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Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
for Radio Free Entertainment

April 6, 2005

House of D, the feature film debut of David Duchovny as a writer and director, tells the story of Tom Warshaw (Duchovny), a man who finds himself estranged from his wife and son. Determined to bridge the gap with his family, he tells them the story of his childhood in the hopes that they will understand the man that he is. The film flashes back to Tom's days as a boy (Anton Yelchin) growing up in Greenwich Village in the '70s, where his relationships with his mother (Tea Leoni), his mentally challenged best friend Pappass (Robin Williams), and an incarcerated woman (Erykah Badu) in the Women's House of Detention helped shape his character.

In this interview, Anton Yelchin talks about working with his fellow House of D cast members.

The Interview

MEDIA: With House of D's story drawing from his own childhood, did you feel that you were playing a somewhat biographical portrayal of David Duchovny?

ANTON: Before we started the film and during rehearsals, I'd ask David if he liked what I was doing, and he'd say yeah. What was in the script was what I did, and he liked it, so we never discussed how much of it should be based on David. What he told me was he delivered meat, he lived in New York in '73, and grew up in the Village. But what I liked was that David telling me about his stories in the Village kind of made me feel more at home there. That we were filming in New York, obviously, was a major part of it. But also David telling me about growing up in New York was quite helpful.

Was it easy for you to draw upon the emotions that needed to be conveyed in the film?

If you read the script, it was hard not to feel any emotion. You have to be stone cold not to feel anything. It was such a beautiful script. When I read it, it made me cry. When I read it again, it made me cry. When we were working on it, it made me cry. And everything is in the script, and that's what I was reading. And it was really touching.

What was it like working with David's wife, Tea Leoni, who plays your character's mother?

I rehearsed with Tea for a couple of days before we started. The first day I met her, we just sat around in David's office and we just rehearsed. And the next day, David and Tea and I rehearsed the scenes in the bathroom to see where the camera would be. The first day, I was a bit worried, and then the rest of the time, I just got really used to Tea, and I guess we had a good relationship in the end. I mean, I really like Tea. I think she's a great person, and I think the scenes work well.

And what was your experience of working with Robin Williams?

He is an incredible person. I think he's a genius and he's the funniest person alive. I've been watching his movies since I was like two. I think the reason it was really easy being on set with him is he's such a wonderful person. He's so open to everybody. And it seems like his goal is to make everybody happy. And it's really enlightening to watch him. First of all, I think I was so lucky to work on this movie. But also, I think everybody is so lucky that he is the way he is, aside from the kind of actor that he is.

Robin's daughter Zelda plays your character's love interest. Was that uncomfortable or awkward in any way?

I'm friends with Zelda. She's a friend of mine. So we've hung out since the movie. But it was very slightly awkward. I think the situation that it was in...I mean, we were in a meat locker, and those were real carcasses. It wasn't hard to take it seriously, but it kind of lifted the pressure. I mean, it was pretty funny. I still think it's pretty funny. I like that scene. It's a good scene.

Was that scene your first onscreen kiss?

I actually had my first kiss when I was on the set in Hearts in Atlantis on this ferris wheel, which I think is a really nice scene.

Bicycles are seemingly the preferred choice of transportation in House of D. Who's better on a bike: you or Robin?

Robin Williams, definitely. Hands down. We went to his house to rehearse, and he has three or four bike racks of mountain bikes. He loves bikes, to put it bluntly.

What was the cast's reaction when Robin did his character's comical expression known as "the dad face"?

He's a person that makes me cry from laughter. And he did that dad face. It never gets old. Like I watch it and I still laugh. And he just came up with that, and David and I both cracked up. And I love that scene, when Tommy comes back. It's my favorite scene when I read it and it's my favorite scene now, when he says, "You have the dad face now" and he does it. So wonderful how David mimicked that. And I think it's so touching. It's a beautiful scene, I think, in every possible manner.

Your character Tommy is faced with a pretty difficult decision about leaving home. Would you be able to do what he did if you were in a similar situation?

I think it's such a difficult thing to do, and I don't know if I'm strong enough.

Thanks for your time.

Thank you.

Related Material

Interviews with David Duchovny
Movie Coverage: House of D


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