When Kyle MacLachlan made his debut as Agent Cooper on the sleeper hit Twin Peaks back in 1990, most audiences weren’t familiar with the fresh-faced actor playing the man in the trenchcoat. Before he became known for investigating the untimely death of Laura Palmer, dictating notes to his assistant Diane and eating pie and coffee, MacLachlan was already a staple in other David Lynch projects. He was in the sci-fi venture Dune in 1984 and one of Lynch’s most beloved pieces, Blue Velvet, in 1986.
But Agent Cooper struck a nerve, as did the moody, unexpectedly creepy show Twin Peaks when it hit the airwaves. Although the show only lasted two seasons and a prequel movie — Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me — it somehow resonated with a generation’s conscience. As MacLachlan told Entertainment Weekly on the eve of the Twin Peaks reboot, it took him some time to appreciate Agent Cooper and the series that will likely go down as one of his most significant projects.
“It was my first television experience, and you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone, or until you’ve experienced more of life. In the middle of it, I took it a little bit for granted.”
“So there’s now a sense of respect and gratitude, and to be able to revisit the character and the show and work with David with that mindset, it’s just a pleasure.”
In an interview with Esquire, MacLachlan took time to credit the show’s creator and director, David Lynch, who brought it to life with Mark Frost. Given the history the actor and director share, it’s no surprise MacLachlan had positive things to say; he also acknowledged Lynch’s often unique take on storytelling, for which he’s most widely known.
“When you hire David Lynch, you let David Lynch do David Lynch. And you just walk away. People have tried to take what he does and reshape it in some way, and…you can’t. He’s always been very clear about his vision.”
In an interview reported by The Canadian Press, MacLachlan revealed how his character has changed over the many years since Twin Peaks‘ debut, a difference he noted when he began filming the reboot in 2015. The evolution of Agent Cooper has as much to do with the changes in MacLachlan himself as what’s happened to Cooper since Season 2 of the original Peaks ended on a cliffhanger.
“I wasn’t the same person that I was 25-plus years ago, obviously, and this wasn’t Cooper as he was then. His boyishness, his enthusiasm for trees and coffee and pie, his sense of fair play and his intuitiveness, those were all still part of him. But it was in a slightly different version now.”
The changes are to be expected, given that the last series ended with Cooper literally trapped in a demon-infested environment. MacLachlan was mum on any possible spoilers for the new series, which was produced as one long film, to be broadcast over 18 hours of television.
Since Twin Peaks ended, MacLachlan has been seen on major television series like Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother, and Portlandia. He also had a stint on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. over the 2014-2015 season. He also was in the widely panned mid-1990s drama Showgirls.
Twin Peaks Season 3 debuts Sunday, May 21, on Showtime.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]