David Lynch took to the TCA stage Monday to discuss the “Twin Peaks” revival, and it was somehow appropriate that many of his answers were short and enigmatic. Affable as always — he and the cast used the word “beautiful” frequently — Lynch and his “Twin Peaks” actors offered little in the way of specificity on the 18 hours that will arrive on Showtime May 21.
Asked if the new “Twin Peaks” would consist of new storylines versus continuations of old ones, Lynch replied, “I’m really not at liberty to talk about that.”
Is the new version of the show the “pure heroin” version of his original vision for “Twin Peaks,” as Showtime president David Nevins said earlier in the day? “I hear heroin is a very popular drug,” Lynch parried.
Why cast Laura Dern? “I love Laura Dern.”
The only real nugget dropped about the new season is that “the story of Laura Palmer’s last seven days is very, very important for this,” Lynch said.
Speaking of the two seasons that ran on ABC back in 1990-91, Lynch said that one thing that caught he and fellow executive producer Mark Frost off guard was the need to wrap up the murder mystery that kicked off the drama.
“What killed ‘Twin Peaks’ originally — who killed Laura Palmer? — was a question that we did not ever really want to answer,” Lynch said. “That Laura Palmer mystery was the goose that laid these little golden eggs. And then at a certain point, we were told we needed to wrap that up and after that, [the show] never really picked up.”
When it came to the first iteration of the show, the director was a little more more forthcoming than he was about the Showtime continuation. Smiling calmly, Lynch resisted the idea that with the original “Twin Peaks” pilot, he and Frost were straining at the conventions of the television of the era.
“I saw it as a film, and we shot it the same was [as a film] and lo and behold, it clicked,” Lynch said of the pilot, a TV classic that he clearly still loves.
Lynch also said that “Twin Peaks” never had any problems with the Standards and Practices department of ABC 27 years ago, and skirted the question of whether the premium-cable version of the small-town story will be substantially different in tone and content from the original.
He also didn’t answer questions about any turbulence the project may have had two years ago, when reports arose that the revival had encountered difficulties.
“I would rather not discuss that,” Lynch said. “We’ve got a great working relationship. It’s been super working with [Showtime executives]. I’m very, very happy being at Showtime.”
Lynch did confirm that the new season was written all at once, as one big story, but didn’t elaborate on how he divided the new season into 18 installments. He did note that he and Frost, who lives in Ojai, work together via Skype.
Over the years, he had thought about what the characters might be up to, he noted. “I often just remembered the beautiful world and the beautiful characters,” Lynch said. “It was Mark who contacted me — it was many years ago now — and asked if I wanted to go back into that world, and we met and talked, and that’s what got us going again for this one.”
Why didn’t a few actors from the first go-round come back — was it because they didn’t want to come back or there weren’t stories from them? “It’s a little bit of both,” Lynch said.
For the actors who did come back, it was “beautiful” to re-enter the distinctive world of the small town in the woods.
“I cried the whole time,” said Madchen Amick.
“The opportunity of working with David every day is magical and hilarious,” said Laura Dern. “You’re seeing something you’ve never seen before.”
Kyle MacLachlan recalled meeting Lynch on the set of “Dune” more than two decades ago, as a young actor just starting out.
“I didn’t really know anything about film acting, [but] we just had a shorthand, for lack of a better word,” MacLachlan said. “He put me in a different frame of mind, and I somehow related to it.”
Now he and Lynch have such a deep rapport that they can sometimes stand together after a take, silently processing what just transpired, and without even speaking, know how the performance needs to be adjusted.
“It’s a feeling more than anything else,” MacLachlan said. “I don’t really know why and I don’t have that with any other director I’ve worked with yet. I consider it to be special, and I’m so grateful to be able to have that actor-director relationship again.”
“A breath is a direction or a shrug,” Dern added. “I didn’t know that language the first time” she worked with Lynch, but having that kind of connection on “Twin Peaks” made the experience “much more interesting.”
“But nothing has changed, at the same time, since Day 1,” Dern said.
Did he have confidence in what he and Frost had come up with — a process that started with that long conversation at Musso and Frank’s a few years ago?
“Always, we’re filled with doubts,” Lynch said. He said he didn’t really think about how to stand out in the current TV landscape — much of which, as one critic pointed out, has been influenced by the original “Twin Peaks” and its singular aesthetic.
“You know, I don’t really think about those things. It’s always the same things [that matter] — the story and the way the story is told,” Lynch said. “I’m very happy in this world and how it’s going.”
There were no plans to make more than the 18 episodes created for Showtime, but he added, “before I said I wasn’t going to re-visit it and I did. So you never say no. But right now, there’s no plans for anything more.”
Said Lynch, “This word ‘expect’ is a magical word, and people expect things, and their expectations are met hopefully when they see the thing.”