When the body of a young girl washes up on a beach in a small Washington town, it’s up to FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper to investigate her strange demise. Can he uncover the mystery of the girl’s death and understand the other strange secrets he stumbles upon in the mysterious town of Twin Peaks? While the TV series, which earned a heavily devoted cult following, hasn’t aired in more than 15 years, it still finds new viewers and tells a riveting, strange, and oddly engaging story.
The ’90s Cult Classic Has Always Left Fans Wanting More
Despite only a few short seasons, fans of the show have eagerly awaited its return. In celebration of everything Twin Peaks-related we’ve hunted down some of the show’s little-known facts, behind the scenes gossip, and even a few of its crazy scandals.
Here are Twin Peaks facts that every superfan better know and every new fan should learn about right away.
The Political Demand That Never Received an Answer
The questions surrounding the death of Laura Palmer led many fans to hunt for clues as to how she died. At one point, financier Carl Lindler demanded to know the answer. He reportedly called Jules Haimovitz and said George Bush, who was then the President of the United States, wanted to know the answer.
Confusing his request even more, he claimed that Bush was only interested so he could spoil the ending for then U.S.S.R. leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The entire situation seemed incredibly far-fetched and the answer was not given to Haimovitz. We’re sure he wasn’t the only person who attempted to weasel out an answer from the show’s head honchos.
The Rural Purge Was Still Strong With The Show
When shows like Green Gables and The Beverly Hillbillies were killed off it became known as the “rural purge,” a phenomenon in which studios killed off shows that were centered around rural settings.
When Twin Peaks was getting ready to air, the town had a population of 5,120. Studio executives at ABC demanded that the sign be changed to read 51,201. When the “Visitor’s Guide to Twin Peaks” book was released, David Lynch and Mark Frost changed the population back to 5,120. They claimed that the city’s population sign simply had made an error in reporting the correct number of people in the sleepy town.
An Impressive Performance From The One-Armed Man
The one-armed man was only supposed to appear in a walk-on role for the show. The original goal was for the man to pay homage to the 1963 hit movie The Fugitive.
After writing the pilot for the European version of the pilot, Lynch decided to have the man recite the now infamous “Fire Walk With Me” poem. Lynch was so impressed by Al Strobel’s performance that he turned him into a central character. It’s hard to imagine what the TV series would have looked like without an integral recurring character like the one-armed man.
The Spoiler That Ended The Show In Germany
German TV network RTL didn’t have much luck when airing Twin Peaks and its problems started right from the first episode. Executives decided to end the popular cult classic after only 20 episodes.
Ratings quickly plummeted for Twin Peaks after rival network SAT1 revealed to its audience the identity of Laura’s murderer. With no mystery left and a strange plot that couldn’t keep viewers interested, the show was quickly canceled. Ratings weren’t spectacular from the start, probably because the big reveal was made before the TV series even had a chance to air the pilot episode for a German audience.
The Awesome Spin-off that Never Happened
David Lynch loved Sherilyn Fenn’s character Audrey Horne so much that he attempted to give the character a series of their very own. However, Audrey did inspire David Lynch to create Naomi Watts’ character for the movie Mulholland Drive.
During a 1997 interview, Fenn said Lynch had wanted her character to head over to Hollywood where she would engage in entirely new adventures of her very own. “She’s driving along Mulholland in this convertible car… But it didn’t end up happening,” she explained. These days Twin Peaks fans are begging for new plot lines and character appearances for the cult classic.
Those Conventions were all the Work of one Director
You can always tell when director Lesli Linka Glatter was directing an episode of Twin Peaks. She started her work with the show in 1990 when she filmed the Twin Peaks pilot episode.
During filming, there was a convention underway at Horne’s hotel. As a running gag, she later insisted that every episode she filmed had a different-themed convention be underway at the hotel when she made another appearance as the series’ director. It’s a subtle gag but one that has been a favorite among some of the show’s biggest supporters over the past 15 years.
The Show has a Strange Connection to Eraserhead
The more spatially aware followers of the Twin Peaks series have noticed that David Lynch paid homage to the popular 1977 film Eraserhead.
If you look down at the floor of the lobby of Henry’s house in Eraserhead you’ll notice a very specific pattern. In Twin Peaks, that same pattern is shrunken down and appears on Leland Palmer’s sports coat. You’ll find the pattern in the very first episode of the series. Look for Leland Palmer as he dances with Laura’s picture and you’ll spot the shout out. Lynch, as a lover of classic cinema, enjoyed making references to other movies.
The Dr. Jacoby Similarities Can’t Be Ignored
Dr. Jacoby was based on the famous ethnobotanist Terrence McKenna. It’s literally impossible to ignore the similarities between the character and the living man. Not only do both of the men look strikingly similar, they were also both professors of the liberal arts.
McKenna and his wife also lived in Hawaii, the same location that Dr. Jacoby would visit on his holidays. In a more subtle homage, Dr. Jacoby owned a mushroom-shaped lamp. Fans of McKenna known that he wrote extensively about the popular psychedelic mushroom culture. It’s quite the geeky reference but one that fans caught onto after the show started airing.
An Amalgamation Of Names
Sheryl Lee had the honor of playing two different characters on Twin Peaks. She played both Laura Palmer and her brunette cousin. This was another homage to films from the past.
In 1958, Kim Novak appeared in Vertigo where she played both a blonde and a brunette. One of her characters in that film was named Madeleine. James Stewart’s character in the film was called John Ferguson. Lynch took the names of the two characters to create Madeleine Ferguson. Look closely at the cult classic and you will notice tons of these references that you probably never knew existed until now.
