Kyle MacLachlan (Dale Cooper) had The Flintstones, Showgirls, and married Charlotte in Sex and the City, David Duchovny (Denis/Denise Bryson) kept up the FBI act – but gave up the cross-dressing – in The X-Files, and Heather Graham (Annie Blackburn) was famous for fifteen minutes… But as Twin Peaks fans gather at the Great Northern Hotel in Snoqualmie, Washington, to celebrate the 10th birthday of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s ground-breaking TV show, Empire asks the inevitable question: “Diane, where are they now?”
Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer / Madeleine Ferguson): I went into the [audition] with no knowledge of the character, at all. David just talked to me about playing a dead girl, and could I stand the freezing cold water I was going to have to be in? I cried the whole way home. I was so poor I couldn’t get a cab. I had to walk, like, fifty blocks home, and I was just in ecstasy, just crying out of gratefulness.
Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs): The way it went down was that the casting director knew me, and later on I tested the scene [from the pilot] where I was in the car with Shelley, but I rehearsed it with another actress. I didn’t meet Mädchen Amick until later. It was one of the easiest jobs I ever got – and one of the best.
Michael Horse (Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill): While making a 15-minute short film by David Lynch called The Cowboy and the Frenchman. I asked David what he was doing next…
Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer): I think they asked me to look at the role of the [Sheriff’s] receptionist. Can you believe it?
Ray Wise (Leland Palmer): It was originally for the role of Sheriff Truman. They called back a few days later and my agent said, ‘Ray, they’re interested in you for the part of Leland Palmer.’ I had to quickly look him up in the script.”
Don Davis (Major Briggs): It was fairly unorthodox. [David and I] spent most of the time talking about trout fishing.
Carel Struycken (The Giant): They had this very interesting casting director, Johanna Ray, who was, I think, very instrumental in finding a lot of people and putting them all together. She did an absolutely incredible job. Especially [with] the women, because they’re not all these bimbo blondes.
Walter Olkewicz (Jacques Renault): I learned about the part, and they needed to see me right away, so I couldn’t spend a lot of time working on the [French-]Canadian accent. What I did in the audition was Pépé Le Pew – it was the only French accent I could think of.
Anderson: That particular thing with the talking backwards, and the Red Room, and the shadows, and all that – nobody had any idea what it meant at the time we were shooting it. Lynch throws the scenes together and looks at them later and figures out what they mean. He discovers it as he goes along.
Davis: It was always very relaxed. People seemed to hit it off. Dana [Ashbrook] and I hit it off right from the first. And we’re total opposites.
Zabriskie: You know the scene where Leland and I dance, and we fight over the picture? The glass actually broke. I cut myself. David didn’t realise it, no one said, ‘Cut!’ and so I kept going. At the end of the take, David saw that I was wounded, and he sat me down on the couch, sent for ice, and he sat there for twenty minutes holding my hand above my head.
Miguel Ferrer (Albert Rosenfeld): I remember we were doing a scene with David Bowie [in Fire Walk with Me], and we were just about to roll and David Lynch came over to me and whispered, ‘Albert,’ – cause he always called me Albert – ‘that’s David Bowie!’ I said, ‘I know, Dave.’ And he said, ‘Pretty cool, huh?’
Ashbrook: Me and Mädchen, Lara Flynn Boyle, and James Marshall, and Sherilyn Fenn, we were in our late teens and early twenties, and we spent two years on it, and it was like college for us. It was the first television I’d done, so I got this great first experience.
Michael Ontkean (Sheriff Harry S Truman): Kissing Joan Chen.
Horse: The rock throwing scene!
Struycken: As a director, he created an atmosphere. The whole set, including everybody behind the camera, was in a kind of trance. That was how he operated.
Anderson: David Lynch never said anything about what anything meant. I think that he’s never departed from the psychological and metaphysical symbolism laden over everything. I don’t think he worries too much about what it means to the viewer. It’s very much what it means to him.
Zabriskie: I rarely felt significantly in sync with other directors the way I did with David. To be able to have these crazy little understandings, and act on them and have them understood and appreciated and used – that’s gold.
Ontkean: David is the only director in 35 years who encouraged me to take more time. I would climb Mount Everest in reef walkers if he asked.
Horse: He’s Jimmy Stewart with Salvador Dalí’s brain.
McGill: He is the master of the sweet and sour.
Davis: In two-and-a-half years of association, I never, ever saw him evidence any anger or raise his voice. He’s a very calm person.
Olkewicz: I actually didn’t meet him until I had finished doing the series, and he said, ‘We’re going to have you back next year.’ I said, ‘David, I died in the last episode.’ He said, ‘Bullshit – we got flashbacks, dream sequences. We’ll find a way, trust me.’ Sure enough, when he wrote the movie I got an intricate part, because it was [set] before Laura Palmer was killed.
