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Talking to David Lynch about Twin Peaks: The Return

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Subscribe to A Twin Peaks Podcast: A Podcast About Twin Peaks – on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts – to unwrap the mysteries of the Showtime revival.

All summer long, the Showtime revival of Twin Peaks transported viewers to a wonderful and strange universe of mystery. EW’s Jeff Jensen and Darren Franich have been trying their best to guide you through the show with A Twin Peaks Podcast: A Podcast About Twin Peaks, which was a podcast about Twin Peaks. On Thursday, Twin Peaks co-creator/director/Promethean entity David Lynch got on the phone with them. It was someone’s last day at the office. Enigmas ensued from the moment that Jeff dialed the phone…

The phone rings three times before someone answers.

VOICE ON PHONE: Hi, this is Jeff.

JEFF JENSEN: Hi, Jeff, it’s Jeff Jensen with Entertainment Weekly. How are you?

VOICE ON PHONE: Uhhh, good.

JENSEN: Is Sabrina there?

VOICE ON PHONE: I think you got the wrong number.

JENSEN: All right, thank you!

VOICE ON PHONE: Yup.

[hangs up]

DARREN FRANICH: [pondering doppelgängers] Jeff, did you just call yourself?

The correct number is dialed. Sabrina S. Sutherland — longtime Lynch colleague and Twin Peaks executive producer — answers and connects us with the director himself.

JEFF JENSEN: Last time we spoke, during the premiere, you were making a table.

DAVID LYNCH: Did you get the picture?

JENSEN: I did get the picture, thanks! That’s a beautiful table.

LYNCH: Fantastic, I’m glad you like it.

JENSEN: Where were you during the finale? Did you do anything special?

LYNCH: I was on a meditation course in Orlando, Florida.

JENSEN: How does it feel now to be able to finish what had been an unfinished work?

LYNCH: It feels really good. It went really good in the world. I feel very thankful and happy that we did it.

JENSEN: You’ve said in the past that when you look back on the ’90s, after Twin Peaks, there was some negativity attached to that time. Did you feel like going back to it kind of assuages some of that negativity?

LYNCH: Everybody has these things in their life. Like the Log Lady says, the stars turn and a time presents itself. Sometimes it’s not a pleasant time. In the early ’90s, I guess, I had a little bit of a black cloud over me. But, you know, these things come and they go.

JENSEN: The show ends with this amazing sequence that might involve time travel. I wonder if The Return might have been time travel for you.

LYNCH: It’s strange, how it goes in the world. There was a big splash at the beginning of Twin Peaks, and then certain things happened and it goes in a different direction. When Fire Walk With Me came out, people had had their fill of Twin Peaks, and the reception was not good. Then the reputation of that film got better and better through the years. Go figure.

 

FRANICH: The first season of Twin Peaks ends with Dale Cooper in a very precarious position. The second season ends with him in two different precarious positions. A lot of people were anticipating there’d be closure in The Return, but it feels like he’s once again in a very precarious position. Is that central to your conception of Twin Peaks, that that character is never quite safe?

LYNCH: Some things came to a conclusion. And some things dangled out there. And that’s sort of the way it is in life. [long pause]

JENSEN: Kyle played a lot of different facets of Cooper…

LYNCH: Amazing, amazing job, Kyle did, amazing. Kyle came out of this smelling like a rose! Not a blue rose! [laughs]

JENSEN: What was your favorite Cooper?

LYNCH: I love them all. I don’t know what type of person, but there must be a lot of them that just love Dougie. Kyle did such a good job as Dougie. You want to have a Dougie at home, to take care of and sit with and have cake and stuff.

FRANICH: Do you view “Richard,” Kyle in Part 18, as a different character from the Agent Cooper that we’ve seen previously? Should we consider that a slightly different version of the character?

LYNCH: You should look at that part again, and you could see it in different ways. I’m not gonna talk about it, though.

JENSEN: Part 8 was amazing from beginning to end, one of the most extraordinary hours of TV we’ve ever seen. Where did the inspiration for the atomic bomb entering into the world of Twin Peaks come from?

LYNCH: It’s a strange story. In my first feature film, Eraserhead, Henry has that same atomic bomb photo on his wall. So the atomic bomb’s in our lives, hopefully not going off, just sitting nicely in a closet. But, you know, things come along. One thing or another can open up portals. [long pause]

JENSEN: There was an atomic bomb in that picture in Eraserhead and now in The Return. Are those happy coincidences?

LYNCH: Sort of. I never really thought about it till later.

Showtime

JENSEN: It seemed like we encountered so much of you in this show. We felt like we saw allusions to other films, implied, implicit. Were you reflecting a lot on your life and your work while you were making this?

LYNCH: No, it was a coincidence. I guess I just love certain things. It was this world of Twin Peaks that was talking. I didn’t think about any other films.

