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42 Surreal Facts About Twin Peaks

Steven Y

Take a trip with me to the Pacific Northwest, to a sleepy forest town replete with mountains, mystery and murder. Though it only remained on the air for a brief time, Twin Peaks became an instant cult classic—one so beloved that the show’s eventual return to television seemed inevitable. Settle in with some good, hot, black coffee and a slice of cherry pie, because here are 42 surreal facts about Twin Peaks


Twin Peaks Facts

42. Peak Performance

The premiere of the Twin Peaks reboot led to the biggest single-day and weekend signups in Showtime’s history.

41. Reduced Roles

While many stars wanted to appear in Fire Walk with Me—including Kiefer Sutherland and Harry Dean Stanton—and took pay cuts to do so, some Twin Peaks veterans were declined to take part. MacLachlan reluctantly agreed, on the condition he only have minimal screen time. To fill Dale Cooper’s role, Lynch created the part of Chester Desmond, which he gave to Chris Isaak.

40. Star Man

David Bowie appeared in Fire Walk with Me as Phillip Jefferies. Bowie had plans to return to the role for the 2016 reboot, but sadly passed away before getting the chance.

39. “Brought to Light” Reading

Dale Cooper’s favorite book is The Warren Commission, a nod to Twin Peaks’ conspiratorial roots.

38. That’s A Pass

The show was originally to be called “Northwest Passage.” Composer Angelo Badalamenti persuaded Lynch to change the title, telling him he’d read a story by that name back in grade school

37. 20 Minute Masterpiece

It took Angelo Badalamenti just twenty minutes to write “Love Theme,” the primary theme music to Twin Peaks; the musicians hadn’t even seen any footage of the show when the song was recorded.

36. Way Out West

Frost and Lynch really wanted to convey a sense of isolation and removal from society. Twin Peaks was originally meant to be set on the plains of North Dakota, but was moved when Frost and Lynch decided a forest setting would be more mysterious.

35. Population Explosion

The town itself was supposed to only have a population of 5,120. Executives at ABC felt the town would be too small, and added a “1” to the end, bringing the population of Twin Peaks, WA to a more relatable 51,201, but honestly, if you’ve watched the show 5,120 would make way more sense.

34. Creative Characters

Sheryl Lee, who played Laura Palmer, had only done community theatre when she landed the role. Lynch liked her so much, he created a lookalike character, cousin Maddy, to give Lee a better chance to show off her acting chops.

33. Photographic Evidence

An online myth suggests the Laura Palmer photo is, in fact, Sheryl Lee’s real prom photo. While we hate to burst your bubble, the truth is photographer Kimberly Wright, a friend of Lynch’s, took the photo for the show. It was, according to Wright, her first professional photo shoot.

32. deR mooR ehT

For the “red room” scenes, the actors had to learn how to say their lines backwards. This proved difficult for everyone except for Michael J. Anderson, The Man From Another Place. Anderson, a former NASA technician, developed a talent for talking backwards as a kid. Lynch repaid Anderson’s efficiency by giving him increasingly complicated lines.

31. Room at the Inn

Planning on making your own pilgrimage to Twin Peaks? Why not spend the night at the Great Northern Lodge? The Salish Lodge and Spa, operated by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, served as the location for the Twin Peaks getaway. It’s still open for business, letting out rooms for $230 a night.

30. David Lynch, Job Creator

Just as Lynch created the character of Maddie for Sheryl Lee, he created the part of Shelly for Mädchen Amick. Amick had tried out for the role of Donna Hayward, which went to Lara Flynn Boyle, but Lynch still wanted to include Amick. Amick didn’t realize this at the time, and was pleasantly surprised years later when she learned the role was created just for her.

29. Extra Edits

In 2014, Lynch and Frost released The Missing Pieces. A feature-length film comprised of deleted scenes from Fire Walk with Me, it fills in gaps left in the 1992 prequel, and is considered a canonical piece of Twin Peaks lore.

