The 39th Seattle International Film Festival heads into the homestretch with dozens of films worth seeing (see thestranger.com/siff for full info) and one very special event: An Evening with Kyle MacLachlan, wherein the Northwest-native-turned-Hollywood-star submits himself for an onstage Q&A (complete with career-spanning clip reel!), then joins the lucky crowd in watching the 90-minute pilot of the show that gave him his greatest role, David Lynch's Twin Peaks. In advance of the June 3 extravaganza, I chatted up Kyle MacLachlan by phone.
You've starred in a number of projects that people will love forever—Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Showgirls. When you were making these, did you know that you were making something special and enduring?
Every project has its own life. Dune was my first film experience, and I loved it. What's not to love? I was 23, and it was an amazing thing, going from 99-seat equity-waiver theater at the Empty Space to seven months on location in Mexico City for a huge Hollywood film with a huge international crew and huge expectations. But then with Blue Velvet, we were just kind of off on our own—Dennis, Isabella, Laura, and me, in Wilmington. No one knew how it would all play out. That's the same with every film, even TV pilots: You expect it to be one thing, then it becomes whatever it is.
Both Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks found you working in David Lynch's lightly stylized "aw, shucks" manner. Do you remember how you were directed into it?
In Blue Velvet, I was kind of a chip of wood on a river, just going the direction of the river. But for Twin Peaks, I modeled Cooper on David's idiosyncrasies, how he takes real pleasure in simple things, like a cup of coffee or Douglas fir trees. He's also—I don't know how to describe this, but he's comfortable going into darker places, kind of as an observer, and he helps the actors as they delve into darker places, and makes it okay. You feel like he's with you. I certainly felt that as Jeffrey [in Blue Velvet]. I had a partner.
Twin Peaks was met with immediate, explosive acclaim. What was that like for you? Did you have any idea what you were unleashing?
I remember I was off filming a very forgettable movie, and people were discussing the [Twin Peaks] pilot. Then the phone calls started to come in about how great the pilot was, and suddenly I became aware there was this buzz... so that was kind of fun. Then they screened it at the Museum of Television in New York, and I thought, "This really holds up on the big screen..." That's when I knew we had something special.
An Evening with Kyle MacLachlan is sold out, but standby tickets may be available at the door on Monday, June 3, at SIFF Cinema Uptown. The Seattle International Film Festival continues through June 9; info at thestranger.com/siff.
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