Twin Peaks Usenet Archive
Subject: Leland Speaks! An interview with Ray Wise
From: email@example.com (Steve Carol)
Date: 1990-12-14, 19:36
If you have yet to catch Fresh Air on National Public Radio, make the
effort to find it. It is one of the best interview shows anywhere,
anytime. Produced in Philadelphia at WHYY, the show is hosted by
Terry Gross, a bright, articulate, broadly educated woman who holds her own
against film makers, actors, musicians, writers, even writers calling
her from the Federal Pen. Dont miss it!.
I say that 99% because its true, and only 1% because it may work in my
favor if the copyright police call me about what follows. Anyway, on
12/12 Terry talked with Ray Wise.
[Terry Gross says] [This interview is dedicated to television critic
David Biancouli (sp?) ] who seldom lets a week go by without
mentioning Twin Peaks on our show.
[audio from TP, Cooper says] Did you kill Laura Palmer?
[Leland howls repeatedly, and says] Thats a yes.
[Terry Gross] It was two Saturdays ago that Leland Palmer confessed to
killing his daughter, Laura Palmer. Right after the confession, the
evil spirit Bob left Leland's body, and Leland died -- which means the actor
who played him, Ray Wise, is out of the series. The perfect time we
thought, to ask Ray Wise what it was like to star on Twin Peaks.
Since the premier of Twin Peaks the characters in the series, and the TV
viewers who watched it, had asked the same question: Who killed Laura
Palmer? I asked Ray Wise when he found out.
[Ray Wise] I found out the [morning] after the Emmy Awards this last
summer, and Mark Frost and David Lynch called me up to their office --
actually called Ben Horn (Richard Bemer) and myself, and Sheryl Lee,
who played Laura and who played Maddie Ferguson, up to the office -- and
we went into a small room that was devoid of furniture. It was very dark
[Terry Gross begins to laugh] This is true - with a kind of lava lamp
[she really laughs] in the corner - a lava lamp waterfall, as I
recall; and David was sitting on the floor cross-legged, and so was Mark, and
so was Sheryl Lee, and Richard and I came in and we sat down,
cross-legged, and David leaned over and put his hand on my knee, and
he said "It was you". [TG laughs] "It was always you, from day one it
And I sort of bowed my head and curled up into a fetal position and
said -- I really can't say the word that I said at the time -- but it was
[TG] Why were you upset?
[RW] I didn't want it to be me, you know? I really - I -I grew to
love Leland Palmer and his strange ways, and I didn't want it to be
him. Oh, it's like having a close friend turn out to be a killer,
and go to prison, and all that sort of thing. I just didn't want
it to be Leland. I wanted Leland to go on and on [he chuckles].
[TG] Did it ease the pain though, knowing that in a way he was
innocent, 'cause after all he was possessed, it wasn't his own
motivation that killed Laura Palmer.
[RW] Absolutely. Mark went on to explain my last show, and the
meaning of the last show. And they also filled me in on some of
the background that I hadn't been aware of, that Bob had been
inside me for the last four or five years. Leland is a true
innocent in a sense because he was totally possessed by this evil
spirit Bob, and yeah, when they told me that it really took the edge
off it for me. I was able to accept it a lot better after that.
[TG] Did the writers know right from the start that you did it? You
know, that Leland Palmer was the vehicle...
[RW] Oh yeah, Mark and David, they promised me that they did [he
doesn't sound completely sure...] they knew it from the start. I
don't think they knew quite how they were going to arrive at that
point, but I think that they knew who they wanted it to be. And it
was me. I was the sacrificial lamb.
[TG] Let's talk about that last scene -- the death scene -- after
you confess, and then, you know, you're, you're [she approaches the
word with some embarrassment] you're barking [she laughs]. Was that
--whos idea was it for you to bark?
[RW] That's me, that's all me. Tim Hunter directed that episode and
Tim did a wonderful job, but I had all these things sorta planned out
in my head, the way I wanted to approach it anyway. The times when I
was possessed by Bob I wanted to exhibit certain things, and then when
I became Leland again I wanted to show certain things. The bark just
sort of, uh, came out -- very feral thing, very wolf-like, very
animal-like, and very vicious, and it just seemed to fit with the
woods motif. [They both laugh] You know, the wolf in the woods, that
kind of thing. So, I did it anyway.
[TG] So you've known the secret to who killed Laura Palmer since
the summer. Were you like pledged to secrecy, and were you protected
from the public in any way so that no one would find out...
[RW] Oh yeah, yeah, they made us do everything except sign a paper.
They stamped numbers on all of our scripts so that if one of our
scripts fell into foreign hands they would know the party responsible
for losing it. I mean it sounds funny, but it was true, that they
tried to impose maximum security on the set, so that no one would know
and so there wouldn't be any leaks. And they even tried to fool the
crew some times, you know, they would have us do certain scenes with a
couple of different actors. And they would film it, actually waste
money, and waste film to shoot superfluous footage just so that people
wouldn't know who the real killer was.
[TG] What were some of the ways people tried to get you to reveal who
killed Laura Palmer?
[RW] Well they just start talking to me, you know, they just start
talking to me and asking me supposedly harmless questions -- and it's
wonderful to be able to talk to you right now with this load off my
chest [she laughs]. I don't have anything to protect [he begins to
laugh] I don't have anything to protect any more. I can be pretty
truthful, and it's great to feel that way. But people would just
start out asking me little questions, seemingly harmless ones, and then try
to lead into the big one and try to slip it in by me without my
knowing it. But I always clamp down on it and say, "Look, I'm sorry, I can't
[TG] When you first started to work on Twin Peaks, what kind of
overall description and what kind of character description did David
Lynch give you?
[RW] Well you know, when I first came in on Twin Peaks it was
originally for the role of Sheriff Truman. [Oh..., says TG, somewhat
surprised] [And] David and Mark were seeing me for that role. And
then we talked for about -- our first meeting we talked for about
twenty or twenty-five minutes, about just life in general and the
first cars that we owned -- I think David's was a Volkswagon, and mine
was a little 1960 Alpha Romeo convertible that was in pretty good
shape, and anyway, we talked about our cars and a couple of people that we
had in common, and that was the extent of the interview.
They called me back a few days later, and my agent said "Ray, you
know, they're interested in you for the part of Leland Palmer".
And I said "Wait a minute, Leland Palmer? Who's he?" So I opened up
the script and I quickly rifled through the pages, and "Ah, yes,
there's Leland Palmer right here... ah ha... he hears that his
daughter's been murdered... ok... he cries here... dit, dit, dit,
dit... ah, he goes to the hospital to identify his daughter's body and
he breaks down and cries here..." and I thought "Oh my, this guy... is
spending a lot of time crying! He's a lot of time with grief". And
that was my introduction to Leland Palmer, I had to quickly look him
up in the script.
And then several days later we were all chosen for our various parts,
and we flew up to Seattle about a week later to begin the pilot, and I
thought Leland was a pretty normal, straight-forward, simple kind of a
guy, who was a pretty good lawyer in town, reasonably intelligent,
reasonably articulate, who was well liked, and unfortunately had a
young daughter who was murdered. That's what I thought he was in the
I'm going to take a break and post this first part. I'm not
transcribing this as fast as I thought I could. Let me know if
anyone's interested in seeing more.
Atlantic Community College
Mays Landing, NJ 08330