At the San Diego Comic-Con panel for Showtime’s revival of “Twin Peaks” on Friday, things got a little weird at times, but the love for the strange soap opera — among the cast and fans assembled in Hall H — was palpable.
Cast members Kyle MacLachlan, Tim Roth, Dana Ashbrook, Kimmy Robertson, Everett McGill, Matthew Lillard, James Marshall, Don Murray, and Naomi Watts were joined by moderator Damon Lindelof. Here are some highlights from the hourlong discussion of the drama:
1. There would be no “Lost” without “Twin Peaks.” Lindelof said that when the show first premiered in 1990, when he was 16, it completely rocked his world. “I was lonely,” Lindelof said. “The world was scary and confusing and I felt like it didn’t understand me.” But then, after the drama created by David Lynch and Mark Frost arrived, “suddenly I was no longer alone — I was in ‘Twin Peaks.’” Lindelof said he couldn’t describe what it felt like to meet the array of characters, but “I can tell you this; I loved every single one of them because they were all weirdos.” After citing just a few of the shows influenced by “Twin Peaks” — including “The Sopranos,” “Stranger Things,” and “Fargo” — Lindelof said, “I owe my entire career to this show, and I can think of no better place to say that than Hall H at Comic Con, in a room full of weirdos like me.”
2. Mastermind Lynch was present — in spirit and on film. Though Frost and Lynch did not make it to San Diego, Lindelof kicked things off with a film from Lynch. It was a short, strange piece that kept cutting out and piling on the strange developments. Lynch began by saying hello, but then he started yelling at someone off-camera. At that point, it sounded like a man fell from a great height. Lynch came back and said, “I’ve got to show you something” — and lifted up what looked like a dead hand. There was something in the hand: “This supposedly is the last golf ball O.J. Simpson hit before going into prison.” The film cut out again and then Lynch was back: “Today you’re going to meet some great actresses and actors …” Lynch began, but then, off-camera, it sounded like total chaos was breaking out. Lynch: “You can’t bring a horse in here. Manuel, take that gun away.” Fans packed into Hall H heard the sound of a horse whinnying. And then the film finally abruptly cut out. “That was even more than I could have hoped for,” said Lindelof, who said he was seeing that Lynch video for the first time.
3. Matthew Lillard has still not seen the original “Twin Peaks.” “I’m going to watch it tonight!” he joked. “I think it’s weird. Anyone else? If you’re not a ‘Twin Peaks’ dude and you come in, it’s a little strange.” Even the casting process was offbeat, Lillard said. “His casting process is very interesting,” he said. “They put a video camera on your face and you just talk about life in general. Then they invite the actor to come over and read pages.” And once he was on board, he was always wondering what was coming next. “When you’re reading a David Lynch script, you have no idea where it’s going to go,” Lillard said. “I got to this scene in Episode 9, and it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever read as an actor. In the middle, the character breaks down hysterically, sobbing. And you sort of know, being a fan of David’s movies and shows, what that looks like. It was intimidating. In his world, you get two takes. So you want to be really good really fast.”
4. Naomi Watts only saw her scenes with Dougie before cameras rolled. She didn’t see anything else from the scripts. But she had certainly hoped to work with Lynch again, after their experiences working together on “Mulholland Drive” years ago. “I had actually gone up [to Lynch’s house] more than a year ago with Laura Dern,” Watts said. “We were trying to coax him into some ideas and to get something going. That’s what you do with David — ‘Come on, hire me again.’ It’s just so good to be on a set with him or just in a room. He was talking about some ideas as he smoked, and smiling a lot, but not really saying yes or no. Finally I heard the rumor that ‘Twin Peaks’ was happening. I wasn’t part of that original team, so it would be wrong for me to be pushy about it. But I did drop some hints. I got a call.” Watts said Lynch “sat me in his chair that he built next to a table he built. I sat there for a good hour or so and read these pages. I don’t know anything about what happened before my part or after.” Did she know that Kyle would play Dougie? “It was not told to me, but I certainly posed that question, which he did not clarify,” Watts said.
5. Even getting the phone call to come back to “Twin Peaks” was unnerving, but also thrilling. While talking to Lynch, “I slid off the bed, which was really high at the time,” Robertson said. By the end of the call, “I was was looking at the bottom of my bed — I had somehow crawled under my bed. Because it was just so unexpected.” McGill said he was worried about being able to access “the emotions and vulnerability” of his character again. “But seeing everybody on the set, seeing how warm David was — it was great.” “Everybody gets exactly the same respect” on Lynch’s sets, and that creates a very creative atmosphere among the cast and crew, James Marshall said.
6. A few of the actors haven’t watched the new series on TV, but they hope to do so soon. “I’m going to wait until it’s done and watch everything from the first series [and the new episodes], all the way through, with my kids. I don’t know what that’s going to do to us,” Roth said.
7. His work can go into dark and strange areas, but working with Lynch is nothing but pleasurable. “He has this peace about him that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” Lillard said. “His belief in his process and his vision and his point of view is so profound and focus, and he inspires me that way,” MacLachlan added. “He follows this dream in his mind and I find that inspirational in my life, to go after the thing I believe in.” “He really shows great appreciation for other people’s work,” cast member Murray said. “And he never fails to do that. You go home from a day’s work with David and you feel good about it and about the world because you’ve had that experience.” “He knows how to get a performance, he digs deep,” McGill noted.
8. Asked for “a hot take” about Dougie, many members of the cast were a bit stumped. Eventually Robertson gave her opinion: “It’s very easy, if you ever meet any families who live out in the suburbs and work [there], it’s very easy to slip through the cracks and say one word a month without anyone noticing. And what wife wouldn’t like that?”
9. The Black Lodge set is very different from anywhere else in the “Twin Peaks” world. “It feels very focused and like electricity is buzzing around,” MacLachlan said. “It is a very unusual environment. That [black and white] floor gives you a very different state of being.”
10. An audience member who had never seen “Twin Peaks” asked the cast to “describe it in a nutshell.” “Just throw the nut away,” MacLachlan said. “Keep the shell,” Watts added.