Having spent the better part of a decade as UFO-chasing FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X-Files, David Duchovny was hesitant about playing another alien-buster in the big-screen comedy Evolution (opening today).

The actor says he jumped at the chance to re-team with director Ivan Reitman (with whom he made his first comedic foray in Beethoven). But his heart sank when he realized the script centered on aliens — a subject he felt he'd already covered more than thoroughly. "It was such a weird coincidence, because Ivan doesn't watch The X-Files and doesn't even know what it's about," chuckles Duchovny. "The fact that there are aliens in this movie is just a pain in the ass."

After mulling over the dilemma with his wife, actress T&#233a Leoni, Duchovny concluded that the benefits of working with Reitman outweighed the drawbacks of another close encounter with extraterrestrials. And actually, he says his former X-Files alter ego never even entered his mind while working on Evolution. "I never thought to myself, 'Does this sound too much like Mulder?'" he insists. "I'm glad I didn't, because it would have been hell."

Ironically, it was only after the film was screened for an audience that Duchovny found the humor in one apparently self-referential line — wherein his character alludes to the untrustworthy nature of government agents. "I couldn't figure out why people were laughing at that part," he admits, "until we figured out that they assumed it was a reference to The X-Files. The fact is, I don't like the kind of humor where an actor pokes fun at another role he plays. I feel like it's cheap. But this happened inadvertently — and hey, we'll take any laugh we can get!"