Playing God (1997 film)

Playing God is a 1997 American dramatic crime thriller film directed by Andy Wilson and written by Mark Haskell Smith. It stars David Duchovny (in his first starring role after achieving success with The X-Files), Timothy Hutton, and Angelina Jolie.

Playing God
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAndy Wilson
Written byMark Haskell Smith
Produced byMarc Abraham
Laura Bickford
Thomas Bliss
CinematographyAnthony B. Richmond
Edited byLouise Rubacky
Music byRichard Hartley
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • October 17, 1997 (1997-10-17)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4,166,918[1]


Duchovny plays Eugene Sands, a surgeon who has his medical license revoked after operating under the influence of amphetamines and opiates. Hutton's character, a crime lord named Raymond Blossom, happens upon him in a bar where Sands saves someone's life with an emergency procedure to inflate a collapsed lung. Blossom hires Sands as his personal physician, patching up his accomplices when they cannot go to a hospital, and tending to the crime boss and his girlfriend, Claire (Jolie). In the final act of the film, Claire and Sands become involved, and he must face up to conflicting loyalties to Blossom, Claire, and the FBI agent who has blackmailed him into being an informant.



Its release was delayed due to initial negative reactions from test audiences. The film's trailer contained a brief glimpse of a sex scene between Duchovny and Jolie. The actress later confirmed that she had filmed two sex scenes for the movie, but that both of them were edited out of the final cut.


The film did not fare well financially or with critics, scoring just a 16% at the review site Rotten Tomatoes[2] and making only $4,166,918 at the US theater box office.[3] Popular film critic Roger Ebert however, gave the film three stars, saying "This may not be a great movie, but for both Duchovny and Hutton, it's a turning point", citing Duchovny's ability to "stand above the action" like Clint Eastwood; and Hutton's ability to create a real character as the villain, instead of merely filling a space.[4]

In an interview with the New York Times dated 9 April 2000 David Duchovny himself, while talking about production difficulties, stated that “‘Playing God' was a mistake only because we didn't have a script ready... I should have just bailed out, but I didn't know."[5][6]


The song "Spybreak!" by Propellerheads was used in this film two years before its stardom debut as the main song of the cult movie The Matrix (1999).


  1. ^ Playing God at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Playing God - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  3. ^ "Playing God - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  4. ^ " - Reviews: Playing God (xhtml)". 1997-10-17. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  5. ^ Gates, Anita (9 April 2000). "NYTimes". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Playing God, retrieved 2018-10-21

External linksEdit