28. All in the Family

Eileen Hayward was played by Mary Jo Deschanel; Mary Jo’s husband, Caleb Deschanel, directed three episodes. And while the couple felt their children were too young to watch the show, they invited their daughters, Zooey and Emily, to hang out on the set.

27. Hollywood Royalty

Amber Tamblyn’s father and Rashida Jones’ mother also worked on the show. So did George Clooney’s cousin, Blake Lively’s half-sister, Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal’s father, and Kyle MacLachlan’s brother. Frost’s father and Lynch’s son also appear in the series. Basically, anyone related to anyone else was on Twin Peaks.

26. The Director

Steven Spielberg was a big fan of the show, and volunteered to direct the second season premiere. Spielberg promised to make the episode “as weird as possible,” but sadly it didn’t work out and Lynch directed the episode himself.

25. The Directress

Unlike Spielberg, Diane Keaton did get the chance to direct an episode, season two’s “Slaves and Masters.”

24. Damn Fine Coffee

The series was spoofed in a series of tv commercials for Georgia Canned Coffee in Japan. Kyle MacLachlan, Mädchen Amick, and Catherine Coulson all appeared as their Twin Peaks characters. The question remains: are those commercials canon?

23. An Eerie Premonition

In the series finale, which aired in June of 1991, Dale Cooper is visited by a ghostly vision of Laura Palmer, who says “I’ll see you in 25 years.” Fans could be forgiven for thinking it was just a random cryptic statement; one that, sadly, would never pay off. Time went on, years passed. However, when Showtime announced they would be rebooting the series, loyal fans were quick to note the announcement was made in October of 2014—25 years after the series finale.

22. A Vast Global Conspiracy

Gorbachev later denied the story, claiming he’d never even heard of Twin Peaks. Suuuuuure Micky.

21. Top Secret

Lynch did not reveal the killer to Gorbachev—or anyone else. Even the cast and crew were given phony scripts, complete with bolded warnings not to leave them anywhere or share any information, all to protect the killer’s identity.

20. Quit Reading My Diary!

To cash in on Twin Peaks’ surprising popularity, publisher Simon and Schuster released The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, a facsimile of Laura Palmer’s private journals which detailed her secret life leading up to her murder. The book, which reached #1 on the New York Times’ best seller list, was written by Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer.

19. Master of Disguise

Lynch’s secrecy sometimes went to ridiculous extremes. When it looked like Catherine Martell had been killed, Lynch ordered the actress, Piper Laurie, to be made up as a Japanese man, and did not allow her to speak. Lynch then told the entire crew she was an actor named Fumio Yamaguchi, who had been hired to play a Japanese businessman and who spoke no English. While few in the cast believed Lynch’s story about the “Japanese actor” (because, duh), no one guessed it was Laurie under the makeup.

18. You Don’t Say

ABC executives demanded Lynch and Frost reveal Laura Palmer’s killer in the second season. They had been pressuring the creators to do so since the first season, and were shocked when ratings dropped after the reveal. It apparently hadn’t occurred to them that solving a mystery means…well, the end of the mystery.

17. Taking It To Their Graves

In fairness to the ABC executives, Lynch and Frost had been fairly open about their plans to never reveal the answer to the Twin Peaks riddle.

16. Spoiled!

One German network did find out the name of the killer before their viewers. Unfortunately, that network was not the one airing Twin Peaks. With the show already on a three month delay, German network Sat1 revealed the identity of killer on their news program. Soon after, on rival network RTL, ratings for the show plummeted, and the show was cancelled in Germany with just eight episodes remaining.

15. German Names

While they didn’t stay the course, RTL was actually responsible for the show’s episode titles. Originally, episodes of Twin Peaks were simply numbered. The German networks titles were later translated to English for the official website and on Netflix.

14. Had Twins Peaked?

Though the show was cancelled after its second season, it was followed up by the prequel film Fire Walk with Me. It remains a cult classic, but failed badly at the box office, and was even booed by audiences at the Cannes Film Festival. Ouch.

