Not My Job: 'X-Files' Star David Duchovny Gets Quizzed On Famous Exes

Feb 20, 2018
Originally published on February 17, 2018 11:37 am

When The X-Files first came out, the show's challenge was to make it seem believable that the government was really perpetrating deep, dark conspiracies. Now that it's back, the challenge is coming up with plots more sinister than the actual news.

David Duchovny stars as Agent Fox Mulder on The X-Files, so we thought we'd ask him to play a game called The Real Ex-Files: three questions about tumultuous public divorces.

Click the listen link above to see how he does.

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And now the game where really well-known people are asked about things they have never heard of. When "The X-Files" first came out on TV, the show's challenge was to make it seem believable that the government was really perpetrating deep, dark conspiracies. Now that it's back, the challenge is coming up with plots more sinister than the actual news. The star of the show joins us now. David Duchovny, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.



SAGAL: I - this is an amazing thing. I found this out. I did not know this about you, even though, obviously, I'm watching it on TV and many other things for a long time - that you were an English major. You even got an advanced degree in English.

DUCHOVNY: No. I was actually - I was in a Ph.D. program getting - at Yale. I was going to be an English professor at some university somewhere. That was not to be.

SAGAL: No. And what happened? I mean, was it, like, somebody said to you, man, English majors never get a job. And you're like, I'll get into something more stable like acting.


DUCHOVNY: Yeah. The odds were too good in English.


SAGAL: Yeah, I know. So very quickly, since you and I both were interested in this at a certain time - very quickly before we move on, what is truth?

DUCHOVNY: I don't know what truth is. But I do know it's out there.


SAGAL: Nice segue. So you were already a working actor. You had done some things. And they came to you. And what did you think when you first heard about this new show "The X-Files?" I'm told that you didn't - were not certain it was going to succeed.

DUCHOVNY: No. I was certain it wouldn't succeed, which is why I wanted to do it.

SAGAL: Oh, really? You were like, this is going to be crazy. It'll last a season. I'll be gone.

DUCHOVNY: Yes. I thought, well, there's no way. Either you show them an alien at some point, and then it's over. Or you don't show them an alien, and they get irritated. And they go...


SAGAL: What was weird was I cannot remember a show, certainly during that period of time, that became more central to the zeitgeist. Like, you were - was a science-fiction TV show that speculated there were aliens and deep, dark government conspiracies of every kind and various kinds of monsters or supernatural creatures. And everybody was, like, reacting to it as if it were, like, "60 Minutes." And like, this is true.


DUCHOVNY: Yes. Well, people still to this day - I think in the beginning of the show, the idea was that there were actually things called X-files that the government had tucked away in some big cabinet somewhere that only these two intrepid agents were investigating. Though, I think people - even now we live in a world where a lot of people believe in these extreme conspiracies. I hate to think that I contributed to that, to be honest with you.

SAGAL: What's amazing to me is that people think that the government really does have these secret files called X-files and their deep, dark secrets. And the only way that people found out was this incredibly popular TV show, which described all of it.


MO ROCCA: Have you ever done a musical?


ROCCA: I was just sort of curious.

DUCHOVNY: I haven't. But I have a new album of music out just this past Friday.

SAGAL: Well, yes. That was what I was working up to because...

ROCCA: Oh, I had no idea.


ROCCA: I've never seen "The X-Files."

SAGAL: You're actually - I mean, it's remarkable because you're an obviously - an extremely successful actor, we have discussed. You have an advanced degree in English. You're a novelist. And you are also a musician. You - what is the name of your band?

DUCHOVNY: Oh, I thought you said magician. I was like, oh, I'll take it. The name of my band is called David Duchovny.



SAGAL: Clever.

ROCCA: What does your music sound like?

DUCHOVNY: Well, you're going to have to spend $9.99 on iTunes.


SAGAL: This man doesn't work for free, ladies and gentlemen.

SALIE: Hey, David. My son is in kindergarten. And on the wall of his school is your name on a sign that says head boy. And I was wondering if you could give me some tips so that my son can, too, grow up to be head boy of his school.

SAGAL: So wait a minute...

DUCHOVNY: I thought you were going to say some tips so that he does not have to be called head boy.

SAGAL: So this is a school in Manhattan...


SAGAL: ...That, presumably, Mr. Duchovny here attended.



SAGAL: And you were, in fact, head boy?

SALIE: His name's on the wall.

DUCHOVNY: It was awarded on graduation day to one of the senior boys. So it was just the one award that school gave. I still think they only give one award.

SALIE: It's a big honor. He's being modest. It's a huge honor.

SAGAL: The head boy - so you were, like, the best guy.

DUCHOVNY: Yeah - 1978 head boy.



