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David Duchovny on how The X-Files: Cold Cases 'embraced the humor' of the show

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Ed Araquel/FOX

The FBI’s most unwanted agents are back on the case.

In new audio drama The X-Files: Cold Cases, available today on Audible, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their iconic roles as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who are pulled back into the field when a data breach at FBI headquarters gives a mysterious group access to their old case files. And the resulting investigation brings them into contact with a number of old friends: In addition to Duchovny and Anderson, original cast members Mitch Pileggi (FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner), William B. Davis (the Cigarette Smoking Man), and Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, and Bruce Harwood (the Lone Gunmen) all return.

“Since we started 24 years ago, there have been so many iterations of the show and so many different kinds of expressions of the show,” Duchovny tells EW. “I remember way back when, I was so pleased that there was a comic book. Like, ‘Oh my god, it’s a comic book for The X-Files! Now I can retire.’”

It’s fitting, then, that Cold Cases is based on a series of graphic novels by Joe Harris, with creative direction from X-Files creator Chris Carter. The stories were adapted for audio by producer Dirk Maggs, who will appear with Duchovny on a July 22 panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

In advance of that panel, EW caught up with Duchovny to get the scoop on what it was like to reimagine Mulder’s dry humor over audio.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How was this project pitched to you?
DAVID DUCHOVNY: As technology progresses, as the way in which people purchase and digest a product has changed, now I’m no longer surprised at whatever form a beloved show, or a show that people want to see, takes. Also, the last few years, I’ve kind of gotten into podcasts myself, and even though this is not quite a podcast, it feels a little like that… So it just made sense to me. When it was pitched to me I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea.’ It reminded me of — I also will sometimes listen to old-time radio programming in my car, you know, old-time serials like The Shadow, shows like that. Even though I’m not quite that old that I grew up listening to them. But if for some reason my car is tuned into the station, it’s kind of riveting. It’s in between an audiobook and a radio play.

Were you familiar with the particular comics that this audiobook is based on?
No, I’m happy that there are comics, but I’ve never read them. But I was impressed by the writing and the grasp of the character. The truth of the matter is there really haven’t been that many writers on The X-Files over the 24 years. Even going into this new season, it’s a lot of the same people, which is a testament to Chris’ loyalty and his taste, really. Once you venture out of that, I certainly would be afraid sometimes that people wouldn’t get it. But I think they had a really good grasp of the character and of the kinds of stories, of the humor, which is another challenge to do when it’s just your voice and it’s not your full expressive repertoire.

Did that change your approach to Mulder as a character at all?
A little bit… You tend to, I don’t want to say over-act, but you tend to maybe push a little harder, because your voice is really the only thing that’s going to carry whatever it is that you’re trying to express. The best part of it is that I didn’t have to memorize all that crap [Laughs]. I can just read it right off the page and sound like an intelligent person.

Obviously The X-Files continues to be relevant in 2017. Was there anything about this story that felt especially timely to you?
I think the science is up to date, and that was always one of the interesting things about The X-Files. As science has progressed in the last 24 years, as technology has progressed, obviously, in the last 24 years, a show like The X-Files was able to embrace that and even push it a little further into what may be coming in the next five or 10 years. I think that’s one of the reasons why a show like The X-Files has continued on. The last movie that we did [The X-Files: I Want to Believe] in 2008, that was a head transplant! Or an attempted head transplant. Which sounds ridiculous, and you laugh, and I laugh when I say the term “head transplant,” but at this point, I don’t think it’s very far off. So we go from ridiculous science fiction to science.

You’ve talked in the past about how easy it is for you to slip back into character when you’re acting opposite Gillian Anderson. How was it recording as Mulder when you weren’t opposite Gillian?
It’s very similar. I mean, at this point, [Mulder is] a character that I can just kind of feel physically in and of myself. And if the writing is in character, if the writing makes sense character-wise, then it’s easy. And I think what these guys got was, they embraced the humor that Mulder can bring, so I’m always gung-ho for that. It was a different challenge to be able to do it — I could never have a deadpan humorous side to him. The deadpan is taken away from me on audio. So I guess he may be a little less deadpan to sell whatever jokes are coming his way.

Did you have any recording sessions with other cast members, or was it all solo?
All solo. All three blocks from my house. They couldn’t have made it easier for me. The directors and producers that I worked with were super energetic and into it. It can get a little airless if it’s just you sitting in a room reading stuff, so they were very smart. They know how to keep the energy up.

Chris Sanders

The X-Files: Cold Cases is available for download now at Audible.com/xfiles. Listen to a clip of Duchovny and Pileggi above, and see a photo of Duchovny in the studio.