Kyle MacLachlan Twin Peaks Fallout interview

Kyle MacLachlan on his new series Fallout, Dune, David Lynch and poutine

An interview with the actor of Twin Peaks fame about why audiences love the apocalypse, chatting with David Lynch and Timothée Chalamet and memories of eating hearty meals while making bad movies in Montreal.

Growing up in a house full of cinephiles during the height of daytime and primetime soaps completely prepped me for Twin Peaks.

The unlikely mainstream popularity of a TV series co-created by David Lynch meant that even my elementary school friends were buzzing every week about the show’s atmosphere, its terrifying moments and whether Agent Cooper would ever figure out who killed Laura Palmer. (No spoilers, but if you haven’t seen the series yet, time to get on it.)

34 years later, I had the opportunity to interview Kyle MacLachlan about a new series he’s part of: Fallout, a video game adaptation set in post-nuclear Los Angeles. As a fan of Westworld, MacLachlan was drawn to the project, in part, because it was executive-produced and partly directed by Jonathan Nolan — the co-creator of Westworld and co-writer of five films helmed by his brother Christopher — and because of the complexity of his role as Overseer Hank, the leader of one of Fallout’s luxury underground vaults where the lucky few live radiation-free. 

“I was flattered that they thought of me, honestly, and I liked Hank’s upbeat personality. He was a leader by example who could speak well and was passionate about what he did, he was a great dad — all wonderful qualities. And there’s another side to him that we just scratch the surface of at the end of the first episode. They planted the seeds really well, and there’s a deeper story going on here that’s going to be interesting to explore as only a series can.”

Kyle MacLachlan Fallout interview
Ella Purnell and Kyle MacLachlan in Fallout

In Fallout, there’s a vast post-apocalyptic world to discover through its lead characters, among them Hank’s daughter Lucy (Ella Purnell), whose heroic traits emerge as she’s forced to leave the vault, to the Brotherhood of Steel armored soldier Maximus (Aaron Moten) to the undead cowboy known as the Ghoul (Walton Goggins), a source of comic relief despite his grotesque appearance. While not quite as bleak as HBO’s The Last of Us, Fallout is part of a long line of dystopic titles that have flourished in the 21st century, a trend I asked MacLachlan to comment on.

“People love stories about people who can survive. Survival is such a big theme in Fallout, and what you have to do to survive, and I think we all believe that, regardless of whatever circumstances might be around the corner, we will be the person who can make it. All humans think we’re gonna get through this somehow, and we like to see stories about endurance.

“But maybe we are in sort of a bleak period right now — although we did have Barbie as one of the top films of last year, that was sort of a fun romp, although asking a lot of serious questions. You could also point to Oppenheimer as part of the fascination with destruction.”

Kyle MacLachlan Dune 1984
Francesca Annis and Kyle MacLachlan in Dune (1984)

Having played Paul Atreides in David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune in 1984, MacLachlan jokingly advised Timothée Chalamet to “go easy on the spice” when Chalamet was first cast in the role in 2019. The two Pauls later met at an Oscar afterparty in 2022.

“Timothée and I had a brief but very lovely conversation about the challenges of Paul and working on that role, which was a nice shared moment. I was looking forward to the (first) movie as much as anybody else, and it was good, I enjoyed it,” MacLachlan said (our interview took place in early February, prior to the release of Dune: Part Two). “I just really, really love the book and I love the world of Dune.”

MacLachlan last worked with David Lynch in 2016 on Showtime’s batshit Twin Peaks: The Return — a third season of the series that had MacLachlan playing evil and halfwit incarnations of Dale Cooper over 18 episodes (a fascinating exercise with fantastic moments that was ultimately unsatisfying, if you ask me). Though they don’t have any plans for another project at the moment (“It would be a thrill,” MacLachlan says), they do see each other socially — along with one of their fellow Blue Velvet alumni.

“Oh yeah, we’re practically neighbours in Hollywood. When I’m in town, I see David every few months. In fact, I was talking with Laura Dern, who is also a friend, and her birthday is coming up and my birthday is coming up so we were going to try and have a little brunch over at David‘s house, the three of us. Sometimes we just get together and reminisce and tell funny stories about each other. We have such a long history — gosh.”

David Lynch, Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan on the set of Blue Velvet (1986)

Asked about whether he’d been to Montreal, MacLachlan recalled shooting the TV movie Thunder Point here in 1998. “It was my one attempt to play sort of an action-hero/mercenary. It didn’t turn out very well,” he said.

“It’s a beautiful city. It didn’t feel like you were in an American or Canadian city, it was a different vibe. I really enjoyed it there. And the food there is unbelievable.”

As for whether he tried poutine, MacLachlan said, “Yeah. It’s good! It makes sense. I like a hearty meal, so it was perfect. It was alright by me.”

My final question for MacLachlan was about acting — specifically where he finds inspiration and whether any performances that he’s seen recently have been particularly impressive.

“The best place to go for inspiration is to watch a film. I was watching The Holdovers not long ago, and Paul Giamatti really immersed himself in that character so completely. I really enjoyed that.

“I recently watched Heat again, and you get the chance to see Pacino and De Niro together, which, at the time when that film came out, I remember it was a really big deal amongst actors in L.A., and probably around the world. You saw this wonderful respect between the two of them, like an appreciation for what the other one was doing. Nobody tried to take over the scene, it was very mutual, very watchful — very rich performances. I thought it was an incredible and mesmerizing scene. Revisiting things like that are always inspiring. 

“Gene Hackman’s performance in The French Connection and how balls to the wall he was in that, and Ethan Hawke‘s performance in Training Day — I looked at that and I said, ‘Wow, well these are people who do what I do at the top of their game.’ So I’m continually inspired and impressed by performances like those.” ■

Fallout, starring Ella Purnell, Aaron Moten, Walton Goggins, Moises Arias, Kyle MacLachlan & more

Fallout will premiere on Prime Video on Thursday, April 11.

This article was originally published in the April 2024 issue of Cult MTL.

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