David Duchovny never gets used to seeing himself naked on screen.

"I just think it's embarrassing to be naked in front of a lot of people," says the actor. "I guess I'm a bit prudish in a way. I wish I wasn't - I wish I could let my freak flag fly a little more."

Duchovny was speaking to reporters earlier this week on the set of his delicious dark comedy "Californication," which returns for a second season in September on Showtime and in Canada on the Movie Network and Movie Central.

Duchovny stars as Hank Moody, a brilliant if troubled novelist trying to hold on to his wife and child while battling all the distractions and temptations of Hollywood. The first season found Hank up to all sorts of sexual hijinks, even though, as Duchovny maintains, the show is really about "this guy's quest to pull his family together."

He says that now that Hank is back together with his wife Karen (played by Natascha McElhone) and daughter Becca (young Canadian actress Madeleine Martin), other characters on the show will take up most of the sex slack.

The former "X-Files" star - who goes back in character as special agent Fox Mulder in the upcoming feature "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" (in theatres July 25)-says there is a basic problem with shooting sex scenes: "Sex is a ridiculous looking behaviour," he says, adding, "if done correctly."

Which is just fine for "Californication," he says. The adult cable show is, after all, a comedy.

"We don't do sex to turn you on in this show," he says, speaking for the rest of the cast as well as series creator Tom Kapinos. "That's not the way we approach it. We approach it as the ridiculous human behaviour that it is."

Duchovny is only half kidding.

"For me, theoretically, sex is ridiculous because you're driven to do it. Once a human being is out of control it becomes funny. To me that's the essence of comedy - it's when you're driven to do something that you don't necessarily want to do."

This may come as a shock to Duchovny's actress wife Tea Leoni, to say nothing of their two children. Duchovny just thinks the sex act itself is, as he said before, "funny looking."

A pause.

"When I do it it's funny looking."

None of the female foreign press reporters at the session were buying it. Sure, sex was very serious when he was younger, he says.

"That's how we go, isn't it? As we mature, everything becomes more and more ridiculous. Gone from serious to comic," he says, looking around the room. "I'm just talking about performance here."

A performance he's happy to talk about is getting back under the skin of his old "X-Files" character, Fox Mulder.

"Mulder is as old as I am - he always will be," says Duchovny, 47. He was 32 when he started playing the special agent on the paranormal series, which ended a nine-season run in 2002.

For "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," he says there was no effort to make the character "the same guy he was in 1993."

Duchovny says "The X-Files" was his "sixth or seventh job" at the time and that he's a much better actor now. He also feels he can bring some of what he has learned playing Hank Moody to his old role, although he cautions that the new "X-Files" movie is not a comedy.

"It's more skewed toward horror, a throwback to the first couple of years on the show," he says.

He says he hopes to do another "X-Files" film with creator Chris Carter and co-star Gillian Anderson. He sees Mulder as cut from the same iconic cloth as Indiana Jones or James Bond, two other characters allowed to mature over time. "I like the way they've aged," he says.

Duchovny, of course, says he didn't set out to make Mulder iconic. "I try to make every role iconic," he says. "I just fail most of the time."


Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont. He was a guest of the Movie Network and Movie Central while on the set of "Californication" in Los Angeles.

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