Twin Peaks Conversation With The Stars – Executive Producer Sabrina Sutherland

Few shows have made the cultural impact of TWIN PEAKS, nor have many broken the mould of what television can be quite in the same way.  The success of which paved the way for shows such as X-Files, Northern Exposure and any number of hugely popular, somewhat left of centre series.

Celebrated across the globe over the past 25 years, with festivals, books, magazines, a feature film, fan gatherings and more (even giving life to an Adelaide based café back in the day), TWIN PEAKS has over the years become somewhat of a forgotten phenomenon in Australia until the recent revival, brought about by news series TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN, once again spearheaded by masterminds David Lynch & Mark Frost.

Thankfully, the new series has sparked renewed interest in the quirky town and its even quirkier characters and goings on, so it’s exciting to report that some of the shows favourites including Laura Palmer, Bobby Briggs, Mike the one armed man, Deputy Hawk and Lucy Brennan are all heading to Australia for a series of special Q&A shows, the likes of which we have never really had the opportunity to experience before.

Alongside the returning cast visiting our shores, is Executive Producer of the new series and long-time David Lynch collaborator and friend, Sabrina Sutherland.  I was lucky to spend some time recently chatting with Sabrina, who started her long time creative relationship with David Lynch on the original TWIN PEAKS, to chat about a place both wonderful and strange.

Sabrina was a fan of the original show from the start, describing the opportunity to become involved in the original.
I would say (it was) beyond belief.  Twin Peaks was one of those shows I was a huge fan of.  There aren’t a lot of television shows that I’m like that, so to be able to go down and start work in it, It was like I was in a dream.

As executive Producer on THE RETURN, Sabrina’s role was not without its challenges.
He (David Lynch) is truly an artist, he has a vision and I am the person who has to be a realist.  That’s the only issue, because there’s really no way of saying no to David, but that’s kind of my job sometimes, I have to say no, or, we can’t do that.  It’s a very delicate thing because it’s more let’s try and figure out a way we can make something happen rather than just saying outright we can’t do that, but there are times when it’s just – we can’t.  That’s pretty much it, otherwise it’s just me trying to meet his vision.  I do want to try and get what he wants, I don’t want to just deny him that.  I really want to figure out a way of doing it, so it’s very challenging for me to dig into my creativity for what can I do to make this happen.

After quite a few years out of the public consciousness, the early 2010’s saw a move back into the world of black coffee and cherry pie, when the Missing Pieces blu-ray box set came together, a point in time which saw many of the original cast reunite to discuss the iconic series.
When I see any of the Twin Peaks cast or crew, it’s like seeing a member of my family. (Sabrina worked closely with Lynch on the project and I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for some time that this is where the seeds were sewn for the new series).  Ideas from Fire Walk With Me (the much maligned movie spinoff) were important based on the scenes used in this new series.  David and I were working on the Missing Pieces when Mark and David started writing this new series, so maybe ideas came from this.

David Lynch’s is a unique body of art, littered with returning cast and crew, all keen to continue working with the famed director time and again and Sabrina is no exception.
You know I just love working with David and the more I’ve worked with him, the more I’ve wanted to work with him.  So, if he’s continued on doing commercials or his other features, I’ve tried to work with him as much as I could.  The cast always love to work with him, you know actors love to work with him repeatedly and the crew love to work with him.  I know since I worked on Twin peaks, the original one in 1990, we actually had I don’t know how many of the same crew people working on the new show, so you know 25 to 30 years later, we still have the same people who want to work with him and it’s all David.

A highlight of the new series was Kyle MacLachlan’s tireless interpretation of 4 unique characters.  One of whom, the wonderful Dougie Jones, shared a special moment in the Mitchum Brothers’ Silver Mustang Casino across from Floor Attendant Jackie, portrayed by none other than Sabrina herself.
I would say I agree with you and I think Kyle did an amazing job on this film.  (for those of you unfamiliar with the latest TWIN PEAKS, the entire series was filmed like one long eighteen hour film).  It was very strange for me, I know Kyle very well and I’ve never really talked to him in character, so the first time we did the take and I tapped him on the shoulder and he’s Dougie, it was so bizarre to me because it wasn’t Kyle anymore, it really was somebody else.  It was so bizarre.  I was talking to him and I don’t know if I even stopped talking.  We kinda walk off in the same direction and so we’re waiting for David to yell cut because it was a long take and Kyle turned to me and said – that’s the first time you’ve met Dougie Jones, isn’t it? (laughs) And I was like – You bet it was and he was, he WAS that character!

As the latest instalment of TWIN PEAKS drew to a close, fans were left with that familiar feeling of satisfaction and dread we first felt 25 years ago, knowing that whilst some of our favourites characters had reached a perfect conclusion to their stories, others faced a similar fate to the original, with the unknown befalling them.  None more so than our beloved Cooper and the mysterious Carrie Page, except perhaps Audrey Horne.  However, there were a handful of characters I was keen to understand the fates of who were not as present in the return, Harry Truman, Annie Blackburn and particularly Windom Earle after his fiery moment in the Black Lodge.
The characters who finally ended up in the show make the show absolutely fantastic and it is as it’s meant to be.

So for now, perhaps we may just have to wait on discovering the fates of those characters. The burning question on the lips of fans of course, are we likely to see more TWIN PEAKS in the future?  To investigate new mysteries and perhaps solve a few more of the existing ones?  It’s hard to know, as Sabrina was keen to point out that David is currently busy painting and won’t be thinking about anything else for a while.
Many of us have remained friendly over the years, and this new show only drew us even closer.  It’s really been so much fun to be able to hang out with everyone.  I can’t get enough of them!  I love the entirety of Twin Peaks and would love to see many stories continue.  However, I also enjoy the way this last season ended, so I am happy either way.

As we wrap the interview, Sabrina leaves us with a final message to Australian fans: Without the fans there would have not been this new season of Twin Peaks, so thank you so much for your support!  Twin Peaks fans are the best!  I am really looking forward to meeting you and hearing your thoughts on the show!  See you soon!

Interview by Peter Lanyon

You can catch the cast of TWIN PEAKS on the following CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS dates:

Twin Peaks Tour Poster



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