Twin Peaks is many things: a soap opera, a murder mystery, a supernatural thriller, and a cult classic. The murder of popular high school student Laura Palmer rocks a small town in Washington, and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is called into investigate the bizarre circumstances surrounding the homecoming queen’s death. For two seasons, fans were enraptured in the lives of the strange residents of Twin Peaks. The Mark Frost and David Lynch creation spawned a movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and next year, the show will return for a limited series on Showtime. Grab some coffee and a slice of cherry pie, and get ready for the final installment in the Twin Peaks saga with these 17 things you didn’t know about this bizarre show.
1. The Who Killed Laura Palmer Mystery Was Not Supposed to Get Solved
The soap opera begins with the dead body of Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic on the rocky shore of a Pacific Northwest riverbed. While viewers eventually discover who killed Laura Palmer, the showrunners did not want to reveal the identity of the murderer. “The murder of Laura Palmer was the center of the story, the thing around which all the show’s other elements revolved — like a sun in a little solar system,” David Lynch commented. “It was not supposed to get solved. The idea was for it to recede a bit into the background, and the foreground would be that week’s show. But the mystery of the death of Laura Palmer would stay alive.”
2. The Origin of Agent Cooper’s Marilyn Monroe References
Laura Palmer was killed right before plans to go public about the powerful man she was having an affair with, which draws some parallels to Marilyn Monroe. Twin Peaks co-creators Mark Frost and David Lynch wrote a biopic titled Goddess about Marilyn Monroe that was never produced. However, Frost and Lynch repurposed their work on the biopic into one of Special Agent Dale Cooper’s monologues, seen in the series premiere. “There are two things that continue to trouble me, and I’m speaking now not only as an agent of the bureau but also as a human being,” Agent Cooper dictates into his recorder. “What really went on between Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys, and who really pulled the trigger on JFK.”
3. The First Two Seasons Take Place Over 28 Days
When you watch a show episode by episode over two years, you tend to lose track of the time frame. All the action taking place over the first two seasons occurs in less than a month. Coop and the Bookhouse Boys solved the murder mystery of who killed Laura Palmer in just 15 days. Then 13 more days past until the series’ final disturbing scene.
4. ABC Wanted a Bigger Small Town
Originally, Twin Peaks was supposed to have a population of 5,120. However, the network had concerns about viewers relating to a show set in such a small town. ABC demanded that Frost and Lynch increase the size of Twin Peaks, so the co-creators added a “1” to the population total. Fortunately for Frost and Lynch, there were few additional changes requested by the network about the premiere episode of the series.
5. Twin Peaks is Home to Some Celebrity Parents
Peggy Lipton is known as Norma Jennings in Twin Peaks but outside of the twisted, picturesque Pacific Northwest, the actress was also real-life mother to Rashida Jones from Parks and Recreation and The Office. Also, both parents of New Girl actress, Zooey Deschanel, and Bones female lead, Emily Deschanel, were involved with Twin Peaks. Mary Jo Deschanel played Donna Hayward’s mom, Eileen, and Caleb Deschanel directed three episodes. Mary Jo and Caleb Deschanel have been married since 1972. Stephen Gyllenhaal Jake & Maggie’s dad, also directed one episode.
6. Laura Palmer’s Prom Photo Is the Real Deal
That pretty head shot featured in the show is actress Sheryl Lee’s actual homecoming photo.
7. The Scripts Were Kept Secret, Even From the Cast
Actresses Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs) and Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran) have said that they were given lines individually without ever seeing their co-stars’ lines. “[Lynch] is a very strange director because sometimes he just wants you to do something and he has it in his mind what it’s going to look like. And you haven’t got a clue, but you do it anyway,” Stewart shared in a Mashable interview. To find out what happened in the story, the stars themselves had to tune into the show, just like their fans.
8. No One Really Knew What Was Going On
Frost and Lynch shot three different endings to the first season finale. The co-creators gave ABC a fake script for the episode as well because the network wanted the show to end neatly, in case it wasn’t renewed. Stewart recalled watching the finale at Dana Ashbrook’s house with some of her fellow cast members and upon seeing the ending, exclaimed, “All of a sudden, Cooper opens the door and gets shot, and we’re like ‘Holy s***, are we out of work?’”
