Before he played an FBI agent on The X-Files, David Duchovny made his TV debut as DEA agent Denise Bryson for a three-episode arc in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s supernatural crime drama Twin Peaks, which aired for two seasons on ABC.
As revealed in an exclusive preview photo from EW’s new cover story, Duchovny will be reprising his role in Showtime’s upcoming revival of the 1990-91 cult classic, which will pick up about 25 years after the events in the series finale.
Formerly known as Dennis, Denise began regularly wearing makeup and women’s clothing after dressing as a “transvestite” for an undercover operation. “I found that wearing women’s clothes relaxed me,” she told Kyle MacLachan’s Agent Cooper.
In one particularly memorable scene, Denise, responding to the assumption that she wasn’t into girls, quipped, “I may be wearing a dress, but I still pull my panties on one leg at a time. If you know what I mean.”
In a 2008 interview with The Advocate, Duchovny explained how he made sense of his character’s gender identity.
“I really didn’t think about it in terms of sexuality because it didn’t seem like that was the point,” he said. “I thought, What is it in a woman that a man would want to be? There’s a certain kind of expressiveness that’s allowed women in society, whereas men are traditionally closed off and shut down, so I thought, Well, that’s probably what it is—he just wants to be expressive. That’s the only way I went at it.”
It should be interesting to see how Duchovny's and the show's approach to Denise has evolved in light of increased trans visibility and representation in the media over the past two decades.
Duchovny first teased that he might revisit his Twin Peaks character back in 2015. Asked if he’d be up for slipping back into Denise’s skirts, he told TVLine, “Yeah, I’ll shave my legs.”
Twin Peaks returns May 21 on Showtime.