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David Duchovny Reveals the Real-Life Stories Behind his Movie ‘Bucky F*cking Dent’

The ‘X-Files’ star explains his Tribeca Festival ode to father-son bonding


spinner image David Duchovny at the Los Angeles Premiere of You People held at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles
Photo by: Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images

On June 10, The X-Files star David Duchovny, 62, presents Bucky F*cking Dent, his first film as a director, writer and star since 2004’s House of D, at New York’s prestigious Tribeca Festival. It’s his adaptation of his own critically acclaimed novel of the same title. AARP asked him about his life, how The X-Files affected him and how he got the story he tells in his film.

Your film and book are about an Ivy grad (Logan Marshall-Green) who slings peanuts at Yankee Stadium to fund his novel-writing art. You play his estranged dad, Marty, a fan of the Yankees’ rival Red Sox who has terminal cancer. You’re a baseball fan, novelist and Princeton and Yale grad. Does the film sync with your life? What inspired it?

It came from an amalgamation of inspirations. It never comes to me fully formed. A glimmer of an idea I let hang around, and then it attaches to other ideas, almost like molecules, and then all of a sudden I start to see a story.

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So it began as an idea about a parent and child and illness. How did it become an ode to father-son bonding, New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox rivalry and Yankee ballplayer Bucky Dent, whose historic, unlikely 1978 World Series home run beat the Red Sox, causing bitter Boston fans to dub him “Bucky f—ing Dent?”

One day on the roof in Massachusetts, I heard someone say “Bucky f---ing Dent!” These things started to cohere. I started to see father-son. Ideas start to attract one another, reach critical mass. I thought, “Oh, I can see an arc here of a full story.” Disparate ideas that join them together.

spinner image David Duchovny sitting in a desk chair with a I Want to Believe poster nearby him in the background
David Duchovny in "The X-Files."
FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

What impact did The X-Files have on you?

It was pivotal for my career. Personally and professionally, it was an explosion for me. I went from a guy bouncing around from movie to movie, guest star to guest star, to a weirdly global phenomenon, more than any other English language show at that point.

Did it affect you as a writer and creative artist?

Technically, it was a very demanding show. I learned a lot about tech filmmaking from facile directors who essentially made a full movie in eight days. Outward-looking, its effect on me and my life was immense; inward-looking, I learned a hell of a lot as an actor and as a filmmaker. I’d never thought about the wonderful limitations of the form of TV. That was really good for me. I do better with structure, artistically, than I do with total freedom.

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spinner image Shaggy on stage during the 2023 Tribeca Festival
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival

Can’t attend the Tribeca Festival in Manhattan? You can watch its movies from your couch in the Tribeca At Home Festival (June 19-July 2). Duchovny’s movie doesn’t have a distributor yet, but you can see films like hearing-impaired Oscar-winner Troy Kotsur’s short To My Father and the feature documentaries Comedy of War: Laughter in Ukraine and Rolling Along, about basketball star turned presidential candidate Bill Bradley. You can access the festival on Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV and through a standalone app on iOS and Android.

What do you think is the value of film festivals like Tribeca, as theatrical appears to be waning?

My film is independently financed — no safety net like studios and streamers have. There’s no way for me to play it in front of an audience to see the communal experience a film deserves. To hear the laughter and the crying. This is what movies do — and they don’t do that when you’re sitting alone in your house. A 900-seat theater at Tribeca provides a real communal experience. You’ll never get that again. I used to pooh-pooh my movie premieres. Now I regret it because there’s something very different watching your film with an audience. Plus its exposure to people who will distribute my film. This is how it should play.

You’re an actor, director, producer, writer, father, son, cultural icon and singer-songwriter whose band performs at Tribeca before your film screens — how do they all fit together?

It feels all integrated to me. It’s all coming out of me. What’s come to the fore with writing and music is the Zen mind. It’s healthy and wondrous to approach it with the beginner’s mind. In writing this novel, that was the case. I opened up to creativity that feels authentic to me. When I go back to music or acting, if I approach it as a kid again, that’s actually the most mature way to do it.

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