What Did David Duchovny Study at Princeton University?

Very few shows have the insanely huge, dedicated fan base of The X-Files. The sci-fi series is a pop culture icon–millions of people still have that “I Want to Believe” poster hanging somewhere in their homes (perhaps in their basement office). 

The series became an instant hit because of it was unlike anything else on TV at the time. Fans loved the unique plots, but even more so, the phenomenal acting from the show’s starring duo. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson so beautifully personified their characters that it’s absolutely impossible to imagine anyone else in those roles. It’s also hard to imagine that David Duchovny almost went down a totally different career path

Who is David Duchovny?

David Duchovny
David Duchovny | Ollie Millington/Redferns

David Duchovny was born and raised in New York. He was always academically gifted, and spent his high school years at Collegiate School. Duchovny excelled at the prestigious school, where his classmates included John F. Kennedy Jr. He was the valedictorian at his graduation, and had plans to become a college professor one day.

According to Best Life, Duchovny graduated summa cum laude from Princeton. He received a degree in English Literature and then attended Yale to get his Ph. D., but never finished his thesis. During his time at Yale, he discovered a love for acting. 

He originally went into acting as a part-time way to finance his education, but the life of an actor seemed far more appealing than that of a teacher. His first gig was a commercial for Lowenbrau beer, and soon he had made his way to the big screen with a one-liner in the 1988 film, Working Girl. His charm and good looks caught several eyes in Hollywood, and he began to get more offers. 

He appeared in a few more films in the late 80s and early 90s, and in 1993 he starred alongside Brad Pitt in Kalifornia. He took a role in the cult phenomenon Twin Peaks, playing a cross-dressing FBI agent–and that’s when he really grabbed people’s attention. His stellar performance in Twin Peaks led to the biggest role of his career…

Aliens, government conspiracies, and that basement office…

In 1993, Duchovny started the role that would make him instantly recognizable all around the world. FOX launched its surprise sci-fi smash, The X-Files. Duchovny portrayed FBI agent Fox Mulder, a character that he will be known for throughout pop culture history. 

The X-Files followed Fox Mulder and Dana Scully through a barrage of cases full of unbelievable, unexplained phenomena. The partners were exact opposites — Mulder was the believer, spurred to his endless investigations of the supernatural after his sister’s disappearance. Scully was the pessimist, always believing there was a scientific explanation for everything (and perpetually rolling her eyes at Mulder’s naive acceptance of the paranormal). 

Duchovny played his character to perfection. He embodied Fox Mulder in a way no one else could. His dogged determination, open mindedness, and captivating looks stunned audiences (especially women). The show became a massive hit all over the world and gained legions of followers. Mulder inspired even the most pessimistic of viewers, and made us all “want to believe.” 

What did he do after ‘The X-Files’?

In 2000, Duchovny decided to leave The X-Files. The show ran for two more seasons without him, replacing him with a new partner–John Doggett–for Scully. Fans were in an uproar, many agreeing that the show just wasn’t the same without him. 

In 2016, those same fans were enthralled to hear that a reboot was coming. Not only that, but Fox Mulder was going to be a part of it. Although it wasn’t quite as good as the original series, the short reboot was pretty awesome. Once again, Mulder and Scully teamed up against the Cigarette-Smoking Man and his minions. 

So what did Duchovny do with that 16 years between working on The X-Files? He continued to work in movies and television, sometimes taking a role behind the camera as well as in front of it. He had directed several episodes of The X-Files, and he later starred and directed in Californication and Aquarius.

He directed his first film, the 2004 coming-of-age House of D. Duchovny also starred in the film with legendary actor Robin Williams. He’s also done voice work for video games, including Area 51–fittingly, a game about government conspiracies and aliens. He most recently appeared in The Craft: Legacy, a sequel to the popular 1990 film about witches. 

RELATED: ‘The X-Files’: David Duchovny Once Sued Fox While Filming the Series