11 Fascinating Facts About Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

At the moment, everyone has Twin Peaks on the brain, thanks the recent premiere of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 18-episode revival of the cult classic mystery series on Showtime. Naturally, Twin Peaks fans everywhere have already binge-watched the original series in anticipation, but there’s one other big piece of the Twin Peaks puzzle that shouldn’t be left out: Fire Walk With Me, the 1992 prequel film directed by Lynch.

Lambasted by critics upon its release for its bleak and disorienting plot, Fire Walk With Me was for many years ignored by all but diehard fans. But critical reexaminations, deleted scenes, and a promise from Lynch himself that it’s ”very important” to the future of Twin Peaks have pushed it back into the public imagination. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, cut a slice of cherry pie, and check out these facts about the film.

1. IT HAPPENED FAST.

By the spring of 1991, Twin Peaks—which had once been a ratings juggernaut for ABC—was flagging. The resolution of the Laura Palmer mystery left the show without its most popular storyline, and various time slot shifts led to further viewership drops. The show was canceled, but co-creator Lynch did not wait long to continue the franchise. Fire Walk With Me was announced only about a month after the show ended in June 1991. Financing from French company Ciby 2000 came quickly, and by May of the following year, the film was celebrating its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

2. ONE TWIN PEAKS STAR WAS REPLACED, WHILE ANOTHER WAS LEFT OUT ENTIRELY.

Though Fire Walk With Me is primarily the story of Laura Palmer’s last week alive, Lynch had big plans for the film, and intended to bring back numerous Twin Peaks actors to reprise their roles from the show. Among the biggest names Lynch asked to return were Lara Flynn Boyle (Donna Hayward) and Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne). Both actresses declined due to scheduling conflicts with other projects. Because Donna was Laura’s best friend, and therefore integral to the story, the role was recast with future The West Wing star Moira Kelly. Audrey Horne was ultimately left out of the film altogether, though Fenn recalled later that something really could have been worked out.

“I was just doing Of Mice And Men. David was mad at me. I was going to do it. I was set to do it! I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ And then they were going to have me do it in between that and whatever I was going to do next, but he wanted my hair to be cut, and there was this stupid thing where… [dismissively] Really, if they’d really wanted me, they could’ve figured it out. Not that they didn’t really want me to do it, but productions like to have you and just you, you know what I mean? The dates were completely conflicting, because I was supposed to be in Santa Ynez filming Of Mice And Men for eight weeks, so … that’s what happened."

3. KYLE MACLACHLAN WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A LARGER ROLE.

It wouldn’t feel like Twin Peaks without Kyle MacLachlan’s Special Agent Dale Cooper. Cooper was the heart of the TV series, so it made sense that he would return for the film, but in July of 1991, the film was put on hold when it was announced that MacLachlan, on the hunt for new acting challenges, would not return to the role. By August of that year, MacLachlan was back on board, but Lynch and co-writer Robert Engels had to rewrite the script to reduce his role. In a 2000 Observer interview, MacLachlan explained the changes:

“Without getting too specific about it, David and Mark [Frost] were only around for the first series [of Twin Peaks],” he said. “I fought and fought to try and get them back, but … I think we all felt a little abandoned. So I was fairly resentful when the film, Fire Walk With Me, came round. I wanted to have a meaningful discussion about some of [the early] scenes, and David was unwilling to do that, so I was not in those scenes; Chris Isaak was in them, instead of me.”

Clearly there are no bad feelings, as MacLachlan has returned to the role of Dale Cooper in a big way for the revival.

4. LYNCH HELPED COMPOSE THE MUSIC, AND EVEN PLAYED ON THE SOUNDTRACK.

Lynch reunited with Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti for Fire Walk With Me, and got more involved than usual in the composition. He composed lyrics to several songs for the soundtrack (including “Questions in a World of Blue,” which featured the return of Twin Peaks Roadhouse singer Julee Cruise), and music for others. One track, “A Real Indication,” features Lynch on percussion and Badalamenti himself on vocals.