SAGAL: So in a weird way, your entire successful career in literature and the arts and performing has all been trying to live up to that challenge.

DUCHOVNY: Well, I will say that your son is at a great school. And you're not saying the name, so I guess I won't say the name. I'm not sure why we're being so cagey about it.


ROCCA: It's Rikers Island prep.


SAGAL: I'm going to ask you one last question before we go to the game. You've done so many things. You've written novels...

DUCHOVNY: Oh this wasn't the game?

SAGAL: No. No. No.


SAGAL: If I said, David Duchovny, you can only do one more thing - act, write, play music - what would it be?

DUCHOVNY: I never understand that question. Who's making up that law...


DUCHOVNY: ...That someone has to decide what they want to do.

SALIE: Just say head boy.

DUCHOVNY: Thank you. I believe that's true. I want to be head boy.

SAGAL: There you go.


SAGAL: And, sir, you are. Well, David Duchovny, it is a pleasure to talk to you. We've invited you here to play a game we're calling...

BILL KURTIS: ...The Real Ex-Files.

SAGAL: We never figured out what the X in that TV show stood for. But in our case, it stands for ex-spouse. We're going to ask you three questions about tumultuous breakups and divorces. Answer two questions correctly, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of anybody they like from our show on their voicemail telling them they never went to see them again.


SAGAL: Bill, who is David Duchovny playing for?

KURTIS: Erin Byers of Atlanta, Ga.

SAGAL: All right. Ready to do this?

DUCHOVNY: Yeah, I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right. Here's your first question. A doctor on Long Island some years ago named Richard Batista divorced his wife. And in the process of the divorce, as they were separating their property, he demanded she give up what? A, her collection of rare and still-in-the-box "Star Wars" action figures; B, all memories of their time together via electroshock therapy or C, his kidney, which he had donated to her?

DUCHOVNY: Oh, that's - they're all so good.

SAGAL: Yeah.

DUCHOVNY: I'm going to say the kidney.

SAGAL: You're right.




SAGAL: It became known as the kidney divorce. He demanded either the kidney back or cash compensation for his donation. He got none of it.

DUCHOVNY: What a (expletive).

SAGAL: Yeah.


DUCHOVNY: That's not head boy language right there.

SAGAL: Yeah, I know.


SAGAL: Take that away from you, man. Next question - actress Janeane Garofalo's divorce from writer...

DUCHOVNY: Janeane.

SAGAL: Janeane - sorry. Excuse me.


DUCHOVNY: I got that one right. Yay.


SAGAL: Excuse me - Janeane - her marriage - Janeane Garofalo's divorce from writer Rob Cohen after 20 years of marriage was particularly unusual. Why? A, they had no idea they had been married to each other for 20 years; B, instead of selling their house, they just built a wall down the middle so they could both live in it or C, they each ended up marrying each other's divorce lawyer.

DUCHOVNY: Oh, my. Those are not good results, none of them.


DUCHOVNY: I'm going to go with the wall.

SAGAL: You're going to go with wall. No. That's been done but not by them. What happened to them was they had been dating 20 years ago. There were in Vegas. They got drunk. They decided to get married as a joke. And then 20 years later, when Rob was going to get married for real, they found out it hadn't been a joke.


SAGAL: So they'd been legally married for 20 years and didn't know. They had to get to it annulled.

ROCCA: How was that not a rom-com?

SAGAL: It's really funny.


LIZ MIELE: That she is in (laughter).

ROCCA: Yeah. Right, exactly.

SAGAL: Well, you've got 1 out of 2 with one to go. If you get this right, you win. Elon Musk's ex-wife recently wrote about their marriage for Marie Claire magazine. She says she should have taken it for a warning sign when, at their wedding, he said to her what? A, so you're never going to turn 30, right? - B, next time I get married, I'm picking the flowers or C, I am the alpha in this relationship.

ROCCA: The first one is so good in that it's horrible.

DUCHOVNY: Yeah. They're all pretty bad.


DUCHOVNY: I think the alpha.

SAGAL: You're right. That's what he said.


SAGAL: It's Elon Musk.


SAGAL: She also said to him at a later point in their marriage, I feel like I'm not your spouse. I'm your employee. And he said, if you were my employee, I'd fire you. Bill, how did David Duchovny do on our quiz?

KURTIS: David dipped into the ex-files to come up with a win, 2 out of 3.


DUCHOVNY: David Duchovny's new album is called "Every Third Thought." It is out now anywhere you get your music. David Duchovny, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.


DUCHOVNY: Thank you for having me.

SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing. Great to talk to you. Good luck.

DUCHOVNY: Thank you.


SAGAL: In just a minute, bad news about your Frappuccino in our Listener Limerick challenge. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.