Interviews: Back to ‘Twin Peaks’ with Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn?

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CHICAGO – The hot rumor this week in the TV industry is that “Twin Peaks” show creators David Lynch and Mark Frost were talking up a revival of that unforgettable cult TV show of the early 1990s. Will Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer) and Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne) possibly participate?

Both actresses were at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con last summer and talked to, and posed for the lens of photographer Joe Arce. The next Wizard World Chicago Comic Con will take place August 8th-11th, 2013, at the Donald E. Stephens Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

StarSheryl Lee, Laura Palmer in “Twin Peaks,” “Backbeat”

“She’s dead, wrapped in plastic” introduced the icon character Laura Palmer to the culture in the TV show “Twin Peaks” (1990-91). She was portrayed with unerring skill by Sheryl Lee, who also managed in the series to portray Laura’s twin cousin, Maddy Ferguson. She reprised the Laura Palmer role in earnest with the follow-up feature film, “Twin Peaks, Fire Walk with Me” (1992). She has worked ever since with memorable roles in “Backbeat” (1994) and “Mother Night” (1996), plus TV’s “One Tree Hill” (2005-06) and “Dirty Sexy Money” (2007-09).

Sheryl Lee
Sheryl Lee at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, August of 2012
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for What haunted you then, and what haunts you now, about the famous formal homecoming picture of you as Laura Palmer, that was used as a symbol for ‘Twin Peaks’?

Sheryl Lee: I think what haunts me the most about it is that a lot of people thought it was my actual homecoming picture in real life. [laughs] I would like to clear this up…I was never homecoming queen. The picture was taken specifically for the TV series to represent Laura Palmer, not to represent Sheryl Lee. Now that you’ve had a few years of retrospect regarding it, are you pro or con the prequel feature film, ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’?

Lee: My experience with a film I’m in is while I’m shooting it. I usually don’t see it or only see it once afterward. I like to see the whole picture, and how the other actors did and the director’s vision, but I don’t like watching my own work. So I haven’t seen the film in twenty years, but my experience in working with Davld [Lynch] was incredible. I do know that there are hours of footage that many people want to see – I want to see it because I’m a fan of David Lynch. How did portraying the early Beatles photographer Astrid Kirchherr enrich your soul, and what was it like reliving the birth of The Beatles in the film ‘Backbeat’?

Sheryl Lee
Not Sheryl Lee: The Laura Palmer Portrait
Photo credit: Artisan Entertainment

Lee: That was one of my favorite jobs. First, in order to do it I wanted Astrid’s okay, because it was such an intimate story. I wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing in telling it, and she was okay with me playing her. I spoke to her on the phone beforehand and she was okay with everything. When I got to Europe to the set, I got to meet her, hang out with her and go through her archives. She was so generous with myself and Stephen [Dorff, who portrayed Kirchherr’s lover] with her life with Stuart, and I couldn’t have played that role without her.

We had the best time because we were staying at Blake’s Hotel in London, which was a rocker bar, and since all the boys were taking music lessons to recreate the early Beatles sound, after rehearsals they’d go to the bar with us and perform all those Beatles songs. It was incredible. It was a gift. You’ve done a variety of roles on stage and screen. Which performance or role is closest to the heart of who you actually are?

Lee: It’s an interesting question, because as I grow as a human being and woman, the roles I get are reflected back to me as to what chapter in my life I am experiencing them in. It’s not black and white, as I ‘am’ them, but it’s an underlying sense of what archetypes are present in my life, what issues I’m investigating and what corners of my soul I am healing. That becomes reflected in the characters that choose me, or who I choose, to navigate through.

I feel like all the women that I’ve portrayed are friends in a way, because they’ve taught me and allowed me to explore elements of myself and elements of the human psyche. It’s a gift to be actually paid and have the time to investigate the richness of being human, the multi-dimensional facets of us all and the complexities of our souls. Finally, what can you say about Sherilyn Fenn that rest of the world doesn’t know?