5. THE FIRST CUT WAS FIVE HOURS LONG.

The journey from announcing to premiering Fire Walk With Me took less than a year, and the production process itself was equally fast. In a little more than three months, Lynch managed to shoot half a million feet of film, an amazing amount for a final picture that runs just over two hours. Why so long? Well that’s in part due to the very large number of characters (including lots of Twin Peaks regulars) in the script. The first cut of the film came in at around five hours, which meant considerable trimming before the premiere.

6. THE RING AT THE CENTER OF THE PLOT HAS A WEIRD HISTORY.


New Line Cinema

Fire Walk With Me features an intriguing new addition to Twin Peaks lore: a ring that seems to have magical properties, which passes from the murdered Teresa Banks to Laura Palmer through weird Lynchian dream logic. Its exact powers and origins are still unknown, but it’s been around for a very long time. In the 2016 book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, by Peaks co-creator Mark Frost, it’s revealed that the ring has been owned by, among others, Meriwether Lewis and Richard Nixon. In one of the film’s infamous deleted scenes, it’s revealed that Agent Cooper’s girlfriend Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) was wearing the ring after escaping the Black Lodge at the end of season two of Twin Peaks, but it was later stolen from her finger by a hospital nurse.

7. THE CLIMACTIC SCENE HAS A CREEPY COINCIDENTAL CONNECTION TO A REAL MURDER.

Most of Fire Walk With Me was shot on location in Washington State, but because the film went over its allotted location shooting days, filming had to be completed in Los Angeles. The murder of Laura Palmer in a train car, originally set to be filmed in the Seattle area, was filmed on a soundstage on the last day of shooting, which also happened to be Halloween 1991. According to Frank Silva, who played the demonic Killer Bob, a real murder happened that same night near the location where the crew was originally supposed to film the scene.

"Five days after Halloween, in Seattle, they found the body of a girl off of Avenue 37 up toward the river, and the weird thing about it was that her name was Theresa Briggs," Silva told Fangoria. "Theresa Banks is the first girl who gets killed, and Bobby Briggs was one of the characters in the show. And when they did an autopsy, they discovered the murder had taken place five days earlier on Halloween night, the same night we were shooting the killing of Laura Palmer on the set in LA. It was really weird stuff. Art imitates life. Life imitates art."

8. LYNCH ORIGINALLY PLANNED TO MAKE MORE FILMS.

Though it functions largely as a Twin Peaks prequel, Fire Walk With Me also has elements of a sequel to the TV series, most notably when Annie appears in Laura’s dream (from the future, somehow transmitting into the past) to say “The good Dale is in the lodge and can’t leave. Write it in your diary.” If Laura wrote this information down, it means that someone in the future would have come across it in her diary (shredded to pieces but recovered by the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department) and known that the Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks had been replaced by a doppelgänger, as revealed to the audience in the season two finale of the series. Lynch believed that Laura did, in fact, write Annie’s message in her diary.

“I had hopes of something coming out of that,” he said,” and I liked the idea of the story going back and forth in time.”

Lynch apparently planned a trilogy of Twin Peaks films, but the idea was abandoned after the poor reception to Fire Walk With Me.

9. IT WAS LITERALLY BOOED BY CRITICS.


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Most filmmakers only read the prior critical reception to their films, but Lynch actually got to hear it directly from critics. After the film premiered at Cannes in May of 1992, Lynch attended a press conference, where he was met with boos and hisses. Fire Walk With Me was critically panned at the time for being bleak, confusing, and deliberately devoid of much of the offbeat humor that made Twin Peaks what it was. Lynch, used to a mixed reception, took it in stride, but the press conference was still brutal.

“It was like I was made of broken glass, you know, when I went in there,” he later said. “And it really was not fun.”

The film has enjoyed a reappraisal in recent years, though, with critics such as Calum Marsh of The Village Voice naming it “Lynch’s masterpiece."

10. IT WAS BIG IN JAPAN.

Despite an icy critical reception and relatively poor box office performance in the United States, Fire Walk With Me was embraced in at least one part of the world: Japan. The Twin Peaks TV series didn’t arrive there until the show had nearly finished its American run, and it caught on like wildfire, with fans even staging mock Laura Palmer funerals in several cities. Fire Walk With Me premiered there in May of 1992, well before it got an American release, and ran in Japanese theaters all through the summer.

