Do you know what happened at the conclusion of Twin Peaks: The Return? If you do, feel free to tell us. Because what we do know only adds to the mystery surrounding those final few moments: Mary Reber, the current, actual homeowner of the Palmer residence in Everett, Washington, portrayed the fictional homeowner Alice Tremond in the last scene, where she matter-of-factly informs Agent Cooper and Carrie Page that the Palmer family never resided in the home. Reber, who’s lived in the house for three years and has no prior acting experience, recently hopped on the phone with Vulture to discuss her big moment on the show.
How long have you been living in the house?
We purchased this house in September of 2014. We’ve been here since and love it. We really love this house. It was one of those things where we wanted to buy our first home and we thought we’d get a little more bang for our buck up in Everett. They had an open house and we found it that way.
Were you aware of its Twin Peaks significance before you bought it, and if fans were known to frequently visit?
We knew about Twin Peaks. Our son had told us about Twin Peaks. I was raising my young kids in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and didn’t happen to watch it then. But we started watching it about seven or eight years ago. We knew this was the Palmer home, but it’s not why we purchased the home. We just really loved the home and wanted to live in this specific area. We didn’t have any clue about what to expect with fans — but we love people and love bringing people through the home that haven’t been able to see it. And it’s a real joy to us.
Should I assume there’s been a massive uptick in visitors since The Return’s premiere?
Oh, yes, that’s kind of an understatement. [Laughs.] There’s been a lot of people coming through. Some people call and make an appointment to come in and see the house, and we’re happy to do so. We’ve met some great people from abroad. Obviously we don’t let everybody come through, but there’s been a lot of visitors since the finale in particular.
You’re so much nicer than the previous owners of the Full House house! They gave it a new paint job to dissuade people from visiting.
Oh, yeah, and think of the owners of the Breaking Bad house! They’re throwing pizzas on the roof of that place. So we’re hoping everybody keeps it low-key and just wants to come by and see the house. We’re happy to do so, because the lady who lived here beforehand didn’t let people see the house. So we’re getting people who watched the show when it originally aired and had been waiting to see the house. That’s really fun for us.
When you were initially contacted about using your home in The Return, were you given any indication that David Lynch wanted you to act in the scene?
That came much later, definitely.
When those conversations with David happened, what were they like?
The crew had revisited a lot of the locations, from what I understand, in late 2014 and early 2015. When they initially came here on New Year’s Day in 2015, they took a walk through the house. With those discussions then, we really had no idea what was going on. It was the second visit, which was a few months later, when I was standing in the kitchen and David walked up to me and said, Have you ever acted? I said no. Are you an actress at all, ma’am? I said not at all. Would you like to do a small part in the show? I said absolutely, that would be amazing. It’s really strange because when he did ask me, I told my husband when the crew left, and he said, Boy, that’s the only time I’ve seen you quiet! Because it really was quite the shock. Right away from that point, David said, I would just need you to be natural and act naturally. He put me at ease and made me feel like it would be a really great experience, and it was.
Was he forthcoming in wanting you to play the homeowner?
When he initially asked me if I wanted to do that small part, he didn’t tell me who it was. I had no idea what it would entail or any backstory whatsoever. So it was a surprise to me, too. You’re given your script shortly before you start filming, and that’s the first time I knew that I was going to be Alice Tremond. He didn’t tell me to act a certain way or do anything other than be natural. I had no idea how it fit into the story at all. I just did the part with Kyle and Sheryl and we had no idea. We didn’t know we were going to be in the final scene. Absolutely none until we saw it on our television. It’s amazing how David works — you just do your part and it all fits in and it’s a surprise to you, too. That particular scene was shot in one evening.
You did magnificently! And to share the scene with Kyle and Sheryl to boot.
It was a combination of a healthy fear and excitement. I’m not one to usually get up in front of people and talk, but David is such a fantastic director. He puts you at ease and you just do it. You can feel the excitement. It was just really cool. Kyle and Sheryl were probably two of my favorite people to have done a scene with. They were very encouraging at the same time, whenever we took a break. Great job! You’re doing a great job! It was a cool, smooth experience. One of the really fun things for me, since I’ve never done this before, was walking into the makeup and hair trailer and looking over to my left and seeing Cooper’s slicked-back hair. I was like, wow, this is really cool. I tried not to geek out or anything, I tried to act cool! I was sitting there and getting made up, and Sheryl was sitting next to me and we chatted a little bit. It was neat to be able to talk to both of them before the scene, I think that really helped.
Why do you think David felt it was important to have you, the actual homeowner, play the homeowner in the show?
I have absolutely no clue, and if you ask him that type of question, which we did, he said: That’s something you just don’t need to know. And that was fine with us — we did what we needed to do. I did my part, and that’s how it all turned out. We’re supposed to kind of not know, in a way. What happened in the show is based on a lot of people’s interpretations.
Were your neighbors concerned with all of Sheryl’s screams?
Thankfully, the location people did such a great job going to each house within the “scream zone” and gave them a piece of paper that said there was going to be some filming late at night, and there was going to be some screaming, and to not call the police or do anything rash. The people who didn’t want to be around weren’t around, and the people who did were circling around the house trying to see what was going on.
I still have the chills from those screams.
Oh, I know, same! [Laughs.] And we actually have the television that Sarah Palmer watched her shows on in the living room. That’s our television set. So it was cool to watch the finale on that TV. So many layers!