FRANICH: All of the returning cast members were great, but I want to ask about Grace Zabriskie in particular. So many of her scenes were so primal and moving. What was the inspiration for the way you brought Sarah Palmer into this season?

LYNCH: I can’t really talk about more than what you saw. But I can say that — and it would be wrong for you to think that I don’t think other actresses are great — but Sarah Palmer, I mean Grace Zabriskie, is a staggeringly great actress. And so great to work with. I just can’t get enough of her. She’s incredible and does things so deep inside that you just can’t turn away. You’re just with her a hundred percent. She’s a real artist.

JENSEN: Freddie stole our hearts in the last act of Twin Peaks. The green glove: What was your inspiration for that?

LYNCH: I had that idea a long time ago. And it worked its way into Twin Peaks. And Freddie [played by Jake Wardle], I discovered on the internet. A friend of mine wrote and said, “You should check this guy out. He does these impressions, different dialects.” I don’t know, five years ago at least, I saw him, then I contacted him, and I wanted him for this part. Lo and behold it all happened. He’s from East London, and a Cockney, and the real deal. He is fantastic.

JENSEN: You said the glove was an idea you had for awhile. For a movie? A painting?

LYNCH: No, no. You know, ideas come along, so you write ’em down. I got boxes of these things. So that was one of them.

FRANICH: Talking about some of the actors you worked with this season, one actor you worked with was… yourself!

LYNCH: Unbelievable! Unbelievable! A pain in the ass to work with, though! Talk to Sabrina about that guy.

FRANICH: I have a question: Has Gordon Cole seen Sunset Boulevard?

LYNCH: [Laughs] It’s one of his all-time favorites.

FRANICH: What does Gordon Cole think when his name gets said out loud in Sunset Boulevard?

LYNCH: He thinks, “Someone had it before me!” Did I ever tell you that story? That’s where the name came from, for my character in Twin Peaks, from Sunset Boulevard. Billy Wilder worked at Paramount Studios. If you’re driving from the east, toward the west, going to Paramount on Melrose, you’ll pass Gordon Street and Cole Street. Isn’t that incredible? I know that’s where he got the name.

JENSEN: One of many amazing scenes that Gordon had this season was that amazing piece of comedy when the French Lady that he’s entertaining in his hotel suite has to leave. What was the inspiration for that elaborate exit?

LYNCH: Albert. It’s great watching Albert see this mess.

SHOWTIME

FRANICH: There were all those scenes on the Roadhouse this season, where we met these new characters, many of them younger adults, many of them with problems, many of them attached to someone named Billy. I’d love to know what you and Peaks co-creator Mark Frost intended with these scenes, all these check-ins on new characters?

LYNCH: Well, Billy’s another story. It’s the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks. To listen in to two or three characters talking about what’s going on in their lives in Twin Peaks was the thing. They’ve all got their problems, and [they’re] dealing with them.

FRANICH: Quick follow-up question: What is the story with Billy?

LYNCH: [Laughs] [Does not answer]

JENSEN: Here at the end, there are so many story lines where I think I have to go back and wonder about threads that are connecting all of them, whether it’s Billy, whether it’s Audrey. Would you encourage that kind of review?

LYNCH: You know, it’s not a science lab. If it’s fun to think about them, then I would encourage it. Wasn’t Sherilynn Fenn great?

JENSEN: Yeah, and you gave her a tough part to play.

LYNCH: Yeah.

JENSEN: There’s that beautiful image toward the end, when Cole and Diane and Cooper go to the bottom of the Great Northern. What was it like for you to put these images onscreen, commemorating you and these two longtime collaborators, Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern? Was that special for you?

LYNCH: Huge special. So many great things happened with Kyle and Laura, from Blue Velvet days. Coming back and being together again was really great, onscreen and off.

Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

JENSEN: The episode where the Log Lady died was so shattering. What was it like for you to guide Catherine Coulson through those scenes?

LYNCH: It was, you could say, extremely emotional. But thank goodness it was done. Catherine passed away four days after she shot that scene. Certain things came together just in the nick of time.

JENSEN: I think it’s beautiful that you got that on film.

LYNCH: So beautiful. So important.

JENSEN: Has Showtime talked to you about more Twin Peaks?

LYNCH: No, we haven’t talked. The thing just finished! Even if there was more, it would be four years from now before anyone would see it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

JENSEN: Do you have any ideas for what would be next?

LYNCH: No, I can’t talk about that.

FRANICH: Do you ever have any Monica Bellucci dreams?

LYNCH: So many you can’t count ’em.

JENSEN: I’ll be going back over and looking at these 18 hours again. There’s so much richness But it also made me want more from you, David! Not necessarily more Twin Peaks, but more movies!

LYNCH: Well, I’m going through those boxes.