Playing the character of FBI agent Denise Bryson across Twin Peaks’s original run and its 2017 limited revival, David Duchovny helped to shed some light on television’s glaring omission of LGBTQIA+ characters that aren’t brutalized or turned into a punchline. His character on Twin Peaks is played with grace and respect, and the characters that interact with Denise treat her with the same sort of dignity that Duchovny brings to the role. It’s refreshing to see, especially considering how little things have changed since Denise’s first appearance back in December of 1990.
Like Twin Peaks, Duchovny’s character on The X-Files is an FBI agent. This time, he’s playing Fox Mulder, a believer and investigator in the paranormal activity that infiltrates our daily lives. Paired alongside Gillian Anderson’s character Dana Scully, the two try to solve cases dismissed by the government as too inexplicable to handle within the mainstream of the Bureau. Duchovny reprises the role across multiple feature films and subsequent seasons of the show’s 2016 revival.
Duchovny’s third most iconic TV character is Hank Moody, a novelist from New York who heads to LA to try and cure his writer’s block. It’s definitely the seediest thing he’s ever done, with all kinds of adult themes explored in-depth, but Duchovny’s charm helps to keep things from going too far over the edge into the exploitative. Joined by the ever-hilarious Pamela Adlon and Evan Handler, Duchovny proves with Californication that the third time is definitely the charm.
A 2007 drama starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro along with David Duchovny, Things We Lost in the Fire is the first film on this list but one of the heaviest of the five roles. It’s a dark and gritty look at addiction and the toll it can take on loved ones, with Duchovny playing the counter to Del Toro’s character. Halle Berry is doing a great job, to be sure, but Duchovny really stands out here.
Written and directed by Jake Kasdan, the son of Star Wars scribe Lawrence Kasdan, The TV Set is a dramatic comedy that pokes fun at a writer’s mission to bring his TV show idea from the paper to the small screen. It’s got a great supporting cast made up of Sigourney Weaver and Judy Greer, two actors who always manage to elevate whatever project they’re working on. Duchovny’s got comedic chops, even if he doesn’t get to show them off very often.