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Why legendary filmmaker David Lynch returned to ‘Twin Peaks’

David Lynch
Actor Kyle MacLachlan and Sherilyn Fenn in the 1990-1991 cult TV show “Twin Peaks.”
David Lynch discusses a scene for the 2001 film ‘Mulholland Drive’ with actress Naomi Watts.

You might not know David Lynch, but you should. Whether creating for the big screen or the small, he’s a true original. His work is often imitated, but never surpassed. But let’s get one thing out of the way — it’s weird.
It feels different from everything else out there. You may feel at home in his world, but you’ll never get comfortable, never quite sure what’s happening and why. Films such as “Blue Velvet” (1986), “Mulholland Drive” (2001) and “Lost Highway” (1997), as well as his most well known TV project, “Twin Peaks”, are seductive, entertaining and re-watchable.
But what do they mean? Well, that part you may never figure out. Not that they are puzzles to be solved — Lynch’s work resists easy interpretation of any kind, which is what keeps you thinking about them.
David Lynch himself is quite the same. When I walk into a hotel room in Hollywood, California, to talk to Lynch about the upcoming third season of “Twin Peaks,” airing exclusively on Starz Play in Saudi Arabia and MENA starting Monday, he’s all smiles, friendly and happy to see me though this is the first time we’ve met.
He laughs at my jokes and spends the first part of our time together asking me about myself. But when we turn to talking about him and his work, there’s a change in tone. Lynch is careful to say exactly what he means and nothing more and sometimes it can give the impression that he’s said nothing at all.
“A few years ago, you said you didn’t want to do another season of ‘Twin Peaks.’ So what changed your mind?” I ask.
“(‘Twin Peaks’ co-creator) Mark Frost called me and asked me to go to Musso & Frank restaurant and have lunch. We started talking and it just happened to be about 25 years later,” he says.
Just in case you’re not a fan — that has huge significance in the world of “Twin Peaks.” Early on in the first season, the lead character, an FBI special agent named Dale Cooper, has a dream in which he meets the dead girl whose murder he’s trying to solve, and in it, he’s in a red room and he’s 25 years older.
Throughout the show, that scene and that red room become more and more important and by the end of the initial run of the show, we’re left to think that maybe it was no coincidence that Cooper saw himself exactly 25 years later.
From Lynch’s answer, of course, you’d never know that.
I try to lead him into that further. “…Which as we know has huge significance for the show.”
“Right,” Lynch says, and nothing else.
I knew this wouldn’t be easy.
“Was that the guiding principle with which you got re-interested in the material?” I ask.
“That was part of it, yeah. And the love of the world and the characters.”
“Which characters stuck with you most in the interim?” I retorted.
“All of them. They’re like family and the world with them in it was something that I would think about.”
Something else important to point out is that Lynch is a fan of transcendental meditation, or “TM.” He’s been doing it since the 1970s and it has been integral to how he views the world and how he approaches his work. The last time he tried to do a television show was in the 1990s and he even got as far as to film a pilot. When the pilot was rejected, he meditated and came up with a new way to approach the material. He filmed new scenes, cut much of what he’d already filmed and what was once a failed TV pilot became one of the most acclaimed films of the new century — “Mulholland Drive.”
There’s a deep thoughtfulness to Lynch, one that often transcends words, which is why words can be such a frustrating way to communicate with him.
“When you started re-approaching the material, how was the creative process? Did you start getting images?” I ask, knowing that the images he gets, sometimes in meditation, are a key to his process.
“We worked together. Sometimes Mark would come to my house, but pretty soon, we started Skyping with one another. Mark was living in Ojai and I was living in LA, and so we would Skype and that worked out really well — catching ideas, talking, and one thing leads to another and then one day there it is.”
“When you went back to filming this, did you have certain ideas of how you wanted it to look? Did you want it to feel the same?”
“We wanted to follow the ideas that came,” he answered.
There, right there, is the most David Lynch-style answer I’d gotten so far. Did he answer my question? Yes and no. I felt shut down, but, when I looked back on it later, I realized he hadn’t. What he meant was he didn’t go in with intentions. He wanted to let the new season develop organically.
“Could you tell me about how you put together this cast?” I ask.
“In the ideas, certain people appear, and then you want to get them,” says Lynch.
“Did you have people asking to be part of this? I know you had people coming to you wanting to be a part of your last project set in this world, in the film “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me,’ ” I ask.
“You want to get the right person for the role. That’s what you try to do. It’s always the same — the right person for the role.”
“But you can’t tell me about ...”
“No,” Lynch laughs.
Sometimes he answers mysteriously — other times he just doesn’t want to answer the question.
“Looking back on your film career, do you find yourself thinking about all your different characters?” I ask.
“Sure. From time to time,” he says, “and I always say it’s good, once in a while, to go back and look at earlier work, as it might give a kind of a something for the work you’re doing now. It’s sometimes good to go back.”

“Twin Peaks” was as legendary off the screen as it was on. At the time, Lynch was one of the most famous avant-garde filmmakers in Hollywood — the toast of film festivals worldwide — so the idea that he wanted to make a primetime soap opera turned a lot of heads.
Things started off very well: Around a third of all active TV viewers in the US tuned in to watch the “Twin Peaks” two-hour pilot. But as season two came along, things got notoriously contentious between Frost and Lynch, the executives and the viewers themselves. Viewers tuned out en masse and what was once a phenomenon ended with a whimper, though Lynch and Frost still got to end it creatively on their own terms.
“Television has caught up, in a lot of ways, to what you were trying to do with ‘Twin Peaks,’ ” I say to Lynch. “They are a lot more accommodating today to meeting someone’s vision of what they want something to be. So, how difficult was it for you to get the budget that you needed, the creative boost that you needed from everyone around you?”
“Well, we got what we needed,” Lynch laughs.
“I know there was a time when you thought of stepping away from the project entirely…” I say.
“Mmm, when maybe we wouldn’t get what we needed,” Lynch deadpans, leaving a silence hanging over us for a moment.
I pivot. “Could you see yourself doing more television in the future? A different sort of project?”
“Sure. The idea dictates everything. You get an idea for building something in the wood shop, and if I fell in love with that, I would do that next. If something comes along that you fall in love with, then that’s what you do,” says Lynch.
Lynch has not made a feature film since 2006’s “Inland Empire,” which was divisive even among Lynch’s fans.
“In terms of feature films, since you made your last film, have you just not caught any ideas for features, or did you push them away?”
“There were a couple of times when there were things that I thought I wanted to do and then for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. I think feature films are in trouble, the art houses are dead, so cable television being at a place for a continuing story told with freedom is a beautiful thing,” says Lynch.
“As you were saying, the art house is dying and television is the way…” I say, but Lynch cuts me off.
“Not dying, dead.”
“Dead, then,” I laugh. “Do you view a lot of the work that’s out there, or are you closed off to your own work?”
“No, I don’t see anything,” says Lynch.
A silence hangs for a moment, before Lynch’s smile returns.
“It’s good talking to you!”
“You as well!”

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