This is the dawning of a new age of Aquarius. As the cat-and-mouse chase between Los Angeles detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) and eccentric commune leader Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) draws to its intense conclusion, Hodiak finds himself thrown headfirst into the volatile 1960s world of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Duchovny previews the far-out action while also filling us in on the future of The X-Files and his plans for the summer.
What is your process for getting into the groovy 1960s mind-set?
The first season, I was watching movies like Point Blank. [Creator John] McNamara loves this movie called Petulia from the guy who directed the Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night, but it’s a little too ’60s for my tastes. I did watch a bunch of other movies and I listened to music from that time, but as superficial as this is going to sound, it’s putting on the clothes and the hairdo that really takes me back there.
What’s the secret to that ’60s hair?
[Laughs] Well, it’s more like ’50s hair. I wanted it to be more of a crew cut, but a little blown out and severe. As soon as I look in the mirror and that’s looking back at me, I go, “OK, now we’re Hodiak again.”
How has Hodiak changed in Season 2?
He’s definitely more under the gun. He’s being taunted by an anonymous dude who is sending him photographs of women in various states of distress, tied up and tortured. His son (Chris Sheffield) is still in military prison and won’t talk to him. His ex-wife (Jodi Harris) is spiraling out of control. So his life is falling apart. It’s not like he had all his s–t together last season, but he had more of his s–t together last year than this year, for sure.
Will there be a time-jump?
We’ve sped up from the original concept. It was enough to have one season of an entire show that was supposed to lead up to the Manson murders where Hodiak killed more people than Manson! [Laughs] We didn’t want to try viewers’ patience anymore. This is the year the famous Manson murders actually happen. This season leads up to those murders, and then we cover the cultural and social aftermath of what it all meant to the country and to the characters who are dealing with it on the show.
Even though they only had a few run-ins last season, Hodiak was still obsessed with Charles Manson. Are they physically getting closer to each other this year?
When we return, they are actually further apart. The truth of the matter is that Manson was not on anybody’s radar. He was a grifter and a con man, but he wasn’t Public Enemy No. 1. The characters came together last year only because Hodiak was looking for Emma (Emma Dumont) and he just dislikes Manson as a person. It’s not really an obsession. The obsession is more about Hodiak’s own second-guessing. Every homicide detective’s nightmare is to be in touch with a killer who then continues to kill. That’s really going to eat at him for the rest of his life—if we get to continue to do the show.
What cultural and social issues of the ’60s are touched on this season?
War, civil unrest, civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights. These issues are ongoing, and that’s what makes the show work not just as a period piece, because you like bell-bottoms, but the cases are as current and ripped from the headlines as Law & Order.
NBC is airing the season opener as a two-hour, commercial-free event. Last year, the network put the whole season online just after the TV premiere. What do you make of these unconventional methods NBC is using for the show?
[Laughs] I really don’t know what’s going on! I love the idea of a two-hour movie uninterrupted on television, and I’m proud to be a part of that. But everybody’s flailing around looking for ways to attract viewers in this very saturated marketplace. I was a little disappointed last season because I thought we did well, but then you look at the ratings and of course the ratings would sink after you give the entire series away for free. So I felt like the show got a little tarnished in a way that it didn’t deserve. It had a lot of viewers, but they just weren’t Nielsen viewers.
You had great ratings success last winter with Fox’s X-Files reboot. Any plans to get back together with creator Chris Carter and costar Gillian Anderson for more?
We are talking about it, and like before, it’s a matter of getting the three principal people in the same room for a significant amount of time to shoot it. Last time, it obviously took nearly 10 years [to get us all together again], so hopefully it won’t take that long. And I think there were too few episodes. Twenty-two is far too many, but six is too few, so we’ve got to figure out something right in between.
Do you have any big summer plans?
I’ve got some new music that I’d love to try to record, but other than that, I plan to just sit on my rear end a little bit and shuttle my two kids to wherever they need to be.
How are fans reacting to you as a musician?
I think people might come to me as a novelty, but the good thing about music is ultimately, you don’t care who makes it if you like it. So if fans of my acting come to a concert, that’s fantastic—and I don’t think they’re going to keep coming if they hate the music. I just hope other people can get a chance to hear it.
You also wrote a children’s book last year called Holy Cow. What’s next for you to try?
Nothing. I’m done. [Laughs]
Aquarius, Season Premiere, Thursday, June 16, 9/8c, NBC.