Interview conducted May 3rd, 2013 at midnight PST over Skype by Scott Prendergast, director of the films KABLUEY and THE DELICIOUS.
SCOTT: Hello! Where are you right now? Where am I skype-ing with you?
DIANE: I’m in Istanbul. In a wonderful neighborhood called Aynalıçeşme. And it’s a great neighborhood. It’s filled with – I would say a lot of Kurdish people. And now it’s the season where I walk through the streets, and laid out on the street on pieces of cloth, or hanging from rails or any place possible are hunks of goat and sheep fur. Because they either get it from the villages where they come from – or they open up their old bedding and take it out to air in the sun and beat it and let the dust come out. That’s what goes on in my neighborhood right now. I’m like five minutes from all the action in Taksim.
SCOTT: So now let me ask you just a few quick, background biographical questions. First, where were you born?
DIANE: Philly. I’m a Philly girl.
SCOTT: OK, but from your blog I know that you ran away to New York City in 1968.
DIANE: Yeah I ran away to New York when I was 16. In search of truth and beauty.
SCOTT: And did you find it?
DIANE: (laughs) Well the truth was I ended up with the misbegotten, forgotten misfits of the world.
SCOTT: And you were friends with Nico the singer and Allen Ginsberg the poet, correct?
DIANE: That’s correct.
SCOTT: And did you ever go back home to Philly?
DIANE: I went back home four years later with a baby boy. I was suffering from mononucleosis, I had a baby boy – and I went back home.
SCOTT: And then – I’m assuming that at some point you moved to Seattle? Or you moved to Washington state?
DIANE: Yeah. So I went back to Philly when I was 20. Took up with some crazy tye-dye wearing, fringe-bedecked, long-haired crazy man – and we took off in a van that I had collaged the outside of. And we left Philly for parts unknown. And at some point ended up in the Florida keys where we lived for a while. On Marathon Key. And then, I don’t know, somehow I ended up in California and then Oregon, where I did my back-to-the-earth trip in a little cabin with wood for the only source of heat and cooking. And I had my own garden and that kind of thing. And an outhouse. And then eventually up to Seattle. Actually it was in Ashland, Oregon where I first started acting.
SCOTT: As part of the Shakespearean festival there?
DIANE: As a fringe of that scene. So a group of us had started something known as Ashland Resident Theater. And I was a part of that.
SCOTT: And what took you to Seattle?
DIANE: I got more and more interested in acting and wanted to seriously study. I auditioned for Cornish Theater of the Arts, their drama department, and was accepted. But then I couldn’t keep going to Cornish because I had to work. And I had to quit the program. But I kept auditioning. And I started getting cast in roles in different theater groups. And slowly, got my equity card and my SAG card and I guess I was a “professional actress.”
SCOTT: And did you do television commercials out of Seattle?
SCOTT: Do you remember any in particular?
DIANE: Well I remember the audition that made me stop acting. My agent called me and asked me to go down to audition for “2000 Flushes Toilet Bowl Cleaner.” A national, big time commercial. Do they still have this product in the states?
SCOTT: I don’t know about that one.
DIANE: OK. So I walk into the place where the audition is taking place. And of course it’s filled with actors, you know warming up and stretching and (makes funny mouth stretching noises) and saying their lines - and it looks like a lunatic asylum, of course. And if you could harness the energy, you wouldn’t need electricity because there’s already so much electricity just from the people. And I looked around at all these people and I said “They’re here to sell toilet bowl cleaner!” And I thought “I didn’t flesh out the pockets of my soul to sell toilet bowl cleaner. What am I doing here?” And I left. I didn’t become an actress to perpetuate capitalism.
SCOTT: So then, how did the whole Twin Peaks thing begin for you? What was the first inkling of it?
