One of the least noticed aspects of the recent explosion of TV reboots is that it’s led to a whole lot of actors getting high-profile work for the first time in years. This was especially the case with the recently concluded Twin Peaks: The Return, which brought back a lot of faces that had been absent from TV screens for the better part of three decades.
Kyle MacLachlan, the star of Twin Peaks then and now, was far from absent from screens during the 25 years Twin Peaks was off the air. He had long guest arcs on everything from Sex and the City to Desperate Housewives to How I Met Your Mother, while gaining starring roles in a handful of short-lived network and cable dramas, like In Justice and Made in Jersey.
But MacLachlan’s turn in the Twin Peaks revival was something different. In fact, it was so superlative, and so demonstrative of his versatility as an actor, that it shows he’s ready for another run in movies- and possibly even a shot as a Hollywood leading man.
…it shows he’s ready for another run in movies- and possibly even a shot as a Hollywood leading man.
MacLachlan is probably the most famous member of the large fraternity of actors who have worked with Lynch across several projects. He appeared in Dune and Blue Velvet for Lynch, both when he was in his 20s, while also starring in a non-Lynch film, the sci-fi cult classic The Hidden.
He was cast in the role of Special Agent Dale Cooper on the original Twin Peaks, which debuted in 1990 and brought him his greatest stardom, including a Golden Globe award. He also appeared in 1992’s Fire Walk With Me movie, although when Twin Peaks ended, MacLachlan’s career as a leading man pretty much did too.
Sure, MacLachlan worked a lot in the ‘90s and early 2000s. He played Ray Manzarak in Oliver Stone’s Doors movie and had an infamous role in 1996’s Showgirls (which is his last major live-action movie role to date); although he did voice Riley’s father in Pixar’s Inside Out.
On TV, he was Charlotte’s first husband on Sex and the City, the mayor on Portlandia, had a lengthy, generally pointless arc in the later years of How I Met Your Mother, and was a regular for a time on Desperate Housewives.
The Return to form
But Twin Peaks: The Return was MacLachlan’s first starring role in years – with the closing credits each week beginning with “Starring Kyle MacLachlan”- and he absolutely knocked it out of the park.
Sure, he only played the classic Agent Cooper role for a couple of the 18 episodes, but he played two other characters too: the menacing villain known as “Mr. C,” and the monosyllabic insurance salesman Dougie Jones, a “tulpa” of Agent Cooper who slowly woke into his former identity over the course of the series. Depending on your interpretation of the finale, MacLachlan may have even played a fourth character.
MacLachlan was boldly convincing in every one of these roles, conveying cold-blooded menace as the villain, and with Dougie, he took an audience that spent hours wishing for him to turn back into Cooper and slowly won them over. And the return of Cooper, of course, was the season’s greatest moment.
Twin Peaks has long had a super-dedicated online fan base, going back to the earliest days of the Internet, and they spent the weeks following the finale presenting elaborate and sophisticated theories as to the meanings of various events of the Return series.
A lot of fans from that community have called for Twin Peaks to continue, with another season or perhaps a second movie. And while more Twin Peaks is unlikely- the first revival, after all, took 25 years, and nearly three years of production- more Kyle MacLachlan is much likely to happen.
As showed on Twin Peaks, he can play heroes and villains, and play comedy and horror. He’s got the look to appear in period pieces, and could also convincingly play the bad guy in a Marvel movie.
It’s time for Kyle MacLachlan to reclaim his place as a movie star. At 58, the actor certainly still has his boyish good looks. As showed on Twin Peaks, he can play heroes and villains, and play comedy and horror. He’s got the look to appear in period pieces, and could also convincingly play the bad guy in a Marvel movie.
MacLachlan is hilarious on talk shows, and also really funny on social media, using his Twitter account to reference The Hidden in one of the best jokes of the 2016 presidential campaign:
The actor also showed his versatility in another way: his lone time hosting Saturday Night Live, in the fall of 1990.
MacLachlan hosted SNL on September 29, 1990, the night before Twin Peaks’ second-season premiere. Airing during the run-up to the first Gulf War, it was the first episode of SNL’s 17th season, marking the SNL debut of future comedy legends Chris Rock and Chris Farley. It featured the debut of the famed “Bad Idea Jeans” commercial parody. The musical guest was Sinead O’Connor, although her infamous tearing-up of the Pope’s picture on the show came two years later.
MacLachlan was one of the all-time great one-and-done SNL hosts, starring in about five different classic sketches. There was the monologue, in which he “gave away” who had killed Laura Palmer (“it was Shelly the Waitress”). A “Sprockets” installment, featuring MacLachlan as Karl-HeinzShalke, presenting “Germany’s Most Disturbing Home Videos.” A cowboy song, which concluded with a killer k.d. lang joke. And of course, there was also a Twin Peaks parody- featuring Mike Myers as the Man From Another Place- and then-writer Conan O’Brien as Deputy Andy! The Internet briefly went crazy, shortly after the finale, when they realized Agent Cooper had expressed a desire to visit Las Vegas.
Hey, Lorne Michaels- how about getting MacLachlan back to host SNL again?
…Bryan Cranston, who worked in Hollywood for years, including in some prominent places, before Breaking Bad launched his career into the stratosphere, and he started to get major movie roles for the first time in his 50s.
MacLachlan has already gotten a couple of post-Twin Peaks roles, including a villain part in The House With a Clock on Its Walls and another role in the YA adaptation Glo: Giant Little Ones. More roles are hopefully to come.
A good model is Bryan Cranston, who worked in Hollywood for years, including in some prominent places, before Breaking Bad launched his career into the stratosphere, and he started to get major movie roles for the first time in his 50s.
Kyle MacLachlan showed in Twin Peaks: The Return that he certainly deserves that sort of opportunity.
Featured Image:Kyle MacLachlan in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME