For David Lynch, Coming Back to Twin Peaks Was Like Rolling Off a Log

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“People want to know. I just can’t tell them,” says David Lynch. Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

As Twin Peaks returns to TV, its iconic creator has a few things to say about it. Very few things, it turns out.

Twin Peaks has become a common shorthand description for darkly comic and surreal TV shows. Do you see that influence out there in the world?
No. I don’t see it at all.

What do you think people mean when they say something is “like Twin Peaks”?
It probably means something more about the person making the comparison than it does about Twin Peaks.

Do you find it frustrating to be asked questions about Twin Peaks?
Nothing bothers me about it. People want to know. I just can’t tell them.

What would you like to talk about?
I could talk about Transcendental Meditation! The technique is available for all human beings, it makes life better, it gets rid of negativity and brings in more and more positivity until you’re just absolutely packed full of positivity. It brings in the gold and allows you to say good-bye to the garbage. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, how much money you have, how —

I know, I know. I do it.
That’s great, David!

Since you don’t like discussions about Twin Peaks, how do you feel about the fact that the show’s fans were — and are — so obsessive? The existence of the internet means they’re going to be even more obsessive this time around.
I think it’s good. Before, I’m sure people thought about the show, but they didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. Now they have millions of people to talk to about it. I think it’s real good.

What are you obsessive about?
Work.

Is there anyone you talk to about your work?
No. I do it.

After being away from the world of Twin Peaks for so long, was it hard to find your way back into the atmosphere of the show and the minds of the characters?
It was just like rolling off a log.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
It’s a very good thing, David. It’s hard to stay on a log. It’s easy to roll off.

You could hit your head, though.
That would be bad, David. I mean to say I know the world of Twin Peaks. You get Douglas firs in that part of the Pacific Northwest rather than ponderosa pine. I love vertical-grain Douglas-fir plywood. I love that world and all the characters from the original series. It feels like only a moment ago we were working on the original and then, a moment later, we’re stepping back into it. It’s just like that.

Was it just as easy for the cast?
It was easy for everyone.

The second season of Twin Peaks, when it was revealed who killed Laura Palmer, was considered by many to be a letdown. What did you learn from that?
The second season, you know, the network put pressure on us to solve the mystery, and once you know who killed Laura Palmer, we were never able to get going creatively. So you’re right about that, but there aren’t any rules I apply to the process. You try and stay true to the ideas, you work until every element feels correct, and then you see how they go out into the world.

When you did Twin Peaks the first time, TV was very much seen as a step-down from film. Now the two mediums’ prestige has essentially flipped. Are your feelings about doing TV different from what they were in 1990?
On the first Twin Peaks, doing TV was like going from a mansion to a hut. But the art houses are gone now, so cable television is a godsend — they’re the new art houses. You’ve got tons of freedom to do the work you want to do on TV, but there is a restriction in terms of picture and sound. The range of television is restricted. It’s hard for the power and the glory to come through. In other words, you can have things in a theater much louder and also much quieter. With TV, the quieter things have to be louder and the louder things have to be quieter, so you have less dynamics. The picture quality — it’s fine if you have a giant television with a good speaker system, but a lot of people will watch this on their laptops or whatever, so the picture and the sound are going to suffer big time. Optimally, people should be watching TV in a dark room with no disturbances and with as big and good a picture as possible and with as great sound as possible.

Is that how you watch TV at home?
That’s how I watch TV. [Laughs.]

Why did that make you laugh?
I don’t know.

*This article appears in the May 15, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

Lynch: Returning to Twin Peaks Was Like Rolling Off a Log