11. THE DELETED SCENES WERE KEPT HIDDEN FOR YEARS.

Because Lynch shot enough footage for a five-hour version of Fire Walk With Me, significant cuts were made to get the film down to a releasable length. This left many deleted scenes on the cutting room floor that gained interest from Peaks fans in the years after the film’s release. Even as the film made its way to various DVD releases, the deleted scenes were never made available due to rights issues with the original French investors who financed the film. Demand for these scenes ultimately grew so huge that a Facebook fan petition was started in 2011, and then, in 2014, the rights issues were finally resolved. The Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery box set included the original series, Fire Walk With Me, and more than 90 minutes of deleted scenes featuring extended moments from the film and numerous Twin Peaks favorites who didn’t make the final cut. Among the familiar faces: Big Ed (Everett McGill) and Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), Pete Martell (Jack Nance), and Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean).

Additional Sources:
Lynch on Lynch, by Chris Rodley
The Secret History of Twin Peaks, by Mark Frost
The Complete Lynch, by David Hughes

12 Good Ol' Facts About The Dukes of Hazzard

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Getty Images

When The Dukes of Hazzard premiered on January 26, 1979, it was intended to be a temporary patch in CBS’s primetime schedule until The Incredible Hulk returned. Only nine episodes were ordered, and few executives at the network had any expectation that the series—about two amiable brothers at odds with the corrupt law enforcement of Hazzard County—would become both a ratings powerhouse and a merchandising bonanza. Check out some of these lesser-known facts about the Duke boys, their extended family, and the gravity-defying General Lee.

1. CBS's chairman hated The Dukes of Hazzard.

CBS chairman William Paley never quite bought into the idea of spinning his opinion to match the company line. Having built CBS from a radio station to one of the “Big Three” television networks, he had harvested talent as diverse as Norman Lear and Lucille Ball, a marked contrast to the Southern-fried humor of The Dukes of Hazzard. In his 80s when it became a top 10 series and seeing no reason to censor himself, Paley repeatedly and publicly described the show as “lousy.”

2. The Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee got 35,000 fan letters a month.


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While John Schneider and Tom Wopat were the ostensible stars of the show, both the actors and the show's producers quickly found out that the main attraction was the 1969 Dodge Charger—dubbed the General Lee—that trafficked brothers Bo and Luke Duke from one caper to another. Of the 60,000 letters the series was receiving every month in 1981, 35,000 wanted more information on or pictures of the car.

3. Dennis Quaid wanted to be The Dukes of Hazzard's Luke Duke—on one condition.

When the show began casting in 1978, producers threw out a wide net searching for the leads. Dennis Quaid was among those interested in the role of Luke Duke—which eventually went to Wopat—but he had a condition: he would only agree to the show if his then-wife, P.J. Soles, was cast at the Dukes’ cousin, Daisy. Soles wasn’t a proper fit for the supporting part, which put Quaid off; Catherine Bach was eventually cast as Daisy.

4. John Schneider pretended to be a redneck for his Dukes of Hazzard audition.

New York native Schneider was only 18 years old when he went in to read for the role of Bo Duke. The problem: producers wanted someone 24 to 30 years old. Schneider lied about his age and passed himself off as a Southern archetype, strutting in wearing a cowboy hat, drinking a beer, and spitting tobacco. He also told them he could do stunt driving. It was a good enough performance to land him the show.

5. The Dukes of Hazzard co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat met while taking a poop.

After Schneider was cast, the show needed to locate an actor who could complement Bo. Stage actor Wopat was flown in for a screen test; Schneider happened to be in the bathroom when Wopat walked in after him. The two began talking about music—Schneider had seen a guitar under the stall door—and found they had an easy camaraderie. After flushing, the two did a scene. Wopat was hired immediately.

6. Daisy's Dukes needed a tweak on The Dukes of Hazzard.

Bach’s omnipresent jean shorts were such a hit that any kind of cutoffs quickly became known as “Daisy Dukes,” after her character. But they were so skimpy that the network was concerned censors wouldn’t allow them. A negotiation began, and it was eventually decided that Bach would wear some extremely sheer pantyhose to make sure there were no clothing malfunctions.