13. On Second Thought

Twin Peaks returned to television in 2016. Its two-hour premiere was shown at the Cannes Film Festival where, 24 years earlier, audiences had booed Fire Walk with Me. This time premier received a standing ovation.

12. “I Wood Never Let You Go”

After the show was finished, producers let Catherine Coulson—the “Log Lady”—keep her log, which she enjoyed taking to conventions. Fans even tried buying the log for $275,000, but Coulson and her log would not be parted.

11. A Marriage Erased

Not that Coulson had a hard time letting go—she was once married to Jack Nance, a frequent Lynch collaborator who played Henry Spencer in Eraserhead and Pete Martell in Twin Peaks.

10. The Secret History of Twin Peaks

With the announcement of Twin Peaks’ return to television, Mark Frost released The Secret History of Twin Peaks. The book records a pattern of strange events in the town’s history, including alien abductions and miraculous visions, dating back to Lewis and Clark’s arrival in the area. A companion book, The Secret History of Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, was released at the end of the third season.

9. Return to Twin Peaks

The reboot meant a tracking down a lot of actors from the original series. More than 39 cast members returned. Everett McGill hadn’t acted in 17 years but came out of retirement to reprise his role as Ed Hurley.

8. Just Dropping In

The full name of Kyle MacLachlan’s FBI investigator is Dale Bartholomew Cooper. Most fans have correctly identified this as a reference to D.B. Cooper, a mysterious man who hijacked a plan in 1971, held the crew and passengers for ransom, and then parachuted from the plane somewhere over the woods of Washington state, never to be seen again.

Twin Peaks Facts

7. Unelected

The name of the sheriff, Harry Truman, is also a historical reference, but not to the post-war president. Harry Truman also happens to be the name of…well, Harry Truman, a Washington man who refused to leave his home when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, saying “If the mountain goes, well I’m going with it.” Truman was presumed killed in the disaster, but that has never been confirmed…

6. Actual Royalty

According to none other than Paul McCartney, the Queen of England supposedly left a party at Buckingham Palace because she didn’t want to miss an episode. And the show still got cancelled!

5. Chain of Command

According to one Peaks insider, former Soviet chairman Mikhail Gorbachev was a big fan, too, going so far as to enlist President George H.W. Bush to help him get spoilers. Gorbachev called Bush, who called financier Carl Lindler, who called producer Aaron Spelling, who called producer Jude Haimovitz, who called David Lynch, pleading to know who killed Laura Palmer.

4. Love Triangle

Fans couldn’t help but notice the chemistry between MacLachlan and Amick, and many hoped the two would be sharing an onscreen romance. Lynch was only too happy to oblige, but MacLachlan quickly quashed the idea, saying Shelly would be too young for Dale Cooper. According to some insiders, however, MacLachlan was pressured to decline the storyline by Lara Flynn Boyle, whom he was dating at the time.

3. Just a Number

With the Cooper/Shelly relationship off limits, Heather Graham was brought in as Annie to serve as Cooper’s love interest. Graham is five years younger than Amick, but apparently this wasn’t a problem for MacLachlan—or Boyle.

2. Wrong Place at the Right Time

The actor who played Bob wasn’t an actor at all—he was the show’s set decorator, Frank Silva. Although Lynch had filmed a shot of Silva crouching by Laura’s bed prior to creating the Bob character, he’d just done it because he liked the image—he never planned on using the shot for the show. However, Lynch realized later that Silva had been accidentally caught on camera in some scenes with Laura Palmer’s mother, Sarah, with his face appearing in a mirror behind her. Rather than living with the mistake, Lynch actually created a whole new character to explain away the appearance. 

1. Goodbye, Norma Jean

Creators David Lynch and Mark Frost hit upon the idea for Twin Peaks while working on a biopic about Marilyn Monroe. That project fizzled out—probably because Lynch and Frost implicated JFK in Monroe’s death—but elements of the biopic remained in Twin Peaks.

Sources1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16


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