Thursday, February 4, 2010

Where Are They Now: Twin Peaks Giant Cast

Back in the early nineties David Lynch and Mark Frost assembled one of the largest and most dynamic ensemble casts on Twin Peaks. This collection of absurdly dark and comically naive characters bustled through their mountain town with the kind of magnetic energy that makes it impossible to pick just one favorite character. Pearing in on this sinister and mystical community 20 years later makes one wonder why in the hell we haven’t seen most of their faces since. Lynch is famous for casting actors without even doing so much as a read through- simply sitting down and having a conversation with an actor is all the explorative director needs- so there’s a chance that some of them were never standout performers to begin with. But sharing the journey of finding out who killed Laura Palmer is a bonding experience that begs the curiosity of where these actors have gone since the untimely ending of their landmark series.

As much as I’d like to share overdramatic stories of disappointment over the decisions our beloved Special Agent Dale Cooper has made in his career in recent years we all know what Kyle MacLachlan has to up so I will simply move on. Another actor you may or may not have semi-followed since is Lara Flynn Boyle whose hype has unfortunately followed her weight more than her acting career but nonetheless has made her a household name. The incredible talents of Grace Zabrinskie and Ray Wise have also continued working steadily since their equally zaney roles as the Palmer parents. Zabrinskie had roles in titles such as (Lynch’s) Inland Empire, License to Wed, and Big Love. And Wise held a laundry list of guest appearances on popular television shows before playing the Devil on the WB’s Reaper for two years. He currently has three films in post-production.

Now we can focus on those Twin Peaks cast members whose faces we haven’t seen in last two decades. Remember when Bobby Briggs turned Laura’s funeral “upside down”? Super-cute-bad-boy, Dana Ashbrook, was cast as Clyde Barrow in the 1992 TV movie Bonnie & Clyde: The True Story, then went on to play a short collection of small roles in series such as Dawson’s Creek and Charmed. This absence of work is disappointing considering Ashbrook’s impeccable comedic timing and inarguable good looks. But things are turning up for old Bobbo as he’s been cast in the regular occurring role of Jimmy in the Starz series “Crash”. Then there’s his sweetheart secret girlfriend and Double R Diner waitress Shelly Johnson. Madchen Amick has been one of the busier actors from Twin Peaks holding reoccurring roles in Gilmore Girls, ER, and Joey. Most recently she played Christian Slater’s wife in the short-lived My Own Worst Enemy and also appeared in Californication.

Amick’s relative success makes one wonder where Eric DaRe (Leo Johnson, her character’s abusive husband) could be. The answer is nowhere. Or nowhere locatable, I suppose. He’s credited as a casting assistant in Wild at Heart and a property buyer in Lost Highway, which really only further proves Lynch’s loyalty. As far as acting he was a medic in Starship Trooper’s, which totally counts, and coincidentally played two minor roles in films starring actors famous for other Lynch work (Thriller with Dennis Hopper, and Playing God with David Duchovny). But all in all Peak’s was his peak.

Most TP cast members have maintained minor acting careers through their connection to the show by occasionally being featured in B movies and popular TV series spanning the networks. Among them are Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran) who’s done voice acting for The Simpson’s and Pepper Ann, and James Marshall (James Hurley) who may be found in films ranging from Soccer Dog: The Movie to A Few Good Men. Piper Laurie (Catherine Martel) has also played a number of television roles over the years and will appear as an unnamed character in Hesher, a Joseph Gordon-Levitt-Natalie Portman-Rainn Wilson-set to premiere at Sundance 2010-feature.

One undeniable fact about David Lynch is that, while he’s able to find to the most uncomfortably eerie looking actors, he’s also able to find divinely beautiful women to fit his sirenous roles like a glove. Case-in-point: Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne). After solidifying her sex-symbol status by dancing mid-day in the Double R Diner like a doped up gogo dancer she went on to grace the covers of Playboy and Rolling Stone magazines. She also landed spots in a number of “Most Beautiful…”, and “Most Sexy…” lists in the early 90’s. Her acting career led her to a role in Gary Sinise’s Of Mice and Men, and to play Liz Taylor in their 1995 NBC miniseries about the actresses life. Her latest endeavor The Scenesters, a mockumentary about a serial killer taking town dipsters in LA, has her playing an A.D.A agent.

Now this could literally go on for 10 more pages considering the size of Twin Peaks cast, especially after the second season popularity drew in such names as Heather Graham, Billy Zane, and David Duchovny, so I’m going to have to stop eventually. But there are a few more major characters with minor careers worth mentioning. The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) is primarily a theatre actor and has been working with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for over ten years. The Giant (Carel Struychen) has played other giants in Men In Black, My Name is Earl, and three Adam’s Family films. The Man From Another Place most recently played carnival manager, Samson, in the HBO series Carnivale. Bob (Frank Silva) as many people know worked in the art department of Twin Peaks and other productions until he accidentally made his way into a shot inspiring Lynch to write a role for him. His production work was limited after Twin Peaks and in 1995 he died of AIDS. Sheriff Harry Truman (Michael Ontkean) has worked consistently in made-for-tv movies. Benjamin Horne (Richard Beymer) went on to do some sparse TV work before writing a semi-autobiographical book in 2007. And last, but certainly not least, the lovely Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer and Madeleine Ferguson) has been featured in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Desperate Housewives, and One Tree Hill.

If you remember correctly, the opening credits for Twin Peaks were about 2 minutes long so I’ll mention again that a ton of people have been left out. To find out about these unmentioned characters, and possibly meet them in person, check out Twin Peaks Fest 2010! Dates aren’t set yet but guest appearances are a guarantee along with the opportunity to relive the mystery with fellow die-hard fans.

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