7. Nancy Reagan was fan of The Dukes of Hazzard's Daisy.

Shirley Moore, Bach’s former grade school teacher, went on to work in the White House. After Bach sent her a poster, she was surprised to hear back that then-First Lady Nancy Reagan was enamored with it. “I’m the envy of the White House and I’m having your poster framed,” Moore wrote in a letter. “Mrs. Reagan saw the picture and fell in love with it.” Bach sent more posters, which presumably became part of the decor during the Reagan administration.

8. The Dukes of Hazzard's stars had some very bizarre contract demands.

Wopat and Schneider famously walked off the series in 1982 after demanding a cut of the show’s massive merchandising revenue—which was, by one estimate, more than $190 million in 1981 alone. They were replaced with Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer, “cousins” of the Duke boys, who were reviled by fans for being scabs. The two leads eventually came back, but it wasn’t the only time Warner Bros. had to deal with irate actors. James Best, who portrayed crooked sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, refused to film five episodes because he had no private dressing room in which to change his clothes; the production just hosed him down when he got dirty. Ben Jones, who played “Cooter” the mechanic, briefly left because he wanted his character to sport a beard and producers preferred he be clean-shaven.

9. A miniature car was used for some stunts in The Dukes of Hazzard.

As established, the General Lee was a primary attraction for viewers of the series. For years, the show wrecked dozens of Chargers by jumping, crashing, and otherwise abusing them, which created some terrific footage. For its seventh and final season in 1985, the show turned to a miniature effects team in an effort to save on production costs: it was cheaper to mangle a Hot Wheels-sized model than the real thing. “It was a source of embarrassment to all of us on the show,” Wopat told E!.

10. The Dukes of Hazzard's famous "hood slide" was an accident.

A staple—and, eventually, cliché—of action films everywhere, the slide over the hood was popularized by Tom Wopat. While it may have been tempting to take credit, Wopat said it was unintentional and that the first time he tried clearing the hood, the car’s antenna wound up injuring him.

11. The Dukes of Hazzard cartoon went international.


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Warner Bros. capitalized on the show’s phenomenal popularity with an animated series, The Dukes, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera and aired in 1983. Taking advantage of the form, the Duke boys traveled internationally, racing Boss Hogg through Greece or Hong Kong. Perhaps owing to the fact that the live-action series was already considered enough of a cartoon, the animated series only lasted 20 episodes.

12. In 2015, Warner Bros. banned the Confederate flag from The Dukes of Hazzard merchandising.

At the time the series originally aired, little was made of the General Lee sporting a Confederate flag on its hood. In 2015, after then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spoke out against the depiction of the flag in popular culture, Warner Bros. elected to stop licensing products with the original roof. The company announced that all future Dukes merchandise would drop the design element. Schneider disagreed with the decision, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Is the flag used as such in other applications? Yes, but certainly not on the Dukes ... Labeling anyone who has the flag a ‘racist’ seems unfair to those who are clearly ‘never meanin’ no harm.'”

8 Surprising Facts About Paul Newman

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

With roles as varied as pool shark “Fast” Eddie Felson in 1961’s The Hustler (and 1986's The Color of Money) and alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin in 1982’s The Verdict, Paul Newman never conformed to type. The versatile actor spent decades as a movie star, auto racer, and part-time salad dressing pitchman. In honor of what would have been Newman’s 95th birthday on January 26, 2020, take a look at some lesser-known details of the performer’s life and career.

1. Paul Newman originally wanted to be a football player.

Born in Cleveland and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Paul Newman was the offspring of Arthur, a sporting goods store owner, and Teresa, whose love of theater eventually proved contagious. But Newman originally had his sights set on a sports career. He played football in high school and college before enlisting in the U.S. Navy Air Corps, where he served as a radio operator (as he was ineligible to be a pilot due to being colorblind).

When Newman returned home in 1946, he attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio on a football scholarship. After getting arrested for fighting and being kicked off the team, Newman decided to shift his major to theater. He eventually wound up in summer stock and then the Yale School of Drama before heading off to be a full-time actor in New York.