DIANE: There was a casting agent – I think it was Susie Dixon – who called me and said would I come and pick up a script and look at it, there’s going to be auditions for this... at that point I’m not sure that they knew it was going to be an ongoing series. There was going to be this made-for-TV film shot in the Seattle area directed by David Lynch. So I picked up a script, looked it over, came back and expected what was always the case – where I walk in a room and there’s a video camera and Susie would film me and maybe there’d be another actor or two to do lines with or maybe I’d do lines with Susie. And that’s what I was anticipating. So I walked in, and her assistant says “Please come this way,” opens a door, and I go in and David Lynch is sitting there. Which was quite a surprise, needless to say. And so I sat down and he said “How are you?” and I started to cough because I was just getting over a really bad cold. And I said “Fine except for this phlegm ball problem that I seem to have.” And he said “Tell me more – about the phlegm ball.” (laughs) So I started to wax poetic, talking about how I saw this thing about phlegm balls being attached to larynxes and this epidemic of phlegm balls. And he replied that he had a theory about “barbed phlegm balls.” And we went on this whole crazy “phlegm ball/barbed phlegm ball” journey as Susie Dixon was kind of doubled over in laughter and I’m thinking “This isn’t how I pictured the day going.” But after the phlegm ball interaction, he asked if I had ever been a waitress, he asked for some experiences, tell him about some experiences, which I did, after which he said “Hmm, I think there’s something for you in this, I think I have a part for you in this.”
SCOTT: Now let me ask you, let’s back up, when you got the script – I actually looked again today at the script for what was then called “Northwest Passage”...
SCOTT: And there are several characters that are referred to as “Desk Clerk” or “Concierge” but there’s no actual – your character, who is Julie the Concierge – doesn’t actually appear in that script and doesn’t have any lines. So when you read the script, what were you reading?
DIANE: That’s a good question. He asked about waiting tables. So it was some sort of waiting position I thought or... I don’t know... It wasn’t a lot of lines and it was some sort of non-descript thing. I don’t really remember.
SCOTT: So then you’re in the meeting with him. And he says “I think there’s something for you.” And then you left? Or – what happened next?
DIANE: Well I said thanks, and nice to meet you and stay safe from barbed phlegm balls. And then whenever at some point I got a call from Susie Dixon saying you got a part in this thing and it’s now called Twin Peaks. And can you pick up a script and I’ll give you shooting dates.
SCOTT: And when you got the script, were there then lines for you?
DIANE: Yes, uh-huh.
SCOTT: So the lines that you speak in the pilot were by then in the script?
SCOTT: So maybe he crafted that part for you a little bit?
SCOTT: So then what happened?
DIANE: OK so where we filmed was up in...
SCOTT: Kiana Lodge, right? In the San Juan Islands off of Seattle? That location was used for the Great Northern Hotel interiors.
DIANE: Yeah, it’s been a while since I lived in... Up towards the hills in some lodge. I was driven up and shown to my little trailer. And I arrived, it was chilly up there and I remember I arrived in a pair of sweat pants that are like fatigue sweat pants, camouflage sweat pants? And I had this big, big surplus army jacket that I had bought in a Goodwill store or something and the crazy thing was (laughs) that David Lynch and I were dressed identically. And we kinda looked at each other like, “OK...” (laughs)
SCOTT: That’s hilarious. Now, you have a little name tag in the pilot. But it’s hard to read. Does it say JULIE or CONCIERGE? Do you remember?
DIANE: I think it says CONCIERGE.
SCOTT: Last summer I went to the San Juans and I drove down to Kiana Lodge and we went to the room where your desk was, in the lobby of the Great Northern. And I took a lot of photos, comparing the wall to the pilot. It’s a beautiful lodge. In reality it’s a place for weddings and events and corporate retreats, that kind of thing. A very beautiful location.
DIANE: Yes it is. I wonder if the desk still has coffee stains from where Sheryl Fenn sticks her pencil in the cup.
SCOTT: (laughs) There was no desk anymore. Were you waiting around for a while on set or what do you remember about the actual shoot day?
DIANE: I remember it was – (laughs) I remember a few things that stand out... I remember it was really cold. And I was asking isn’t there any thermal underwear I can wear underneath my top? And they ran out, somehow somebody procured some thermal underwear because it was really quite cold. And I remember... Piper Laurie? Yes, Piper Laurie was so lovely.
SCOTT: Oh, so she was there the day you were there?
DIANE: Yeah. And she was really, really lovely. Most of the other people were, I don’t know, busy prepping, busy getting into character – but she was so lovely and welcoming.
SCOTT: She was probably there because Kiana Lodge also doubled as the Martell home in the pilot. The Martell kitchen was on the other side of a door in that meeting room.