Lee: I love that woman so much. She is truly like a goddess, in the sense of the mother force of beauty that shines through her, it’s huge. I absolutely adore her, I could go on and on about her.

StarSherilyn Fenn, Audrey Horne on “Twin Peaks,” “Boxing Helena”

As the girl known for her cherry stem tying skills in “Twin Peaks,” Sherilyn Fenn made Audrey Horne a stand out persona in a cast of high concept characters. She also had notable roles right after Peaks, with films as diverse as “Of Mice and Men” (1992), “Ruby” (1992) and “Boxing Helena” (1993). In the latter film, she infamously portrayed an amputated woman imprisoned by her captor (Julian Sands) – literally in a box. In 1995, the actress beat out Lindsey Lohan by several years when she portrayed Elizabeth Taylor in a TV movie ‘Liz.’ Since that whirlwind, she’s worked steadily on TV, with character roles on “Boston Public” and “The Gilmore Girls.”

Sherilyn Fenn
Sherilyn Fenn at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, August of 2012
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for You have a blog called ‘Postcards from the Ledge.’ Why did you start it, and what has blogging taught you about yourself?

Sherilyn Fenn: I started the blog because I wanted to write a book of short stories, regarding things I had learned and character defining moments. My boyfriend suggested blogging to get it out there. As things would come up, I’d write about them, and I got some really nice feedback. It was almost the next step up from acting, because it wasn’t about pretending, but illuminating the struggle. It became very cathartic. You portrayed Elizabeth Taylor while she was still alive. What do you think she contributed to show business culture, and did you ever get to meet her?

Fenn: Unfortunately I never got the privilege to meet her, but I think she contributed – which was larger than show business – to raising the profile for AIDS research, when it was a taboo subject. On a personal note, one of her character quirks that I connected to was her trusting and naive ability to keep loving again and again, believing that something else could happen. That was incredible to me, and I admired her for it. I loved doing the role. You once described your early career as ‘sexploitation.’ Do you think it’s almost impossible for an actress to avoid that category when formulating a career in show business?

Sherilyn Fenn
Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey in ‘Twin Peaks’
Photo credit: Artisan Entertainment

Fenn: I think at least 90% of them will be put in a situation to do that, we live in a country that glorifies youth, exploits it and destroys it ultimately – it’s all a part of it. I had agents tell me that no matter what happens at the interview, make sure you look sexy. It’s such a bore, and women continue to get sexualized in that way, if you are remotely attractive. If you’re not as attractive, you’re a ‘character actress,’ but they say you can’t be one if you are attractive. That’s ridiculous. What is your favorite David Lynch story, whether it happened to you or somebody else?

Fenn: We were doing the second episode of ‘Twin Peaks,’ in the development process of taking Audrey from nothing to something – David wrote the character specifically for me, adding me to the pilot. I had rehearsed a particular scene, and suddenly he was rewriting it. I was freaking out, and he tells me I’m drinking coffee, and I’m going to get up and start grooving to the music. I was saying ‘what?’ He told me to just listen to the music and start grooving. I did it, and that became the breakout moment. What can you tell us about Sheryl Lee that the rest of the world doesn’t know?

Fenn: She is a deep, wonderful, wisdom filled sister of mine, that I’m really happy to be reacquainted to. She has so much to give now, so much more than when she was Laura Palmer.

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con will take place August 8th-11th, 2013, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. Click here for more details and to pre-purchase tickets. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2013 Patrick McDonald,

Ghoster's picture

Audrey’s Dance WAS a

Audrey’s Dance WAS a breakout moment. I am so glad David wrote that into the script. Donna’s parents were sitting at a table watching her. It was a “WOW!” moment. “Isn’t it too dreamy?”

Mr. Leland's picture


I’m glad you take the time to ask thoughtful questions rather than stuff like “What’s it like working with…”

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