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Why David Duchovny Was Willing To Reprise His X-Files Speedo For New Netflix Show With Sandra Oh

David Duchovny wears a red Speedo on The Chair.

David Duchovny wears a red Speedo on The Chair

No matter what David Duchovny does in his career, many fans will always think of him as Fox Mulder from The X-Files — the passionate FBI agent always in pursuit of the truth. But he’s also shown over the years that he’s not afraid to go to the extreme for the sake of comedy (see: all of Californication, any cameo where he plays himself). In the new Netflix series The Chair, David Duchovny resurrected one particularly memorable moment from The X-Files in a scene with series star Sandra Oh by donning a red Speedo. You know the one. It's right above.

For a character like Mulder who rarely was seen wearing anything but work attire, it’s no mystery why seeing him in a red Speedo would throw fans into a frenzy, but it couldn’t have been predicted how enduring the image would be after so long. David Duchovny gave The Chair showrunner Amanda Peet and star Sandra Oh the credit for the bare-chested callback and resurrection of the barely there garment, according to EW. In his words:

I think I shy away from trading on certain iconic things in my career. I feel lame doing it, plus I think nobody remembers this shit from so long ago. But Sandra is fantastic and funny, and Amanda is brilliant and funny and a good person, and she's written this great, smart show that's she's running. I'm so proud to be with her on it. If she says, 'David, jump,' I say, 'How high do you want me to jump in a red Speedo?’

That’s some pretty high praise for Amanda Peet, and shows how much trust David Duchovny had in her and former Grey's Anatomy star Sandra Oh. It’s a huge thing to put a piece of your iconography into someone’s hands, and it’s a whole other thing to wear a Speedo on camera more than 25 years after The X-Files episode in question.

For The Chair fans who might not have witnessed the scarlet Speedo's original appearance, The X-Files Season 2 episode “Duane Barry” featured Agent Krycek approaching Mulder at the FBI pool as the agent was swimming laps, to talk about assisting on a case. As Mulder emerged from the pool in that bright red Speedo, 1994 TV audiences witnessed a fashion moment on par with the lifeguards on Baywatch, just with less slowed-down bouncing.

The Chair played to that scene in Episode 5, “The Last Bus in Town,” which had Sandra Oh’s Ji-Yoon Kim visiting David Duchovny (playing a satirical version of himself) at his house to discuss an upcoming Distinguished Lecture at the university where she served as chair. Ji-Yoon’s reaction when she saw Duchovny in the Speedo was priceless (and much less subtle than Duchovny’s co-star on The X-Files), literally hiding behind a plant when Duchovny climbed out of the pool and nonchalantly asked if she was okay.

The moment was fun for fans who remembered The X-Files scene, but prior knowledge of David Duchovny’s swimwear was not required to follow his overall delightful arc on The Chair. In talking to Ji-Yoon, Duchovny casually dropped in facts about himself, his books, his band and his degrees (all true to life). Now if only The Crown's Gillian Anderson had been around as an equally satirical version of herself.

The Chair, starring Sandra Oh, is streaming now on Netflix. Be sure to check out our 2021 Fall TV schedule to keep up with the upcoming premieres of all your favorite shows.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.