DIANE: I just remember her – she stood out – because she was so lovely. I remember this overall sense of what an overall warm lovely welcoming woman. And then, I remember thinking “Oh my God, it’s Rich... it’s Tony!” [Richard Beymer as Benjamin Horne, had played Tony in the film version of West Side Story in 1961]
SCOTT: Yes and you had a scene with him!
DIANE: Yeah! Yes, and I only wanted to go (laughs, sings) “Tony, Tony...” Like that, but no, no, of course. Richard. I had never heard or seen or thought of him since the days I used to enact West Side Story with friends in my house after our classes were over. And... I remember there was a great buffet at lunch time. Oh the other thing I remember was at first when my desk was filled with coffee from Sherilyn Fenn and I was trying to wipe it up and they said cut, I would start to dry my hands and then there would be someone who would come over and dry them for me. And at first, this was strange, but after the third time it’s like, “Where’s my hand dryer?” (laughs) You can sort of become used to these things.
SCOTT: The finer things in life.
DIANE: Yes. Or the woman who would brush the lint of my jacket.
SCOTT: Right. Anything else you remember about that scene with Sherilyn Fenn where she pops your coffee cup with the pencil?
DIANE: I would say that I don’t know if she was acting because she always behaved the same way from the first time I set eyes on her. So either she was completely in character at all moments or that’s who she is. She was always like this kind of out-there, styrofoam-cup-defacing girl. (laughs)
SCOTT Your last scene is when the foreign investors are checking out and you say...
DIANE: “The Norwegians are leaving.” And I said it so many times that at the end of the scene someone said to me “You now have the most lines of anyone in this entire thing.” Because for some reason David Lynch wanted it to go and go. And I did it a number of times and he said “Keep saying it, keep saying it, keep saying it...” And I kept saying it “The Norwegians are leaving. The Norwegians are leaving! The Norwegians – are leaving...” And it went on. And on and on and on. The Norwegians are leaving. Yes. That’s the thing I remember most. Because I said it the most times.
SCOTT: So I wanted to tell you I went to the Twin Peaks fest two years ago, and people come from around the world to visit the locations of Twin Peaks. And when I was there it was the 20th anniversary of the pilot. And there were people there from Japan – because you probably know the show was huge in Japan – and there was also a couple there from Norway. And every time this couple would leave the room everyone would shout out...
DIANE: The Norwegians are leaving!
SCOTT: So you could say that line has had an impact on pop culture.
DIANE: I suppose so. Maybe. (laughs)
SCOTT: Anything else you remember about the shoot?
DIANE: I do remember that Tony (Richard Beymer) broke out into a tap dance after one scene – and it was very nice. It was delightful.
SCOTT: So then once the shoot was over – you went back to Seattle...
SCOTT: And then, what was the next that you heard about the show? Did you know it was coming on the air? Or did you lose track of it altogether?
DIANE: I think that was about the time I was given a fellowship to the University of Delaware’s acting program and I was kind of caught up with going to Delaware and getting my M.A. in acting.
SCOTT: So when the series went on the air were you aware of it? Did you know it was airing?
DIANE: I think I might have been in Delaware at that time.
SCOTT: Because it was a huge cultural sensation. I would think that someone would have recognized you or spoken to you about it. Particularly if you were amongst other actors.
DIANE: I do remember that one classmate who left the program I was in, at some point, phoned me or mailed me or something, saying that he saw me in it. But let me tell you something, I’ve never seen Twin Peaks.
SCOTT: Wow. I’m amazed. So you never watched it at all?
DIANE: No I’ve never seen it.
SCOTT: Why didn’t you see it at the time or since? No interest or it just didn’t happen?
DIANE: I don’t have a television.
SCOTT: Did you ever have a television?
DIANE: (laughs) When I was a child, growing up, yeah.
SCOTT: OK, so you just moved on with your acting career and your studies and you left Twin Peaks behind. And you didn’t ever look back.
