SDCC 2017: Twin Peaks “Damn Good Panel”

HELLoooooOOOOO Twin Peaks fans! If you’re anything like me, you’ve got major FOMO about missing that SDCC panel, but here’s a roundup of some of the highlights we all missed.

The Twin Peaks “Damn Good Panel” was full of fun and surprises. It was moderated by Damon Lindelof (LOST and The Leftovers). It’s no secret that Lindelof’s work was highly influenced by the original series and his introduction was a touching tribute to a show that changed his life, as it did for so many fans. Lindelof spoke about how, before he found Twin Peaks, he had felt like an outcast and “a weirdo”—a sentiment I shared and that I wrote about in my own piece on fandom. Like so many of us, Lindelof found Twin Peaks and “suddenly [he] was not alone.” His panel introduction was a love letter to the show that I could have written myself. So many of us feel the same way about Twin Peaks and I can’t think of anyone better suited to moderate the panel. Thanks to Superfan Jeff “Doc” Jensen over at Entertainment Weekly, You can read Lindelof’s full introduction speech below.

Twin Peaks transcripts CR: Showtime
Source: Jeff Jensen / Entertainment Weekly
Twin Peaks transcripts CR: Showtime
Source: Jeff Jensen / Entertainment Weekly

There was a special SDCC-exclusive video from David Lynch himself, which was more of a short film than a traditional welcome video. I haven’t managed to get my hands on a copy but needless to say, it sounds very Lynchian and involves a Lynch, a horse, a severed arm, a gold ball, a woman with a gun, and O.J. Simpson.

Our beloved Agent Cooper, Kyle MacLachlan, greeted the Hall H crowd with a big Mr. Jackpots-style HELLooooOOOOOO! Lindelof asked the original series cast how they were brought back to Twin Peaks by David Lynch and Mark Frost. MacLachlan told the audience that he received a “cryptic phone call” from Lynch, who told him he couldn’t talk about it on the phone. “I thought I was in trouble,” he said, but luckily for Kyle (and for us) the meeting was about The Return. They met in a hotel room in New York, over coffee of course, and Lynch told him that he and Frost had “found a way back to Twin Peaks” and was he interested. Kyle’s response: “I’ve never left Twin Peaks.”

Lindelof asked Everett McGill (“Big Ed Hurley”) how Lynch got in touch with him. Someone on Twitter was able to locate him and eventually Lynch got a phone number for a house McGill uses to keep some cars. He just happened to be there when he got the call. “I haven’t heard this damn phone ring for ten years,” Everett said, but when he picked up it was Lynch. He hadn’t spoken to Lynch in twenty years but Everett said it “just felt so comfortable” talking to him. They didn’t talk about The Return at that point, but when Lynch eventually told him that he was bringing back Twin Peaks, Everett told him, “Just call me when it’s time to suit up.”

Dana Ashbrook (“Bobby Briggs”) heard about The Return on his way to the Twin Peaks UK Festival with Sheryl Lee (“Laura Palmer”). Sheryl had already heard from Lynch about The Return and asked if Dana would be in it (and if she could tell him about it). Dana said that he was “walking on air” during their London trip after getting the news. Sheryl and Dana also took selfies and sent them to Lynch—Laura Palmer and Bobby Briggs, together again!

Kimmy Robertson (“Lucy Brennan”) was in bed when she received the call, and over the course of her phone call with Lynch she managed to slide off the bed and somehow end up underneath it. I would say that’s strange but I can’t say I wouldn’t end up doing the same if I was speaking to David Lynch on the phone.

kimmy panel
Source: New York Daily News

New cast member Naomi Watts (“Janey-E Jones”) has kept in touch with Lynch since she worked with him on Mulholland Drive. Once she heard the rumors that Twin Peaks was returning, she “dropped some hints” to Lynch that she would like to be involved. She did a decent David Lynch impression of when she finally got the call. “Naomi,” she said as Lynch, while fake smoking a cigarette, “come up to the house. I want you to read something.” Lynch had her read just Janey-E’s scenes with no context, and some of the Janey-E scenes were even redacted. At the time she didn’t even know that Kyle was playing “Dougie.”

kyle naomi
Source: Just Jared

Another new cast member, Matthew Lillard (“Bill Hastings”) came into The Return never having seen the original series, and he still hasn’t! “I’m gonna watch it tonight,” he joked. He’s watching The Return as it airs and describes it as “pretty strange… I mean, you guys saw episode 8, right? That’s crazy.” When Lindelof asked him what he thought Lynch saw in him, Matthew replied humbly: “I honestly have no idea how I got here.” Matthew described the casting process and how, even after reading the pages, he had no idea how it was going to go. “My biggest fear,” he said, “was that I was gonna do something horrible and naked in the show. When you’re reading a David Lynch script, you have no idea where it’s going to go.” Lillard says that reading the script for his scene in episode 9 “was intimidating. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever read as an actor… in [Lynch’s] world you get two takes… you do your thing and you move on, so you want to be really good, really fast.”

matthew panel
Source: Digital Spy

Newcomer Tim Roth (“Gary ‘Hutch’ Hutchens”) said he was a huge Eraserhead and Blue Velvet fan but was very new to Twin Peaks. He had met Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer Lynch, but not David before starting the project. Roth said he got the call for The Return and said yes instantly, and working on the show was a nice reunion with his The Hateful Eight co-star Jennifer Jason-Leigh (“Chantal Hutchens”).