2. Paul Newman thought his first film was the worst movie ever made.

After stints on stage and in television, including roles in Playhouse 90, Newman was offered the starring role in 1954’s The Silver Chalice, about a Greek slave who crafts the cup used during the Last Supper. While the $1000 weekly salary was welcome, the film was not. Newman later asked friends to sit through it while drubbing it as the worst film ever made. He had better luck two years later when he played boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956). In 1958, Newman earned his first of 10 Academy Award nominations for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

3. Paul Newman was often mistaken for Marlon Brando.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward standing outdoors, circa 1962
Paul Newman and wife Joanne Woodward, circa 1962.
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Early in their respective careers, Newman was regularly approached by people who thought he was Marlon Brando. Rather than correct them, he would oblige their request for an autograph by signing, “Best Wishes, Marlon Brando.”

4. Paul Newman frequently enjoyed faking his own death.

Newman, who was described by most who knew him as an affable man, had a mischievous streak that often manifested in practical jokes on his directors. A frequent target was George Roy Hill, who directed Newman in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1973’s The Sting, and 1977’s Slap Shot. Newman cut Hill’s desk and car in half during filming of the first two films. While making Slap Shot, he crawled behind the wheel of a wrecked car and pretended he had been in an accident, much to Hill’s horror.

While making 1960’s Exodus, Newman pranked director Otto Preminger by tossing a dummy off a building knowing Preminger would think it was him: Preminger collapsed in shock. He repeated the joke during shooting of 1973’s The MacKintosh Man, tossing another dummy off a 60-foot building in front of director John Huston.

5. A movie introduced Paul Newman to racing.

It was starring in the 1969 racing film Winning that led Newman down a path of competitive racing in his private life. In 1972, Newman started driving on an amateur level before winning his first professional race in 1982. At age 70, he was part of the winning team in the 1995 Daytona 24-Hours sports car endurance race and continued to drive through 2005. The hobby was one of the few things that could get Newman, who was notoriously press-shy, to open up to media. “I’ll always talk about racing because the people are interesting and fun, the sport is a lot more exciting than anything else I do, and nobody cares that I’m an actor,” Newman said. “I wish I could spend all my time at the racetrack.”

6. Richard Nixon considered Paul Newman an enemy.

Actor Paul Newman is pictured in Venice, Italy in 1963
Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images

President Richard Nixon, who was no stranger to controversy, liked to keep tabs on people he considered volatile and in opposition to his politics. While that normally included political figures, his “enemies list” also included Newman. The actor earned the honor by supporting 1968 presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey and being an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War. Oddly, Newman and Nixon had some personal history: Both men shared use of a Jaguar on loan from an automobile dealer. When Newman learned that Nixon was driving the car during part of the week, he left a note saying Nixon should find no trouble operating a car with a “tricky clutch,” a nod to Nixon’s “Tricky Dick” nickname. When Nixon gathered his list of rivals in 1971, Newman’s name was on it. The actor later got a copy and had it framed.

7. Martha Stewart helped put Paul Newman’s salad dressing on the map.

Today it's not uncommon for major actors to lend their images to food and alcoholic beverages. In the early 1980s, it was unusual, though Newman wasn’t looking to make history—only salad dressing. The actor enjoyed mixing an oil and vinegar blend and giving it out to friends and family around the holidays. With friend A.E. Hotchner, Newman bottled a batch and dispensed it over the 1980 Christmas season. Martha Stewart, who was then a caterer, was living in Newman's neighborhood at the time and reported a blind taste test was in favor of the dressing. Newman agreed to put his face on the bottle and call it Newman’s Own. The dressing and the foods to come—including spaghetti sauce—generated profits that Newman donated entirely to charity. As of 2015, the company has delivered an estimated $430 million to charitable causes.

8. Paul Newman once offered part of his salary to a co-star.

While making the 1998 film Twilight with Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon, Newman was surprised to discover that both he and Hackman were making considerably more than Sarandon, despite all three receiving equal billing. Sarandon told the BBC in 2018 that Newman then offered to give up a portion of his salary to make things equitable.

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