DIANE: Yeah, after this – I left this fellowship program in Delaware, went back to Seattle, did a bit more acting and then after a show that should never have been done – Harry Kondoleon’s first play that he wrote when he was still at – where did he go to school? Harvard or one of those schools – and everyone’s saying at the end “interesting” which you know means “what a horrible piece of shit” – that and the commercial audition for “2000 Flushes” and I decided to become a pschyotherapist – and started a masters program in psychology.
SCOTT: So once the Twin Peaks pilot became a show – a few of the cast members who were from Seattle [Wendy Robie, Sheryl Lee] moved down to Los Angeles to be on the actual television series. And your character was a memorable character in the pilot and I was surprised that she didn’t appear in the series. But I guess you weren’t even aware of the series?
DIANE: Yeah and I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t notify people that I had moved and was doing this master’s program in Delaware or if David Lynch decided to drop the character.
SCOTT: Wait – but if you were in Twin Peaks, and it’s still on TV and now available on iTunes, you must be getting some sort of residuals, right? Or did you leave that all behind?
DIANE: Oh every year I get some amount like $5.97 from Screen Actors Guild.
SCOTT: So they have your address in Turkey?
DIANE: No they send it to my permanent address back in Seattle.
SCOTT: When was the last time you were back in the States?
DIANE: I haven’t been back for 10 years since I left.
SCOTT: Wow. So then in 2003 you decided to leave the United States altogether.
SCOTT: And why was that?
DIANE: Why was that... Um. Because I had this sense of – that what we consider reality has so much to do with where we grow up – and the culture we grow up in. And I had a feeling that if you go to other places in the world, you find that other people have different values, that other people look at things differently, and I wanted to expand my awareness. And because I don’t think that Americans are very good at living their lives.
SCOTT: Why not? How so?
DIANE: I think most Americans are spiritually bankrupt. I think that without realizing it this thing of materialism and consumerism is like a cancer that has spread through America. I think that this whole idea of viewing a person through the eyes of status is endemic. And I think that work is what people know. That the pleasure of living is not well known. I don’t think an American looks at another person without saying “What do you do?” – thinking that the job they have defines the person and defines how they relate to the person: “Are you higher status? Are you lower status? Or are we equal?”
SCOTT: So on your blog – on the bio update it says “10 years ago, with tears in my eyes and a choke in my throat, I left the United States.” So why was it an emotional thing for you?
DIANE: I’m leaving everything I know. I’m leaving deep friendships. I’m leaving the place I grew up. And I don’t know if and when I’m coming back.
SCOTT: And did you go directly to Turkey? Was that your first stop?
DIANE: Well, I went to Greece. I went to Crete to spend a month getting a degree that would allow me to teach English as a second language. But after getting it, this certificate, I immediately applied for work in Istanbul. Because is 1998 I had travelled in Turkey and I felt things there that I had never felt in my life.
SCOTT: Like what?
DIANE: A sense of “I think I belong here.” Which is really strange. I never felt that in the states.
SCOTT: What do you think it was about Turkey that made you feel that way?
DIANE: I think Turks are some of the most hospitable people in the world. The Ottoman Empire was an empire that was used to welcoming foreigners. And there are different standards for foreigners and Turks. For foreigners, you don’t know what it is to be Turkish. We forgive you, you are who you are. You do what you do. But also Turks are very hot blooded people. They celebrate everything. There’s breakfast celebration, there’s lunch celebration, there’s chocolate celebration, there’s dinner celebration. They celebrate life. And five days after I arrived in Istanbul I found a Turkish woman who was renting a bedroom in her flat. And there’s a saying Turkey that an apple that has been cut in half, and the two halves have been put back together. Her daughter said about myself and her mother. We were a perfect match. She is a madwoman. A woman who loves to celebrate life – and I have learned so much about being a better human being because of her generosity and her way of living.
SCOTT: So are you still acting?
DIANE: Well, I hadn’t for a long, long time. But last summer I acted in a film that was shot by a Turkish director. It was the first time I had acted since Twin Peaks maybe.
SCOTT: And what’s the name of the Turkish film?
DIANE: On Adim – “Ten Steps”
SCOTT: And you speak Turkish in the film?
DIANE: No I speak English.
SCOTT: Are you fluent in Turkish?
DIANE: I speak Turkish like a drunken two-year-old. Maybe an erudite drunken two-year-old.
SCOTT: What’s the film about? What’s your part?
