Duchovny: Sex Addict Onscreen and Off

The "Californication" star who plays a womanizer enters rehab for sex addiction.

February 23, 2009, 1:37 PM

Aug. 29, 2008— -- Is it life imitating art, or an actor taking his "method" a little too far? Whatever the case, David Duchovny, who plays a sex-crazed writer on Showtime's "Californication," seems to be having trouble breaking character; the actor is currently being treated for sex addiction at a rehab facility.

"I have voluntarily entered a facility for the treatment of sex addiction," he said in a statement released Thursday through his lawyer, Stanton "Larry" Stein. "I ask for respect and privacy for my wife and children as we deal with this situation as a family."

Duchovny, 48, has been married since 1997 to actress Tea Leoni, with whom he has a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son.

Showtime, which will begin airing the show's second season in September, released a statement after Duchovny's announcement, saying, "All of us at Showtime wish David and his family the best during this very private time."

In January, Duchovny won a Golden Globe for best comic actor for his lead role as Hank Moody, an oversexed single dad and novelist struggling with writer's block, on "Californication."

The show's Web site describes Moody as a man who "enjoys life and owns all his various vices -- drink, drugs and women -- with a refreshing sense of honesty and unapologetic candor. He's holding it together while falling apart, and he doesn't mind it one bit."

Starting with the series' first episode, which opens with Moody fantasizing about a nun performing oral sex, the show is rife with romps, one-night stands, threesomes and, in one episode, a post-coital vomit session. Hence, the word "fornication" in the title.

Could Duchovny have taken his character home with him? Psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall said it's more likely the actor brought his addiction to the set.

"I think it stems from a personality disorder that was pre-existing," Marshall, who has not treated the actor, told ABCNews.com. "Sex addiction is a serious problem. Adult circumstances don't turn you into a sex addict. It's factors from childhood."

Where a sex addict works, however, can solidify the addiction. "Just like an alcoholic might get a job in bar and a gambler might get job in Vegas, sex addicts seeks out environments where they can practice their addiction under the radar, so that it doesn't come to others' attention," Marshall said.

For an actor who is a sex addict, playing a sex-starved character is not only a great cover, but it could also have triggered some off-camera acting out.

"It's highly stimulating," Marshall said. "Maybe when in he was in the 'X-Files' he was able to hold himself back. Now on this show he has permission to act in sexualized manner and the addiction got out of hand."

Not every sex addict thinks they have problem, and many only seek treatment after their addiction disrupts their lives. Marshall believes that's what happened in Duchovny's case.

"Where there's smoke, there's fire," she said. "Most addicts do not enter treatment until their addiction causes serious personal and professional distress and they are confronted with the reality of their predicament by the people around them."

Once treated, Duchovny may have to think twice about returning to his role as Moody. After all, it can't be good for a sex addict to be around all those young virile actresses while kissing and pretending to have sex with them.

Said Marshall: "He may have to choose between his job and his mental health."