SCV interviews Kimmy Robertson of Twin Peaks
There comes a time in everyone’s life where they are exposed to the rich and colorful works of David Lynch. Whether it be his long collection of short films, his trademark trance-inducing feature films, or even the timeless classic Twin Peaks TV series, we all have been exposed to them one way or another. At SCV, our favorite work by David Lynch is definitely the entire Twin Peaks series, two seasons of murder-mystery, dream-like and intuitive storytelling that leaves the viewer guessing and jaw-dropped. Late last year we at SCV got in contact with Kimmy Robertson who plays the character of Lucy on the Twin Peaks series. Lucy’s character is the definition of cohesion and innocence in the show. She is the secretary at the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department and always expresses a sense of calmness and clarity when everyone else seems to exert the opposite. Lucy’s voice is such a beautiful sound, one that is unmistakable and truly belongs in this world that David Lynch had created. The following dialogue is a reflection on Kimmy Robertson’s past as well as her character in the Twin Peaks series.
Conducted by: Pouya G. Asadi
Your gripping character Lucy Moran from Twin Peaks, like many others from the show, did not appear in the film. There is an emphasized sense of darkness and menace in the film. Did this envelope-pushing edge and focus on Laura Palmer David Lynch was going for account for Lucy being left out of the shooting altogether or did you act in scenes that did not make the final cut?
Harry Goaz and I, (Andy and Lucy) did shoot a scene for the Twin Peaks film, Fire Walk With Me. In it we talked about the “raccoons being up at the mill again.” Raccoons entered the picture of several movies and various things I have been in because I would talk about my aunt and uncle’s cabin and how they fed the raccoons. Directors I’ve worked with seemed fascinated by that and I think it was in “Honey I shrunk the Kids” as well as Twin Peaks and the movie. As far as being cut out……I have heard there is a director’s cut that has most of the scenes that were cut, in it. I like to think that I am in David’s version ;-)
It has been said, Justin Theroux ” [...] belongs to a new generation of actors, familiar with Lynch’s early work, who have a great deal more insight into what Lynch is trying to achieve than the actors in [...] previous films. Interviews [...] suggested that they and the other actors they worked with were able to give Lynch what he asked for, and enjoyed the process, but remained rather puzzled about what was going on” (The Cinema of David Lynch, 180). IMDB notes that Mark Frost and David Lynch both encouraged you to ad-lib. What was that like to not know the intended outcome of the show, even on an episode to episode basis? Please, explain what the process was like for you, acting and not knowing how your part fit into the whole. Did you ad-lib whole scenes or just dialogue for scenes that were kind of generally out-lined?
I never ad-libbed ANYTHING on Twin Peaks. This is something that is really bugging me at this point in time. Media has a matter of how it works… which is called ‘selective reporting.’ They’ve taken a beautiful story I told on an interview and left out most of the important words. I digress… So when you act, you are asked to read lines and you do that in the character’s body. Mark Frost and David Lynch interviewed me and hired me from that interview because they saw something that either fit or inspired the character of Lucy. I remember from the very first shoot (on the Twin Peaks pilot episode) when we would be getting ready to shoot a scene David would do something very different than any other director on Earth. On MY Earth anyway. He cleared the set for a few minutes and sat with me on the set of the [Twin Peaks police] office. He was very focused…..as if we were talking about real life. He was also peaceful. He created a feeling of Lucy being at home. He told me that “Lucy has her finger on everything that goes on in the town of Twin Peaks. Lucy is ultra efficient and clear. She wants to make sure that the Sheriff does NOT misunderstand her in any way. No time is to be wasted on mistakes. Now… ‘How would Lucy tell the Sheriff that he has a phone call?’ Remembering that perhaps the office had recently been redecorated…”
What’s interesting to me is the effort that [David] made on clarity; it has been the most unclear and most misunderstood point of my life thus far.
It must have been astounding to be part of Andy Kaufman’s historic Carnegie Hall performance, how did that come about? Did you meet Andy personally? What was your part in the show? Did you get milk and cookies with him?
