Twin Peaks Archive recently caught up with artist, actor, author and all-around renaissance man Richard Beymer. With his novel 'Impostor' due for publication soon, we thought it was about time to ask him some questions. Richard is a very private person who does not consent to interviews very often. So why us? Was it the fact that we asked no questions about West Side Story? Or, was it the pictures we had of him with the new girl at One Eyed Jacks? You decide.
Twin Peaks Archive: How long have you been writing your novel 'Impostor'? Is it an autobiography?
Richard Beymer: Well, actually it's referred to as an Unauthorized Autobiography. Let's see, I started writing this book in 1973. So that's a long time, but when I started writing it I didn't know that I was writing a novel .... I was just writing for the fun of it ... to explore the process... It wasn't until years later I realized I might have a novel here. For years I tried to write a screenplay ... I would get about 20 good pages then the whole thing would just peter out ... I could never figure out where the plot should go next .... and frankly I would just write what came to me naturally .... It might be the beginning of a story that went nowhere, or a though, just anything that came to me at the moment .... a poem, unrelated thoughts, dreams.
Anyway, I would keep all these writings, piles of writing, with the intent of one day collaging them together later. I like collage very much, I was always doing collage: photos from magazines, my own photos, words, films. Then I started writing my own dreams and categorizing them like: dreams about sex, dreams about death, dreams about pencils, dreams about gorillas ... you know, dreams!
I started getting really excited about overheard conversations, like when you're in a restaurant and you're eating and you overhear somebody in the next booth talking about something to a friend and I would write that down, but I couldn't write fast enough. So what I did was I started carrying a little tape recorder and I carried this tape recorder with a little microphone up my sleeve and I could turn it on from my pocket. Tricky. I wanted to get all these great conversations because the dialog was better than anything I could write.
So I started recording everybody and they didn't know it. And I would type those conversations out and keep them in "my box". I bugged my telephone and I recorded people's conversations with me for years then I bugged my apartment -I just bugged everything and I found that I had all these great things in "my box". The great thing that I found was that in this "box" where I had all this stuff, that dream that I had maybe three years ago, it fit perfectly with some overheard conversation in some booth or something and I started putting these together and sometimes there would be a suggestion that there was a connection between two things that I had and this kept going on for years.
And I was going CRAZY! But what happened is that it started making crazy sense. There were people, there were plots and I kept writing more and more. Not just using stuff that I had recorded but I was really able to write now and collage it in with the other stuff. It's been thirty years. My God, I can't believe I've been writing this book for that long.
Twin Peaks Archive: Have you kept a diary or journal in the past?
Richard Beymer: This book is my diary, it is my secrets, my problems, my fears and my doubts. It is the whole kitten caboodles.
Eventually all this madness that I was writing started turning into.... I mean, I wasn't writing a novel, but it started looking like one and feeling like one and it got very personal, you know? You see it was all about a diary. That was the thing, because the interesting thing about diaries are.... and to be perfectly frank, when I would stay at someone's home or I was house sitting I would actually read other people's diaries if I saw them. I mean I had absolutely no problem with just opening a diary up and reading.
If somebody's just writing, you know "I went to the store today and I saw Suzie... " that's not very interesting. But if they're really writing good stuff, secret stuff, then you want to read the diary, right? That's what keeps you. It isn't a plot it's how much the person reveals. Now THAT is the exciting thing. When they really talk about interesting things and secret things they're feeling that they never show you during the day but they only talk about in the diary. And that's what it's about.
If you want to know all the answers to this question, pay the $16 and read the book, then we can talk more about it.
Twin Peaks Archive: How did you get the role of Ben Horne in Twin Peaks?
Richard Beymer: I think you'll have to ask David how I got Twin Peaks. My agent called me up and said "Would you like to meet David?" and I went and David and I talked and you know, talking with David is always fun. They called me the next day and said come to work. I don't know how I got the part, I really don't.
I didn't know David, but I knew Charlotte Stewart, the actress who played Bobby Brigg's mother in Twin Peaks. I knew her when she was working with David on Eraserhead. At the time I was working on a film called The Innerview. I had learned how to meditate in 1967 and starting making this film which I was shooting and editing for 7 years. I started shooting it in
16mm then ran out of money and it was right around the time that Super 8 film was coming out so I started working with that. So David and I were making movies at the same time, me in LA, Big Sur, London, New York and wherever else it took me. The movie opened in LA and Charlotte and I stayed up all night waiting for the reviews to come out in the paper. In the end
.... David went on to become a major force in filmmaking and I went on to become a nobody.
Joanna Ray, the Casting Director, knew my agent and in the 80's she wanted David and me to meet on several different occasions for projects that he was working on, but it was never right. And then Twin Peaks came along and it was right.
Twin Peaks Archive: Was there a difference in the directing styles of David Lynch and the others on the show?
Richard Beymer: YES, OF COURSE! (Richard responds in person here! )
Twin Peaks Archive: Would you have liked your charactor to have been the killer of Laura Palmer?
Richard Beymer: It was a television show. We hit our marks and said our lines. You know, David would write something and I didn't really care as long as I had a few good things to say. It was acting.
Twin Peaks Archive: Do you have a favorite scene?
Richard Beymer: Yes, there is a scene in which I am sitting in my office watching old 16mm films of my family and somebody(I forget the characters name) walks in and tells me that I am through, I'm done. David was not directing that episode, but the director deliberately kept the camera rolling and let me keep going with my acting. That was my favorite scene.
Twin Peaks Archive: Can you talk about the wonderful photos you took during the final days of shooting? Do you plan on offering those photos for sale again in the future?
Richard Beymer: Yes, the photos will be available to folks as soon as the Twin Peaks Gold Box DVD set is released in October. As far as the camera, I think it was an Olympus and it had Tri-X film in it because the sets were kind of dark. That's the technical stuff. It was just the last episode that I photographed because we didn't have a still photographer on the set so I asked David if during the last week of the shoot if I could take some pictures and he gave me the thumbs up.
Mosiac and photos of Richard by Erin Skipper
Twin Peaks Archive: So you're really into photography?
Richard Beymer: I carry my camera with me all the time!!!
Twin Peaks Archive: Did you keep any props or costumes from the show?
Richard Beymer: No, just the photos.
Twin Peaks Archive: There are rumors that there are some deleted scenes from Fire Walk With Me that you were in. Is this true?
Richard Beymer: No, we never even shot them. I was in the script but then they didn't even shoot them. They didn't shoot a lot of things that were in the script because when they were shooting the movie David went off in a whole different direction.
Twin Peaks Archive would like to thank Richard for granting us this rare interview! Please pop on over to his MySpace page and say hello. A BIG thanks also to Erin Skipper for making this interview happen in the first place. Thank you. Thanks also to the David Lynch Foundation. You can check out some more mosiacs here courtesy of Erin Skipper and Richard Beymer. We will keep everyone up to date with the latest information on Richard's soon to be published novel 'Impostor'!