You’ve had to cut your sleeves off your shirt. You’re working out so much.


David Duchovny  47:34

So Hulk.


Samantha Bee  47:37

I would just have laughed so hard if you were like, I’m just really into competitive bodybuilding. I had to go all new shirts.


David Duchovny  47:48

I am and it’s not even the muscles that I like. It’s more the color that I get that deep bar and.


Samantha Bee  47:55

That’s why you have a high quality girlfriend. She comes with the roller brush, it’s you orange and glasses you.


David Duchovny  48:03

Make me shiny.


Samantha Bee  48:04

Make you shiny, don’t drink water for three days. You just go flex on a stage of the sport. Oh, Garia or wherever for? I don’t know. Okay, I’m so thankful that you said yes yo me that your talk today.


David Duchovny  48:21

I’ll say yes to do anytime, anywhere and I want to just plug one thing, my movie that I directed Bucky Fucking Dent from my novel is coming out in June. And it’s a small independent film. It’s not going to have a lot of money for advertising. It’s only going to have me flapping my gums wherever I can. And but it’s, I’m really proud of it. I’m really happy with it. And I really hope that people some people can see that.


Samantha Bee  48:55

Okay, we need to go see Bucky Fucking Dent, you know what we need to just like writ large need to support independent cinema. Because it’s critical. We just have there’s just too many conglomerates making content. And if we want interesting stories, we actually it’s our job as consumers to explore. Like, smaller scale storytelling.


David Duchovny  49:25

Yeah, I mean, it’s smaller scale, but it’s it’s like the ideas are can be buried in a small movie, you know? And that’s, that’s that’s what I think we’re, you know, we’ve kind of forgotten that we think these these movies have to be have to look so big in order to be big, but.


Samantha Bee  49:45

I wish they would just take the budget of one. I mean, a lot of people are saying this now, but I do have felt it forever. Take the budget of one superhero movie and make 50 independent movies.


David Duchovny  49:57

Yeah, yeah. Head of Warner Brothers did that that would be a really interesting move.


Samantha Bee  50:03

It would be a very interesting move, it would be the correct move. It’s like building people crave. People crave stories. They don’t crave movies written by eight different people and an AI bot. They really don’t know in my opinion, anyway.


David Duchovny  50:24

I agree.


Samantha Bee  50:25

Thank you so much. All right.


David Duchovny  50:28

Yeah, there you go.


Samantha Bee  50:29

This was awesome. Have a great day.


David Duchovny  50:31

See you again.


Samantha Bee  50:31

So nice, always a pleasure.

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