DIANE: Oh Good Lord. I play a kind of wild, New York filmmaker who comes to Turkey to make a film. And the reason I come to Turkey to make a film is two-fold. One is that 25 years ago I left a son in Turkey. I had had this wild affair with a Turk, we had this son, and then for various reasons I left Turkey. So I come back to see my son who is an actor, and to make a film in the place where I met his father, and to put my son in the film.
SCOTT: Now how did you get the part? How did the director know that you were an actress at one time?
DIANE: 10 years ago I was sitting in this little café, drinking some tea, and talking to someone, when a guy sitting across the room in a black leather jacket said “I’m sorry I hear you speaking English – and what are you doing here?” And it’s this guy Fati, this director – he’s Turkish – but he had lived in Chicago for a while and studied acting. And we became friends and he was trying to do something with improv, so he got together with me and some other actors and we were working on some improv project which never really came to fruition but we stayed in touch. And he would call on me from time to time. And we’d throw ideas out together. Or if he had a script, he’d ask me to go over it, and tell him what I thought about it.
SCOTT: And does he have any idea that you were in Twin Peaks?
DIANE: Oh yeah. He knows.
SCOTT: How did you find that out? Did you tell him?
DIANE: Probably. I think he asked me if I had ever done anything that he’d know about and I said “Well, I was in this thing – this pilot for this thing that I understand has become quite famous – called Twin Peaks.”
SCOTT: And what did he say to that?
DIANE: People usually go “Wow! You were in Twin Peaks?!”
SCOTT: It’s interesting to me that it’s not a huge part of your life. When, to people like me, to so many people the world over who are obsessed with Twin Peaks, it’s played such a large role in their lives... How do you feel about something like that?
DIANE: (laughs) Speechless? I’m not often speechless. But I’ve never considered the ramifications of being in this thing you know? And I’d heard that there are people who are obsessed with it. But there are people who are obsessed with collecting old bubble gum wrappers. I should see it.
SCOTT: But, you know what the show is about, right? You read the script. Do you remember the script?
DIANE: Yeah I read the script at the time but honestly? As you’re saying things about it I’m like “Oh yeah...” But if someone had asked me what Twin Peaks was about, I wouldn’t have been able to say until talking to you.
SCOTT: Really? It’s the beginning of a big murder mystery. And they solve the murder in the second season. Around episode 8 of season 2. But it takes a long time. And it’s a very sad, dark, beautiful show. And the show has this huge cult following. And it still crops up in pop culture all the time. It’s a huge thing. Really. (long pause) Does it seem humorous to you that I’m so interested in Twin Peaks?
DIANE: Yes. (laughs). You know I did the shoot, then I went on, and I really haven’t thought about it much. I mean what’s funny is, every now and then, like recently, someone, an American I met here, who’s now back in San Francisco, she sent me this flagged email and “Was that you?? I watched the pilot and it was your name and it looked like you and how come you never mentioned this???” And I was like “Oh yeah, that was me.”
SCOTT: It’s an interesting level of celebrity. Where every now and then someone will say “Oh my God!” huh?
DIANE: Yeah, it’s like that. Actually, a friend here, who’s an artist, who does installations, he had watched it because of it’s cult following and then I got one of these emails, you know, “Diane! Why didn’t you ever tell me???”
SCOTT: And what do you say when people say that to you?
DIANE: “It didn’t occur to me. It doesn’t come up in my life.”
SCOTT: I’m going to send you the pilot, I’m going to find a way to send it to you and then I’d like to talk to you again just to get your reaction.
DIANE: OK. I’ll send you an address for me. Not my home, because sometimes things sent to Turkey don’t arrive. But I’ll send you the address of a school I know, where they can get packages for me. That would be great.
SCOTT: I’d just like to know what you think of it, because you left America, you left acting, you left it all behind – and then it turns out you’re a part of this huge pop-cultural event. I’d love to know what you think of it, seeing it for the first time.
So I purchased two DVDs from Amoeba Records in Los Angeles: #1 was the foreign import DVD of the pilot with the alternate ending, and #2 was a “Region 2” DVD from Spain of the pilot with Spanish subtitles. I FedEx’d them to Diane at the school address in Istanbul, and then hoped that the package would arrive – and that the DVDs would work. She wasn’t sure what would play in her computer. And then on May 29th at midnight PST we Skype’d again...