I recently walked by the theatre that Andy Kaufman did his show in here in Hollywood….it is not there anymore. He brought the show here from New York and recast the small parts like the dancers and stuff. I was asked to go to an audition where I did nothing at all. I got the job. It was being a Rockette. Andy was really nice all of the time. I remember him thanking me for being in his show and looking down at me….Andy was quite tall……a big warm smile and warm hands. I never went to get milk and cookies because I was a dancer and didn’t eat milk and cookies back then. Plus, one day they piled everyone into these buses and then they all drove away somewhere…..seemed kind of scary to me.
I love the Twin Peaks Fest. It is a one of a kind event that was started by my friends Pat and Don Shook. It is a love fest where you get to hang out in a magical place remembering the magical world called Twin Peaks. People have met and married there, broken up there, rested there and made life long friends there. The talent contest has become a serious event that is a little bit scary to judge. Don’t know how many more cans of cream corn are gonna win it. I really look forward to staying at the Salish in those fabulous beds with a fireplace.
And seeing everyone again.
As IMDB has it, you were starting a career in ballet before an agent who worked in the same office as your ballet company took a liking to your idiosyncratic style and unique sense of humor. Then you went on to get the first acting gig you tried out for, appearing in the teen comedy The Last American Virgin (1982). Was it the sudden attention you were sparking that made you want to act in the first place or was this already a passion of yours to some degree? Would you have gone on in your pursuit of acting had you not landed that role?
Yes, I was a ballet dancer for many years before acting became part of the picture. I took a job with a company that went on tour to Israel and I didn’t go, so I worked in the office for them. There at the office, an agent thought I was funny and asked me to go on an audition…there’s lots more to this story but I type really slow. I went on the audition and that turned into a job in the movie “The Last American Virgin.” Boaz Davidson was the director and the movie was an autobiography of his life in the 50′s. He was a great first director for me because he would listen to me talk, find something that he liked and then put it in the movie. I felt the creative spark turn on and that was it for me. I was now an actor. Of course my next directors were not like that at all. I had to be what they wanted me to be, rather than being an aspect of me. So the fun wasn’t there. But I was still dancing and did so until I got T.P. I didn’t have time to go on tour anymore. American Folk Ballet was who I had been dancing with for over 10 years. That was sad to have to let that go completely.
Back when Twin Peaks was on the air you appeared on television for an interview with David Letterman. You commented on how the actors were being given “fake scripts” and asked to do two-three versions of the same scene. But, when Letterman asked if this was tedious for you, you said, “I don’t mind because I don’t do it. I just do mine, just, it’s like the Lucy, Andy and Dick show, and then everybody else is on the regular show, Twin Peaks”. Would you elaborate on that?
No I can’t elaborate on that because that is what it became. The Lucy, Andy and Dick show….and then there was the regular show…Twin Peaks. I felt like all the ideas that they had for our characters were just abandoned and some one else was writing these scripts just to write something weird. The magic was sort of gone. But that’s TV for ya. Business as usual…
In Twin Peaks Lucy is an attractive lady on the road to becoming a woman. She is supportive, quite funny, and besides being a bit naive romantically she possesses poise, strength and what seems to be a guiding instinct to do good. This is demonstrated stunningly when she performs her dance number for the Miss Twin Peaks contest. How much did your training in ballet come in handy for this scene? Did you improvise this as well?
One day Mark Frost and David Lynch came up to me with silly grins on their faces and I thought “uh oh”….this could be scary. They said that they wanted me to dance on the show so they were having a beauty contest with a talent show in it. AND that they wanted me to choreograph it! I asked if it was supposed to be good and they nodded…I asked how long it was supposed to be and they said about 3or4 minutes. Then I said “is it supposed to be good in a real way or a Twin Peaks way?” They said a Twin Peaks way. SO I went home and choreographed a disney-ish dance to “Mac The Knife.” Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks composer) wrote new music for it but you can turn the sound down and hum “Mac The Knife” to it and it works great. I tried to be kind of a good dancer but not too good in the show because that’s what seemed appropriate. That was a fun scene.
photo credits: Frank Byers