When Twin Peaks debuted on ABC in 1990, my mind was blown. It was the first time I became aware of just how big of an event a TV show could be, as I would get on the phone with friends to analyze what had happened, after every episode, and I was crushed when the series was canceled, which leads me to the excitement and nervousness that I experienced when a revival of the series was announced to air on Showtime for 18 hours worth of new storytelling.
Because secrecy is of the utmost importance to co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, members of the press were invited to the world premiere to screen it on May 20th (two days prior to the TV airing), with the agreement that we would keep all aspects of the story to ourselves, so that everyone can experience the magic that is Twin Peaks. Prior to the screening, I got the opportunity to briefly chat with executive producer/writer Mark Frost and actress Sheryl Lee, aka Laura Palmer, about why it took so long to get to this place, when they realized it would happen, how it became 18 hours, getting so much of the original cast back together, and why it’s even more magical now.
Collider: Mark, when you first set out on the journey into this weird and wonderful world, could you ever have imagined that we’d be here now, with the show back and this story being revisited?
MARK FROST: Not when I think back to the night that we got canceled, which was a bleak moment. We thought, “Oh, well, that’s the end of that.” And it really did take 20 years for all the stars to align again and for the new audience to coalesce and convince us that the people who wanted to see this were out there. From there, it was just a matter of starting the engine and rolling down the hill.
Coming up with an idea and actually getting a show made are two different things. When did you actually know you’d be able to bring it back?
FROST: After our first lunch. Once we put our heads together and started thinking about it. I knew that you could start a countdown clock and it would eventually show up.
Did you know then that it would be 18 hours?
FROST: No, we just wrote as much as we felt needed to be written. We didn’t even think about it in terms of episodes. We just decided that it would be as long as it needed to be, and we’d figure that out when we were done.
Do you see this as more of an 18-hour movie then?
FROST: I think that’s one way to look at it, sure. Eventually, down the road, I can envision some endurance testing marathons of an 18-hour showing in places, or maybe with a dinner break. It’s quite a complete experience. I think you’re gonna enjoy the ride.
It’s incredible that you have so many of the original cast members back, along with new cast members. What was it like to see the original cast back together?
FROST: It’s like the greatest college reunion, of all time. We had such an intense experience with all of our friends. We were really like a family, making the show the first time. And to get back together, all these years later, and share this and see how everybody is doing, what their life is like, and getting to meet their kids, and we lost some people along the way, it was very much like life. That was a really delightful part of the experience.
Sheryl, what was the first day back on set like for you? Did it feel familiar, or did you have to discover it all again?
SHERYL LEE: I honestly am embarrassed to say that I can’t remember what my first day was because there were meeting days, wardrobe days and conversation days. For me, that’s the beginning of a creative process. More so than even walking onto a set, it’s the conversation. But, that is exciting.
Mark, does it feel as magical, this time around?
FROST: I think it’s more magical because the first time, you could just say, “Okay, that was like a comet hit you in the head.” This time, we were steering the comet. It was our idea to get in it and try to take off again. This feels even more magical, in a way, than it did the first time.
Sheryl, what’s the best piece of direction that David Lynch has ever given you?
LEE: Oh, my gosh! I feel like I should have such a fabulous answer for you. This is one of those great questions where, at 2 o’clock in the morning, I’m going to wake up and I’m going to remember the best direction. I don’t have a quick short answer for you. I wish I did because your question deserves a great answer. One thing I always remember, that I just loved so much, was the way that David would talk to me, more than what he said. It was as if he was just taking me on the journey. He was taking me to that place where I needed to start the scene.
Your work on the show and in the movie was just so incredible! It was a pleasure to watch then, and I can’t wait to see more of it now.
LEE: Thank you so much! I got to work with some brilliant actors. Ray [Wise] and Grace [Zabriskie] are masters that I just got to sit with.
Twin Peaks airs on Sunday nights on Showtime.