Some kids rebel by misbehaving or skipping school. West Duchovny did so by avoiding the family business: acting. Her parents, Hollywood titans David Duchovny and Téa Leoni, both boast decades-long careers in film and television. Rather than hoping for a successful career on screen, Duchovny initially planned on a job in the medical field.
“Growing up, I never had any interest in acting,” the 24-year-old says. “When I was younger, people were constantly asking me, ‘Do you want to be an actor like your parents?’ And I think it made me want to rebel against it. So having actor parents was actually a deterrent for me.”
Despite her reluctance, Duchovny was bitten by the proverbial acting bug while performing in a play her senior year of high school “for shits and giggles.” This initial spark of passion was enough to make what she calls a “comically drastic pivot” away from her premed college track to focus on acting. Since then, Duchovny has landed roles in a number of projects, including the sci-fi film Linoleum (2022) and the psychological drama show Saint X (2023). She also stars in the recently released Netflix series Painkiller, which focuses on the opioid crisis and the Sackler family (of Purdue Pharma infamy).
Preparing for her role as Shannon, a sales rep at Purdue Pharma, was something Duchovny took seriously. In addition to her usual character development––coming up with individual likes, dislikes, and values––she chose not to look too much into the history of opioids and Purdue Pharma in order to add a level of authenticity to her role. As Duchovny’s character uncovers the truth about the Sacklers and their company, Duchovny, herself, does too. The show touches on some heavy topics, and the actor believes the hones and brave storytelling are what make the miniseries so compelling.
“It is such a special thing when art inspires action, and I hope that is true of our show,” she says. “At times, Painkiller is extremely hard to watch; it is so raw and heartbreaking and terrifying, and I think that is a big part of what makes it so powerful.”
With a growing roster of roles under her belt, Duchovny is assured in her love for acting and desire to play dynamic and unique characters. Looking to the future, she says, “I try not to think too far in advance, because sometimes when I do, it feels like my head is going to explode. Ultimately, though, I think my main hope is that I’m only getting started. I really just want to work. I love it so much.”
Photography Henry Kornaros
Fashion Emma Oleck
Makeup Tomoyo Shionome using TARTE COSMETICS
Hair Leonardo Manetti (SEE Management)
Manicure Candice Idehen (Statement Artists)
Photo assistants Tatum Dorrell, Garrison Block
Stylist assistants Natalie Cohen, Fabrice Laguerre
Makeup assistant Shoko Kodama
Hair assistant Mimi Romero