SCOTT: Did the DVDs work?
DIANE: The Spanish one worked. It was in English, and you had a choice of Spanish dubbing. And call me crazy, (laughs) but I decided to go for the English.
SCOTT: So now tell me – this was almost 25 years ago that you were in this pilot. In 1990. But you’re just seeing it for the first time. What was your reaction?
DIANE: As I was watching it, um, I thought “Well, this is all kind of strange and weird...” Actually the first thing I thought of was the film Blue Velvet? Yeah. I thought of the film Blue Velvet and I thought about how much I didn’t like it. It was dark and weird, and what’s it all about Alfie? (laughs) But you know, as I was watching – you know I’ve never been a TV watcher so I was trying to remember what was TV like? Before this? And although I’m not a TV watcher I had some sense, and the thing I could see was – “Hunh, there was probably nothing like this on TV before.” I actually enjoyed – there were two DVDs in the little box. When I watched the second, the second and third episode, I think I enjoyed it more because it seems like he was beginning to find his way more, in whatever it was that was his goal for the show. It was funnier. It felt a little more tongue-in-cheek. And then I sort of wondered how it developed because it was different – than the pilot.
SCOTT: Yeah, the second episode begins with him having breakfast in the Great Northern – and Audrey Horne is there in the sweater with the forest on it – and she’s flirting with him? And it’s sort of a lighter tone, I guess.
DIANE: Yeah, it is lighter. And I think, for the most part they got rid of that horrible piano music that’s played all through the pilot, that’s just so over the top, and kind of melodramatic. There’s a theme of course, that I had heard, that’s associated with Twin Peaks – that’s the song that the girl sings in the roadhouse. But then there’s this really awful piano music that goes through it. That’s very dramatic. But then thinking about it too, like scenes where the mother finds out – over the phone – just the way she’s crying... I thought “Well yeah, that wasn’t done before.”
SCOTT: Yeah I think that was a big moment in American television because one victim was being mourned on television for a very long time.
DIANE: Yeah it went on and on. And I thought “Oh yeah...” So I can see that it’s something that had a major impact because there was nothing like it before. But can I say I enjoyed it? I can’t say that.
SCOTT: OK but then there comes a point where YOU appear on screen. How did you feel about that?
DIANE: I went “Holy shit I was so young!” And I think everything I shot was there. It was just that the way the Norwegians was shot, originally, David kept the camera on me forever and just had me repeating it repeating it repeating it – and of course it sort of fades away in the actual pilot. But I think all my scenes were there. And I might have mentioned this before, but seeing it now, I remember that Sherilyn Fenn seemed the same all the time. And I wondered if she was acting, or if she was just this way all the time.
SCOTT: How would you describe her – and her character?
DIANE: A façade of airy and dreamy behind a highly manipulative person.
SCOTT: Yeah, I think that’s a perfect description of Audrey Horne. So now that you’ve finally seen this contribution to television history, almost 25 years later... And I contact you, out of the blue, and I want to talk to you about this thing you did, what is your understanding of it? Do you understand why it holds this place in pop culture? This whole experience with me interviewing you and sending you the DVDs, does it seem bizarre or do you understand?
DIANE: Both. I understand that there was nothing like it before – and that’s clear. And so I can understand why at the time... And I mentioned all this to a couple of people here and the next thing you know so many people are talking to me about it and – this is really interesting – I have all these people coming up to me saying “You know, I used to watch this thing with my friends and we thought we were the coolest people because we were watching this thing that was so different.” And more and more people are coming up to me and telling me their Twin Peaks tales. And that’s interesting, that it was such a powerful thing that sort of defined a whole generation. But why you, Scott, are still so interested - today? Now that confounds me. I must say. I really hate to disappoint you and all these “Twin Peaks people” out there (laughs) who seem to have some great attachment to this show. But...
SCOTT: It’s OK. I understand. But, did seeing the pilot make you miss acting?
DIANE: Seeing this didn’t – no it didn’t make we want to go back to acting. (laughs)
(c) 2013 TWIN PEAKS ARCHIVE