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David Duchovny touts Russian pride in beer ad, but he's of Ukrainian descent

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 3:00 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Actor David Duchovny appears in a commercial touting the Russian beer Siberian Crown.
Actor David Duchovny appears in a commercial touting the Russian beer Siberian Crown.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • David Duchovny's Russian beer ad is released at an awkward time
  • "I found out that being Russian, I'd have many things to be proud of," he says in the video
  • "I grew up thinking I was Russian only to find recently that I've been Ukrainian," he tweets
  • Duchovny and his manager did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment

(CNN) -- David Duchovny's latest role is stirring up more intrigue than any episode of "The X-Files." The actor plays himself in a beer commercial imagining how proud he would be if he were Russian.

"And I found out that being Russian, I'd have many things to be proud of," he says in the video, which was posted Friday on the Russian beer Siberian Crown's YouTube page.

A message in Russian was posted with the video. The Google translation of the message said that Duchovny "decided to do a film about Russian pride and love of country."

The timing of the video, viewed at least 1.6 million times in the first three days, couldn't be more controversial, considering the international condemnation of Russia after a Malaysian airliner went down over eastern Ukraine this month, killing 298 people on board. U.S. and Ukrainian officials have said a Russian-made missile system was used to shoot down the plane from rebel territory. Russia and the rebels have disputed the allegations and blamed Ukraine for the crash.

"This is the country where I was born and raised," Duchovny says at the start of the 2½-minute video. "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?"

But Duchovny's family emigrated from Ukraine, not Russia. He may not have known when he signed up for the commercial job earlier this year, but he apparently did before it was produced.

"I grew up thinking I was Russian only to find recently that I've been Ukrainian all along. Never too late to change," he said in a Twitter posting on April 4.

The difference between Ukrainians and Russians is central to the struggle between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government. Ethnic Russian rebels in the east and south of Ukraine identify with Russia.

Duchovny tweeted a photo on May 30, apparently taken while he was producing the scene where he imagined he was a Russian cosmonaut. "Ground control to Major Ivan," he tweeted.

He also imagines himself to be a Russian ballet choreographer, a Russian-speaking actor and a Russian rocker with a mullet.

"Could I still be among the stars?" Duchovny asks in the video. "How would I surround myself with beauty? What role could I have played? Would my smile be known the world over?"

Joshua Edwards, an assistant to Duchovny manager Melanie Greene, said Monday that Greene was working on a response to the controversy, but Edwards later said it would only be given to TMZ.

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