Ashbrook: David said he’d executive produce Driven to It, a film I wrote with my best friend, Robert Bauer, who played Johnny Horne in Twin Peaks. It wasn’t like a hands-on kind of thing, but it was so gracious of him to help us out.
Struycken: The beauty of Twin Peaks was that it came so totally out of left field, that it was so completely unlike anything else that had ever been on TV.
Anderson: I had learned how to speak phonetically backwards, so that you could speak into a tape player, play it backwards, and understand it. It was just a skill. When [David] realised how easy it was me to simply translate words backwards, then he started adding lines for me to say.
Robertson: When we went to the screening of the pilot – it was called “Northwest Passage” at that stage – I remember sitting and watching, and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I was proud of being part of it.
Wise: Some of those people, in fact most of them – Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn – they’re just joys to work with. I love them all dearly. We were all thrown together, chosen by David and Mark, who in their great wisdom picked a group of people they knew instinctively would get along. And we did.
Horse: I knew from the beginning that we were doing something very special. It is a piece of television history.
Ontkean: This little town David and Mark created was so off the grid I was convinced it would never see the broadcast dots of television. Time Magazine opined it was the most hauntingly original work in the history of American television.
Ontkean: The success of Twin Peaks cluttered up my desk with too many offers to sift through.
Robertson: I like to do voiceovers (The Simpsons, Beauty and the Beast) and commercials (Diet Coke), and that’s one of the perks about being on Twin Peaks – people know who you are.
Ashbrook: Sometimes it helps me, and sometimes it hinders me. The thing I get recognised most for is Twin Peaks, and particularly on independent movies, people loved the show, and they know me, and that helps.
Fenn: Audrey almost had her own spin-off series, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to do.
Horse: It definitely was a help. Filmmakers that I respect in this business were fans of Twin Peaks and admired my work.
Anderson: I was in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I’m a Trekkie, [so] on the set, I was playing with the buttons and the transporter – ‘It’s the transporter! Beam me up!’ – I was having a ball the whole time.’
Ashbrook: I’ve been doing a lot of independent movies lately. I just did a movie called Angels Don’t Sleep Here with Roy Scheider and Robert Patrick. And I’ve done other pilots which never aired.
Horse: Passenger 57 (1992), and lots of television. I just finished the pilot for Tim Burton’s new television series, Lost in Oz.
Struycken: Lurch in the Addams Family movies, and an alien in Men in Black (1997).
Olkewicz: The Client (1994).
Fenn: Jennifer Lynch’s Boxing Helena (1993), Fatal Instinct (1993).
Lee: Backbeat (1994), John Carpenter’s Vampires (1999).
Horse: Absolutely none. I am extremely proud to be involved in such an artistic endeavour.
Ontkean: Not getting to kiss Joan Chen in more scenes. [And] that we didn’t get to peel more layers off the onion.
Ashbrook: It was never their intention to identify the killer, but America wanted it solved.
Olkewicz: They were selling these Twin Peaks [trading] cards and I thought, ‘I’ll get a set of these and see how many I’m in.’ I wasn’t in [any]!
Fenn: I was extremely disappointed in the way the second season got off track.
Zabriskie: As soon as it got way into extraterrestrials, I thought, ‘I don’t know if it was supposed to go there.’
Struycken: I think, in a way, David Lynch is very often his own worst enemy. I think it would have been much more productive for the general psyche of the country if he were to have kept his subversive edge in the content of the show, as he did, and if he would have been a little less subversive in the way the story was presented.
BY THE WAY, WHO DID KILL LAURA PALMER?
Lee: None of us knew, we just pretended like we did! It became a game because when when we said we didn’t know, nobody believed us anyway.
McGill: I think that David always had in mind that in the first season I could be a potential suspect.
Zabriskie: When the killer was named, something important and bad happened. I suppose once Laura’s killer was known, I rather lost hope for everything – for the series. A dramatic convention was flouted.
Ashbrook: It was her father – but he was possessed. That’s the right answer, right?
Wise: It was me. I didn’t want it to be me. I grew to love Leland Palmer and his strange ways and I didn’t want it to be him. It’s like having a close friend turn out to be a killer.
SUSPECTS AT LARGE:
Lara Flynn Boyle (Donna Hayward) is a regular on TV’s The Practice; Richard Beymer (Benjamin Horne) is a photographer; James Marshall (James Hurley) co-starred in A Few Good Men (1992) and played the lead in Gladiator (1992); Madchen Amick plays a teacher in Dawson’s Creek.
IN ANOTHER PLACE:
Jack Nance (Pete Martell) died after a fight outside a donut shop in December 1996, aged 53. Frank Silva (Killer Bob) died of a heart attack in September 1995, aged 44.
Additional reporting by Craig Miller, John Thorne and John Mitchell.