Twin Peaks Archive recently had the pleasure of chatting with actress and David Lynch insider Charlotte Stewart! As Mary X in Eraserhead and Betty Briggs in Twin Peaks, she knows a thing or two about Lynchland, so here we go...
Twin Peaks Archive: How did you first get into acting?
Charlotte Stewart: I attended The Pasadena Playhouse College of Theatre Arts and while I was a student I got a role in a small picture called "Damaged Goods." That got me an agent and my first lead role on "The Loreta Young Show" I was 19.
Twin Peaks Archive: You starred in 'Speedway' with Elvis. Was that exciting for you or...?
Charlotte Stewart: I was very excited to be working with Elvis. It wasn't a very good picture and he was the first to say so. But we sat together most of the day and he held my hand and told me stories about his Mom and being in the army. I was impressed with his southern manners. It's an experience that I'm glad I have in my memories.
Twin Peaks Archive: Talk about the Liquid Butterfly shop
Charlotte Stewart: Before it was on Santa Monica Blvd, it was on LaCienega in "The Clear Thoughts Building" Is that LA or what? It was an office builing that also housed the managment for Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Crosby,Stills and Nash. Occassionally Jim Morrison would hide out in my store to watch the comings and goings of Electra Records across the street. We took a road trip together while he was waiting for his trial in Florida. We travelled up the coast and shot pool in little towns. No one recognized him.
Twin Peaks Archive: How did Eraserhead come about? When did you first meet David Lynch and Jack Nance? Did you know it would take so long to shoot?
Charlotte Stewart: My roommate Doreen Small was doing props at AFI with Jack Fisk. David needed an actress for Eraserhead and she volunteered me! He came to dinner, brought me the script which I didn't understand but I said fine. Off we went! Jack was already cast. And no, I had NO IDEA it would take 5 years.
Twin Peaks Archive: There has been alot of talk about Jack Nance and the demons he dealt with. What kind of person was he? What are your overall thoughts of Jack?
Charlotte Stewart: Jack was the first to admit he was an alcoholic and a bad one but he managed to stay sober for ten years, even though the suicide of his wife, Kelly. Alcohol had a romantic attraction for Jack and he tolerated sobriety as long as he could but in the end the bottle killed him. We will never know who caused his death. He died alone in a one room apartment in Pasadena, an "unsolved homicide". You can ear that last phrase in Jack's words.
Photo by Richard Beymer
Twin Peaks Archive: How did Twin Peaks come about for you?
Charlotte Stewart: Jack and I were sharing a house in the Valley (Sherman Oaks) when David called to say we were going to
Seattle to start the show.
Twin Peaks Archive: Talk about the charactor of Betty Briggs. How was she explained to you and how did you play her?
Charlotte Stewart: I had a brief meeting with Mark (Frost) and suggested that Betty was a strict Catholic and would be a good contrast to Major Briggs and therefore totally screwup Bobby. It worked. She was also very naive.
Twin Peaks Archive: I loved the little touches of your charactor. Do you remember the wonderful smiley face button you wore? And just how many aprons did she own?!?
Charlotte Stewart: I only wore the smiley button at Laura Palmers funeral! I can't believe you noticed that! Even the director didn't know it. I think Betty probably made her aprons and they matched her outfits.
Twin Peaks Archive: Did you take any photos or keep any costumes or props from the show?
Charlotte Stewart: I took lots of pictures as I always do when I work. I made a kind of collage of them.
Twin Peaks Archive: Do you keep up with any of the cast?
Charlotte Stewart: I see Grace once in a while and I write with Catherine.
Twin Peaks Archive: What's it like attending the Twin Peaks Fest?
Charlotte Stewart: It's wonderful. We see many of the same fans each year and they bring last years photos for us to see(although I wasn't there last year) I love that fans come from all over the world. It still amazes me.
Twin Peaks Archive: What's next for Charlotte Stewart?
Charlotte Stewart: I will be doing a film with Sid Haig called "Wittenberg". No start date yet. Other that that I will see everyone in North Bend in July!!!
TPA thanks Charlotte for taking the time for this interview! To learn more about Jack Nance, check out this great article that originally appeared in Premiere magazine. Also, don't forget to check out Charlotte's Liquid Butterfly site!