"I think I'm nice enough to look at, but I think people make a big deal about my appearance," says actor David Duchovny.
"I think it was like hypnosis; like everybody's been trained: 'Okay, now cluck like a chicken! Okay now say David Duchovny's handsome!' I was a normal looking kid and there are always things you want to change. I just remember that I wished I were blond. And I wished my nose were smaller and my lips were smaller and my eyes were bigger You know, everything."
The actor is probably being a little hard on himself. After all, David was chosen by the US magazine People as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world in 1996. His dark handsome looks and puppy dog eyes caused the star's X-Files co-star Gillian Anderson to comment, "David's like catnip to women". He's also earned an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a post-grad from Yale. So the boy is pretty darn hot on both the looks and intelligence scale, it seems.
Born David William Duchovny in New York City on August 7, 1960, to Jewish American father Amram and Scottish mother Margaret, David proved himself academically from an early age. He won a scholarship to attend New York's prestigious Collegiate School, where his classmates included John F Kennedy Jnr, and was the class valedictorian. After high school, David enrolled at Princeton University where he majored in English Literature and was well on his way to completing a PhD at Yale when he caught the acting bug.
At first it was a lark he was just raising money to pay for his education when he landed his first commercial for Lowenbrau beer but a thespian career soon seemed far more appealing than the cloistered life of a college professor and he left academia behind him. David started his film career with a one-liner as a partygoer in 1988 Melanie Griffith vehicle Working Girl, and from there on he scored a steady flow of roles, mostly in the womaniser mould that characterized his early work.
Despite winning a supporting role in Kalifornia in 1993 alongside rising stars Brad Pitt and Juliet Lewis, David was to make his biggest impact on the small screen. He delivered a showy turn as cross-dressing FBI agent Dennis/Denise Bryson in David Lynch's Twin Peaks in 1990 and went on to star in the cable movie The Red Shoe Diaries for which he would serve as narrator in the following series.
But it was 1993's surprise hit The X-Files that put the actor on the map and made him a millionaire. David's role as Fox Mulder, an FBI agent driven to the pursuit of the paranormal by the sight of his sister being abducted by aliens as a child, suited David's wry, understated style. The result was an intelligent performance underpinned by a smouldering sensuality which won him legions of female fans around the world.
At the apex of his X-File fame, David met and fell in love with actress Tea Leoni. The couple married on May 6, 1997, in the courtyard of New York's Grace Church where David's mother worked, and have since had two children daughter Madelaine West in 1999 and son Kyd Miller three years later.
As his personal life settled down, in 2000 the actor decided to throw caution to the wind career-wise and leave The X-Files. As comfortable as he was in the Fox Mulder role, David longed to do other things and he wanted to break into cinema.
While he still hasn't secured lead status on the big screen, his prospects look good. He found a comic starring vehicle in 2001's Evolution featuring Julianne Moore, and next appeared in Hollywood golden boy Steven Soderbergh's Full Frontal, opposite Julia Roberts and Catherine Keener.
David is aware that audiences might never disassociate him from the Mulder character, but he remains ever hopeful. "I just have an abiding belief that talent will out," he said in 1998. "If I make it, then I have it; if I don't then I didn't."
With his alien-chasing days far behind him, he has so far not achieved the big screen success that he enjoyed with X-Files but he is happy to admit that the series was the high point of his career. "It has been the most successful, popular entertainment I've ever been involved with as an actor and I can't imagine ever topping that," he says.