talks TP, Riverdale and Bobby and Shelly with Vulture.
In a weird way, Alice [on Riverdale] is what I was kind of hoping Shelly would turn out to be like in Twin Peaks — she’s a stone-cold fox, takes bullshit from nobody, and is in the prime of her career. Were you surprised Shelly remained as a waitress 25 years later and was still making the same questionable decisions with men?
I was very surprised by that. On one hand, I was very thankful to be back in that nostalgic location and in that diner uniform. I couldn’t stop crying the entire time I wore it. So as an actor I loved that I got to revisit that familiar world. But thinking it through intellectually, and hoping that Shelly moved beyond all of the tragic relationship issues she was going through back in the day, I was rooting Shelly made it out of town and went to the big city and tried to do something different — and then came back to Twin Peaks for whatever reason. But the biggest thing that broke my heart was that Shelly and Bobby weren’t still together, even though they had a daughter. That really broke both Dana [Ashbrook]’s heart and my heart. I brought that up to David over and over again: “Are you sureeeeee they shouldn’t still be together?” But he was very adamant about it. Now that I’ve played it all and went through it, he’s probably right. It’s a really smart thing for David and Mark [Frost] to tell that story of people continuing through cycles. And sometimes you just can’t get out of that cycle. Thankfully, Shelly does have Norma as her family — the one person who always loved her and is there for her and forgives her. But that cycle people can get stuck in is very real. It might’ve been tied up in too neat of a bow if Shelly got out of it and moved on and progressed. There’s something to be said about people who get caught up in that same, vicious cycle.
I think that was best personified by one of my favorite scenes in The Return: When Shelly, Bobby, and Becky had that tense meeting at the Double R. You just had to choose the foxiness of Balthazar Getty over them!
I know, I know! That was a really interesting scene to film in general, because Shelly went through such a roller coaster of emotions in a span of a minute. She’s sitting there concerned for her daughter — it’s heartbreaking because she literally tells her, “Don’t do what I used to do.” And Red shows up in the window, and Shelly becomes this stupid little girl who runs out without thinking of anybody’s feelings or consequences. She goes out to have a little make-out session and then comes back in, looks at her family, and thinks, Oh, was that not good? [Laughs.] And then it turns into gunfire. It shows how David goes all the way through from beginning to end. He was pushing me to take all of those leaps in all of those different directions. It was challenging, but a lot of fun.
Similarly, something I find interesting between the two shows is the link to the supernatural — in Twin Peaks, it’s dominant in the second and third seasons, while it’s been revealed that a Sabrina spinoff will be in the same TV universe as Riverdale. With Shelly and Alice, how do you imagine they would react if they ever, say, stumbled upon the Red Room or witnessed Sabrina doing her magical powers?
Since Shelly had no experience or connection to any of that supernatural stuff that was happening in Twin Peaks, I think she would be completely shocked and bewildered. What the eff is happening? Not that she’s not an intelligent woman, but she’s a simple woman, and I don’t think she would necessarily be able to grasp that concept. But she’s scrappy! So if anything came at her, she would fight back immediately, even if she didn’t understand what was happening. I wouldn’t put it past her to figure out the Red Room mystery immediately. Like, out of nowhere, “I know what it is!” [Laughs.] And with Alice — I know Sabrina lives in the next town over, Greendale, and there’s a lot of supernatural stuff happening over there. Anything that Alice might come across like that, she would immediately blame on the Blossom family. It wouldn’t matter if there was any connection whatsoever, but she would still be like, I knew it! They’re doing crazy shit up there in that Blossom mansion; they invited in a spirit! I’ve been proven right!
Are there any Twin Peaks actors you would like to act alongside in Riverdale someday? I think Sherilyn Fenn would make a great mother for Jughead.
That’s a great idea. I concur with that completely; it would be amazing. Especially because it would be great to see Sherilyn in the Southside Serpents world. See that bad girl in her and see her as the queen of the Serpents. Of course, I’m always going to say that Dana Ashbrook should come in and do a quick little cameo, maybe as the sheriff of the next town over. To do a little hint and a little nod to Peaks. Maybe a quick recognition between Alice and this sheriff that just feels really familiar, but we don’t know why.
Now that it’s been a couple of months since Twin Peaks concluded, have you come to an interpretation of what the ending means?
I started thinking throughout the third season that, with all of this chaos going on around the world in all of these different locations, an evil spirit broke into our universe — like that beautiful bomb in the desert in the eighth episode — through a portal, and this evil spirit then prodded its way and infiltrated different aspects of our society. I started realizing this as I was watching, and how this perfect and nostalgic town of Twin Peaks might be a dimension. For some reason, people are popping back and forth into this dimension, and it’s supposed to be this perfect little Norman Rockwell town, but in came this spirit that infiltrated it and wreaked havoc on the town. So by the end of the last episode, it really did solidify for me that there are other dimensions. David and Mark are speaking on different dimensions that are happening in our universe at the same time. For whatever reason, the future changed through an event, and we got to see Laura Palmer still alive and brought back to the town, and yeah, there was something that felt eerily familiar. And I think that last scream was recognition of this other life that had been lived. Now, do I completely understand what I just said? No! [Laughs.]
What I love about David Lynch’s work is that every one of his films or projects resonates with you, and you continue to think about it long after the fact, and you continue to piece things together much later. It’s not an immediate thing where everything is tied up in a nice bow. It lingers for a long time because he has so many layers of intellectual art. He leaves it for you to interpret and piece together, and you continue to understand that there’s a bit more later on.
Well, if he ever tells you what it all means —
— You’ll be the first person I call.