David Duchovny Recalls Losing Out on Roles of 3 Male Leads on ‘Full House’

David Duchovny experienced a lot of rejection before he found fame on The X-Files.

The actor, 63, revealed in a recent episode of his Fail Better podcast that when he was first auditioning for roles, he thought he was going to land a major part on Full House. Duchovny said he went up for all three male characters — a.k.a. Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos) and Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier) — but didn’t get the outcome he expected.

“At first, they had me for, I think, the dad,” he recalled. “And then, they had me for the Stamos character. And then, they had me for the other guy. I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to get one of these, and it’s going to change my life.’”

David Duchovny.

Bleecker Street


When he didn’t land any of them, Duchovny kept trying with other auditions. He was still new to the acting scene but was determined to make a name for himself in Hollywood.

“I had plenty of those pilots that I went up for when I was first out in L.A. and I thought each one was going to be the break,” he said. “I just needed to be able to pay my rent, too. That was an important thing because I just wanted a job.”

He later added, “When I moved to L.A., I didn’t get so many shows, I can’t tell you how many shows I didn’t get.”

After gaining more experience, the Californication star admitted he didn’t think he was right for the roles he had been trying out for, including on Full House. 

“I was really bad at that kind of stuff,” Duchovny explained. “I did not know how to do that sitcom stuff. I don’t know what they were thinking, that they thought I was going to exist in that world. I mean, I guess I could have learned, but I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t ready for that kind of energetic performance that they need.”

In 1993, Duchovny finally scored the lead role in The X-Files, which propelled him into near-instant fame and later earned him an Emmy award. The show lasted nine seasons before ending in 2002, and it later came back for a reboot from 2016 to 2018.

Gillian Anderson (left) and David Duchovny (right).

20th Century Fox Film Corp


His rocky path to success is what inspired him to start his podcast and call it Fail Better, where he interviews other big names in entertainment and has them share their own stories.

“It’s not about reveling in the shame of it all,” Duchovny said. “It’s about the true hurt of it and the response after the hurt. How do you go ahead in your life stronger and not debilitated by the wound of a big failure?”

Since the ‘90s, Duchovny has done several movies and TV shows, such as Will & Grace, Sex and the City, Shameless and Phantom of the Opera.

Most recently, he tackled a more intense character in Reverse the Curse, which premiered June 14. He not only starred in the film but also directed it. The premise was adapted from his 2016 novel Bucky F*cking Dent, about a complex father-son relationship.

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All 11 seasons of The X-Files are available to stream on Hulu. Fail Better, a production of Lemonada Media, is available for listening on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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