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David Duchovny on Zalman King

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Red Shoe Diaries
Everett Collection

When a pre-X-Files David Duchovny was hired by filmmaker Zalman King ( 9 1/2 Weeks, Wild Orchid, Two Moon Junction) for the Showtime series Red Shoe Diaries, he admits he was a bit on the inexperienced side. “As an actor I was terrible. I was green and I didn’t know it, and he didn’t tell me — which is good. I was blissfully ignorant of my own limitations,” laughs Duchovny. “Zalman just filled me with confidence. When he told me I was great, I believed it, and I started to make my way towards getting better as an actor. For a guy on his first or second job, I couldn’t have been luckier to have a man as generous as him.”

King, who died on Feb. 3 at the age of 70, left a lasting impression on Duchovny. “Zalman really had the soul of an artist,” says the Californication star. “He was an original, he was an eccentric, and most of all he was an enthusiast. He was excited about his work and he could make us all feel like we were doing something special. In order to go to work in the morning and commit to what you do, you have to believe it’s worth something. Zalman was able to infuse his sets and his actors with that kind of feeling — that we were doing something special. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Duchovny says that that King never received enough respect. “It doesn’t matter now, and it probably didn’t matter then,” he says. “I’ve worked with a lot of people that get respect and they weren’t the artist that Zalman was. I use the word artist reservedly because it’s thrown around, like genius, way too much. But that was his soul. That’s the place where he came from. I don’t think people understand that. They say this or that about Red Shoes or whatever, and they pigeonhole him in that [erotica] area but it’s not who he was. He was way more concerned with the color of the drapes than showing any T&A.”