Why Piper Laurie and Joan Chen weren't asked back to Twin Peaks
When the 217-strong list of actors joining Showtime’s upcoming revival of Twin Peaks hit the web, fans quickly noticed some major omissions: While numerous members of the original cast (Kyle MacLachlan, David Duchovny, Mädchen Amick, and Peggy Lipton) in addition to fresh faces (Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, and Michael Cera) will appear on David Lynch’s limited series revival next year, fan favorites like Piper Laurie, Joan Chen, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Heather Graham were noticeably absent.
Laurie, who played Catherine Martell on the original series, tells EW she hasn’t read the list of new cast members set to invade Twin Peaks in 2017, but she knows for sure she isn’t on it. “I made it very clear to David and the team that I would be delighted to come back. I had a fantastic time on the original and won lots of awards. I’m surprised and I have no idea why I haven’t been called back,” the three-time Oscar-nominee says, noting that she only found out the revival was happening as news was released to the public. “I did send a note to David that I would be delighted to return, but I think most of the material that I was in on the original didn’t really involve the darker aspects of the show, and I can guess maybe that’s where David and Mark Frost are going, but I really don’t know. My character was more on the silly, comic, fun side.”
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Across Twin Peaks‘ 30 episodes, Laurie also shared ample screen time with Joan Chen, who played Catherine’s sister-in-law Josie. Though Chen’s character died near the end of the series’ second season, a source close to the actress tells EW Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost tried to find a way to bring the 55-year-old back for the 2017 limited series. “She was not asked to return. Lynch couldn’t find something for her or Piper Laurie that would make sense,” the source says. “They had conversations, but couldn’t find a way for her to return… She’s not upset about it. If she was involved, she would comment on it.”
Both Showtime and Lynch declined to comment on the show’s cast. Graham, who played Norma Jennings’ sister, Annie Blackburn, and Michael J. Anderson, who appeared in several Twin Peaks episodes as the mysterious Man from Another Place, are also not discussing their apparent absence from the series’ third season. Graham declined comment, while a rep for Anderson indicated the actor is not doing interviews for the forseeable future. According to the actor’s Facebook page, however, Anderson was, at one point, under consideration to join the cast. “In response to multiple inquiries, I am NOT involved in the new Twin Peaks series. Negotiations concluded unsuccessfully,” he wrote. A fan commented on the post, telling the actor, “You ARE Twin Peaks!” Anderson responded: “Apparently, they disagree.”
Though she won’t reprise her role, Laurie admits she’s excited to see Lynch work his magic on a new cast. “The best part of doing the show was David’s trust in the actors,” she explains, recalling an instance when Lynch allowed her to take full control of her character. Laurie says the director allowed her to choose a unique persona to take on after Catherine’s implied death-by-fire occurred toward the end of season 1. In Catherine’s absence (Laurie’s name was even removed from the credits), the actress chose to go undercover on set and screen as Japanese businessman Mr. Tojamura for one of the series’ best-kept secrets, a stunt which required four hours of makeup and a vow of secrecy between Lynch and Laurie. When it was finally revealed to the audience that Tojamura had been Catherine in disguise the whole time, Laurie says costar Jack Nance, who played her on-screen husband, was fooled as well. “Jack never got it! He never knew it was me, and we had a lot of scenes together on the first day. He went to David and said, ‘Boy, is that new actor weird.’”
The 84-year-old, whose most famous roles include Margaret White in Carrie and Mrs. Norman in Children of a Lesser God, admits she’s kept busy with numerous personal projects, including a memoir she spent three years penning, and hasn’t spoken to many of her former Twin Peaks costars since the ABC series ended after two seasons in 1991. She also reveals that no one among the revival’s cast has reached out to her for advice on how to tackle Lynch’s often challenging material.
Ever optimistic about her future with Lynch and Frost, however, Laurie says she isn’t ruling out working with them on a project — Twin Peaks-related or otherwise — in the future. “[Twin Peaks] was a great time for me, and David and Mark know what they want to do, and I’ll hear from them when they’re ready,” she says. “Of course I’ll watch [the new episodes]. I think David will go to new territory. He’s very adventurous, and he has a good mind. I’ve got no reason to think why it won’t be a great success.”
Watch the trailer for the Twin Peaks revival series, set to air on Showtime in 2017, in the video above.