Twin Peaks: The Theatrical Release
When Twin Peaks was first created it was shown as a single two-hour TV movie for its pilot. The TV show’s pilot was eventually broken up into a two-part arc for the short-lived show.
When the series made its way over to Europe, the show’s producers decided to bring the TV show to theaters. Europe was given a theatrical release for the show. It kept the name Twin Peaks when released to theaters in 1990. The show managed to air around the world but never reached the same level of cult status that his has managed to achieve in the United States.
The Luckiest Break he ever had
Don S. Davis played the role of Major Garland Briggs on Twin Peaks. After the show ended he said it was the “luckiest break” he ever received as an actor. He met with show creator David Lynch and the two men quickly hit it off.
He didn’t audition for the role but instead had his character written solely based on the chemistry he had with other cast members. Years after the show ended Davis said he developed some of his best friendships with the people he got to work with during the filming of Twin Peaks. He called those relationships “life-long friendships.”
A Seinfeld Reunion
Despite thousands of TV shows, movies, and other acting jobs, it’s not uncommon for actors and actresses to find themselves working together on multiple projects. Warren Frost and Grace Zabriskie played Dr. Hayward and Sarah Palmer on Twin Peaks, and before those roles they played the parents of Susan Ross.
You might recognize them both as the parents of George Costanza’s fiancée on Seinfeld. They teamed up for those roles in 1989. It is definitely easier to cast for chemistry when the actor and actress have already proven they could work together as a couple in the past.
Lynch’s Infamous Cameo
David Lynch appeared in Twin Peaks as the character known as Gordon Cole. His character was named after a minor character from the popular 1950 movie Sunset Boulevard.
Lynch has talked on many occasions about how Sunset Boulevard was a major influence in his own filmography. He would later credit that film with helping him form the basis for the hit movie Mulholland Drive, which debuted in 2001. If you ever want to determine whether a filmmaker is serious about their craf, the homage they pay to the past is always a good indicator of their influences and love of film.
The Mysterious Actor Fumio Yamaguchi
Piper Laurie revealed in her 2011 autobiography that she worked with David Lynch to hide the fate of her character, Catherine Martell. She was only allowed on set while wearing a “Japanese businessman” costume and prosthetic makeup.
The Twin Peaks cast and crew were told that she was a male Japanese movie actor named Fumio Yamaguchi who had worked mostly with the acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa. They even convinced the crew that Yamaguchi didn’t speak much English. Her name was removed from the credits and she was restricted from telling members of the press anything about her involvement in the remaining episodes of Twin Peaks.
When Marilyn Monroe’s Biopic Fell Through, Twin Peaks was Born
David Lynch and Mark Frost didn’t first embark together on the Twin Peaks project. The men actually started with an attempt to own the rights to the Marilyn Monroe biography “Goddess.”
Their plans fell through when they couldn’t get the rights to the book. Instead, they started working on Twin Peaks, a TV series that would contain elements of Marilyn Monroe’s story. They focused on the part of the Hollywood stars diary in which she claimed it was nearly time to tell the world about the famous men she had an affair with. Sometimes it’s just more interesting to have a Hollywood project incorporate moments from real life.
Book Tie-Ins, Nepotism and Missing Pages
Two official tie-in books were released as prequels to the series. They were titled The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. In a moment of nepotism, David Lynch hired his 21-year-old daughter, Jennifer Chambers Lynch, to write the latter.
She was given all of the TV show’s secrets so she could fully understand the characters and create a compelling story. The diary was written with several “missing pages” and attempted to make Ben Horne look like the guilty party. Protecting the TV shows real secret was of the highest priority.
But She’s Too Young!
Cooper’s love story with Audrey Horne was protested by Kyle MacLachlan. The actor believed that Sherilyn Fenn’s character was simply too young to take part in any type of romance. Ironically, the next love interest he would take was Heather Graham.
The actress was five years Fenn’s junior and she looked incredibly young when taking on the role. Perhaps there were other motives for MacLachlan’s protest of working with Fenn. He may have also realized that his attempts to get his way failed, or maybe he realized the vision David Lynch had for the TV show’s characters by that time.
A Show of a Different Name
When David Lynch started working on Twin Peaks it went by the name “Northwest Passage.” Josie Packard (played by Joan Chen) also went by a different name — Giovanna “Jo” Pasqualini Packard. That character was originally slated to be played by Isabella Rossellini, she also happened to be dating David Lynch at the time of the casting decision.
The TV show eventually received a new name and a new actress in the role. It does indicate that David Lynch likes to keep the people in his life close to his side during his projects — just as we saw with his daughter’s role in writing a prequel book to the TV series.
Character Development Gets the Axe
It’s not an uncommon practice for some scenes to be written, filmed, and then met with the cutting room knife. When David Lynch was creating Twin Peaks he planned to explore one relationship further.
Lynch filmed some scenes that openly explored the relationship between James Hurley, played by James Marshall, and his mother. With so many great scenes to choose from outside of that relationship, the filmed footage was replaced and the show went on. Fans sure would love to know how that relationship unfolded, especially with the knowledge that the footage may still exist somewhere in the vaults of ABC’s studios.
The Buck Stops Here
We’ve discussed in depth some of the homages that David Lynch paid to movies he loved, but he also had a special place in his cult TV series to point out popular culture.
Sheriff Harry S. Truman’s office features a buck’s head mounted on the wall with a plaque that reads “the buck stopped here.” Lynch intended for the message on the plaque to mimic a famous quote from Harry S. Truman. The former President of the United States of America was famous for saying, “the buck stops here.” You’ll never look at that poor buck’s head the same way again.