Lindelof asked new cast member Don Murray (“Bushnell Mullins”) what it is like doing scenes with Kyle as “Dougie,” who doesn’t say much. Murray said that it was challenging because when he got his scene, “it was four pages long and solid dialogue, and the other characters just said a word or two.” Don worked with his son, also an actor, and they ran the scene ten times per day for ten days before shooting. Don had nothing but positive things to say about the atmosphere on set and described it as “one of the happiest sets I’ve ever worked on.” According to Don, there was a very relaxed vibe on set and a sense of togetherness and equality between the cast and crew. “It became one of the great experiences of my life,” he said.

Kyle MacLachlan is the only cast member who was given the entire script to read and the rest of the actors were only given their scenes, so they are watching the show with only slightly more knowledge than the rest of us viewers. Lindelof asked the panel about the experience of watching The Return unfold as it airs and how they are watching it. Kyle, who read the script but has not seen the episodes ahead of time, answered, “I like to watch it home alone with a glass of wine.” [For the record, this is also how I like to watch it.] Naomi hasn’t watched it yet and is saving it all to watch in big chunks. Tim also hasn’t seen it and plans to wait until it’s done and then watch the entire series at once, starting with the original series.

Dana is watching and said that, as an original cast member, it’s exciting for him to watch Kyle get to do all the different things he gets to do in the new series, as well as to see new people like Naomi and Tim in the Twin Peaks universe. He’s also excited about the work he got to do. “Bobby got a good arc,” he said, and as a huge Bobby Briggs fan, I couldn’t agree more.

tim dana panel
Source: Synacor

Lindelof asked the cast what question they get most from fans and they answered as a group, “What is David Lynch like?” Then a Lynch love-fest ensued. Matthew described him as having “an incredible sense of joy about him.” Kyle chimed in, “He’s fantastic… his belief in his process and his vision and his point of view is so profound and focused, and he inspires me that way because he follows this dream in his mind, and I find that inspirational.” Don said that Lynch “shows great appreciation for other people’s work,” and going home after a day’s work with Lynch “makes you feel good about yourself and about the world.”

Highlights from the Fan Q&A

– When a fan asked, “What added story material do cast members bring to each episode?” Kyle told a story about Jim Belushi (“Bradley Mitchum”) ad-libbing a line on set one day. Lynch yelled “CUT” and got on his megaphone to Belushi. Kyle did an A+ Lynch impression of him saying, “Mr. Belushi, do I have to report you to the principal’s office?”

– When asked for their Dougie Hot Takes, Naomi answered, “He’s hot.” Kimmy chimed in with a Too Real observation about married life with kids in the ‘burbs: “it’s very easy to slip through the cracks and say one word a month without anyone noticing. And what wife wouldn’t like that?” Dana noted that Dougie is pretty ripped, to which Kyle responded, “No donuts for that month!”

– Matthew Lillard doesn’t remember whether he wrote “9/20” or “9/29” in Part 9 so the debate rages on. [I’m team 9/29 for the record.]

– All Kyle really had to do for the Black Lodge scenes was walk backwards and sit down whereas the other actors had to learn the reverse-speech dialogue. Kyle says doing Black Lodge scenes feels “very focused and almost like electricity is buzzing around… that floor gives you a whole different state of being.”

– Kyle likes to call his doppelganger character “Mr. C” as opposed to the many iterations floating around the web like DoppelCoop (my fav), Evil Cooper, Bad Cooper, Dirty Cooper, etc.

– Matthew Lillard did his Shaggy impression for a fan who asked but he wishes he could get away from that character and “would like that to be done.” Honestly, I can’t blame him. But then he said, “Hack the Planet!” so that made up for the Shaggy impression and then some.

– Someone who has never seen Twin Peaks (and was taking up space and a question that could have been had by an actual fan…) asked the panel to describe the show in a nutshell. Kyle’s response: “Throw the nut away.”

– Kyle had no idea what The Evolution of the Arm was going to look like until he watched the show so he saw that bizarro brain tree for the first time with the rest of us.

cast panel
Source: Just Jared

All in all, it was an interesting panel, although there were reports of a lot of empty seats in Hall H after the Game of Thrones panel cleared out. Many Twin Peaks fans in line outside could not get in even though they had passes and there were more than enough seats left during the Damn Good Panel. Sounds like SDCC did not do right by the Twin Peaks fans in attendance.

Finally, an important announcement: Twin Peaks: The Return is moving to Sunday nights at 8:00pm starting August 6th. Mark your calendars!

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Author: Ali Sciarabba

Twitter: @alimscribbles

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