9. Here’s How They Made Those Creepy Voices in the Black Lodge
The cast read their lines backwards for the Black Lodge scenes, and then the recording was played backwards too. The lines came out intelligibly but with a really creepy vocal effect.
10. Bob Also Designed the Sets
In a moment of inspiration, Lynch had a vision of set designer Frank Silva hiding in Laura Palmer’s bedroom. Silva shot the scene, though Lynch had no idea how it would fit into the series. Silva as Bob is accidentally visible in a scene with Laura’s mother, Sarah Palmer, screaming in her living room. These off-the-cuff and accidental shots were the beginnings of the Twin Peaks mythology developed by the showrunners.
11. David Lynch and Mark Frost shot three alternate endings of Twin Peaks
The show was so hot during its run that everyone was scared that some detail about the finale would be leaked and ruin the impact. So David Lynch and Mark Frost mitigate this potential problem by shooting three different alternate endings for the show. Even the network didn’t know which one would actually air until it was on the air.
12. Laura Palmer’s Murderer was a Hot Political Issue
President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, was a big Twin Peaks fan and just had to know who murdered Laura Palmer. Gorbachev went to great lengths to uncover who was behind the untimely death of teenaged blonde bombshell, Laura Palmer, going so far as to contact financier Carl Linder and producer Aaron Spelling to get the inside scoop. Finally, David Lynch was contacted and when he inquired who wanted to know the murderer’s identity, he discovered President George H.W. Bush had been put on the case by Gorbachev via Linder and Spelling. However, at the time, even Lynch didn’t know who killed Laura.
13. Lara Flynn Boyle Did Not Approve of a Certain On-Screen Relationship
Audrey Horne’s affection for Special Agent Dale Cooper was no secret. However, the romantic relationship never blossomed, and it’s not because Audrey was a minor. Apparently, Lara Flynn Boyle, the actress who played Donna Hayward and Kyle MacLachlan’s girlfriend at the time, did not appreciate all of the on-screen attention Audrey received. “I’m not supposed to say it,” shared Sherilyn Fenn, the actress who played Audrey. “But David knows I tell what happens, and what happened was that Lara [Flynn Boyle] was dating Kyle [MacLachlan], and she was mad that my character was getting more attention, so then Kyle started saying that his character shouldn’t be with my character because it doesn’t look good, ’cause I’m too young. Literally, because of that, they brought in Heather Graham — who’s younger than I am — for him and Billy Zane for me. I was not happy about it. It was stupid.”
14. Fans of the Show Can Attend the Annual Twin Peaks Festival
Every year there is a Twin Peaks Festival for fans of the twisted show, and it draws a few hundred attendees even though the show ended 25 years ago. Cast and crew members often show up to mingle with fans and tour various locations that featured in the cult classic show and movie.
15. The Show Could Have Taken Place In North Dakota
The iconic imagery of the Pacific Northwest seen throughout Twin Peaks could have been vastly different if the show had been set in North Dakota. “Long before we moved into the Pacific Northwest, we were playing around with this idea of the plains and a place far away from the world,” co-creator Mark Frost said. “But what we really lacked was that sense of mystery in the forest and the darkness that moving a little further west had.”
16. David Bowie Was Set to Do the 2017 Reboot of Twin Peaks
Before his pasing in January 2016, David Bowie was going to reprise his Fire Walk with Me character Agent Phillip Jeffries for the 2017 Showtime reboot of the series.
17. You Too Can Visit the Great Northern Hotel
Fans of the show can actually visit the Great Northern Hotel, actually called the Salish Lodge & Spa. The hotel overlooks the Snoqualmie Falls, and Twin Peaks enthusiasts can get a taste of the Frost and Lynch’s Pacific Northwest. With its own apiary, on-site restaurant, luxurious spa, and so much more, fans of the show can unwind while paying homage to one of their favorite TV shows.
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