Plugging Russian-made beer Siberian Crown, David Duchovny appears in a two-and-a-half-minute ad, titled "You Have Things to Be Proud Of," with heavy themes of pro-Russian nostalgia and cultural nationalism.
"This is the country where I was born and raised. But there is another country, where I got my family name from. And sometimes I wonder: What if things turned out differently? What if I were Russian?" Duchovny muses in the video, posted to YouTube by the beer-maker.
In it, Duchovny contemplates how life would be different if he had been born Russian.
The ad shows Duchovny's alternate lives as a Russian astronaut; hockey player; ballet choreographer; aspiring actor, who speaks Russian in an audition; disco-pop singer, complete with mustache and mullet; rustic dude jouncing through a river with companions, in a beat-up Russian jeep; and, finally, an urbane, upper-middle-class Russian with something important to say, as he toasts with some good-looking friends in Russian on a rooftop at sunset.
"Could I still be among the stars? How would I surround myself with beauty? What role could I have played? Would my smile be known the world over?" Duchovny wonders. "What path would I choose? Or would I make my own? Who would my friends be? What song would turn my life around?
"And I found out that being Russian, I'd have many things to be proud of," he concludes.
ABC has reached out to Duchovny for comment on the ad.
Siberian Crown is a Russian-based subsidiary of the Belgian-based international beer conglomerate Anhueser-Busch Inbev. The company identifies Siberian Crown as one of its main local brands in the Russian market.
The ad was posted to YouTube on Friday. Posting it to the Russian social network VK, Siberian Crown explained the ad (as translated by Google): "David Duchovny decided to do a film about Russian pride and love of country. He recently spoke about his origins, and now presented as life would have turned out if his ancestors not left for America."
In April, the actor identified himself on Twitter as having Ukrainian, not Russian, roots:
I grew up thinking I was Russian only to find recently that I've been Ukrainian all along. Never too late to change.
— David Duchovny (@davidduchovny) April 4, 2014
Most memorably, Duchovny starred in the sci-fi series "The X-Files." He later starred in the Showtime series "Californication" and holds an undergraduate degree from Princeton. According to IMDB.com, Duchovny was born in New York City, to a father born to Jewish immigrants from Ukraine and Poland, and a Scottish mother.
The ad was released at a particularly tense time between the U.S. and Russia, intensified by fighting in eastern Ukraine and a public dispute over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in rebel-held territory.
On Thursday, one day before Duchovny's ad was released, the U.S. State Dept. and Pentagon publicly charged that Russian military forces fired artillery from Russia at Ukrainian military positions across the border, and on Sunday, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released surveillance images it says prove that charge.
Russia has yet to respond to those images. American officials have repeatedly asserted that Russia has supplied the rebels with weaponry, including an SA-11 missile system that, American and Ukrainian officials say, rebels used to shoot down MH17.
Last Monday, President Obama publicly admonished Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his "direct influence" over pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists to ensure safe access to the crash site for international investigators. Putin responded by voicing support for an investigation and warning that no one should exploit the MH17 "tragedy" for "political goals."
With U.S. support, the European Union last week widened its sanctions against Russian officials over the Ukrainian conflict. In a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry "did not accept Foreign Minister Lavrov's denial that heavy weapons from Russia were contributing to the conflict," according to a State Dept. readout.
Despite deep divisions over Ukraine, the U.S. and Russia ostensibly continue to work with each other and Europe in multilateral talks with Iran over its nuclear program. This month, those negotiations were extended for another six months.