Twin Peaks Usenet Archive
Subject: Leland Speaks! The rest of the Fresh Air talk
From: email@example.com (Steve Carol)
Date: 1990-12-18, 18:28
Leland Speaks (Part II)
Herewith, the remainder of the Fresh Air interview (NPR) with Ray
Wise from 12/12.
[Terry Gross, after a break] ...he played the role of Leland
Palmer, and of course it was Leland Palmer who killed Laura
Palmer, but Leland was inhabited by the evil spirit of Bob at the
time. Who came up with that Leland Palmer dance and the weird
[Ray Wise] Well, the dance, the actual dance that you saw is
mine, it's my creation.
[TG] Oh great, why don't you describe the dance for our listeners
who hadn't been following.
[RW] The Leland Shuffle? [they both laugh] Well, through his
grief, has become oh just terribly, terribly sad, just moping
around in corners and he can't seem to be able to deal with the
thought that his daughter is gone, that she was murdered
violently. And he sort of regresses back to a time in his past
when he used to listen to big band music on the record player that
his father introduced him to, and he loved that big band music so,
and so he would play these songs from that era, the big band music
and they would soothe his spirit, calm him down, and make him feel
a little better.
And when he played these songs he would naturally, kind of, do the
dance of the time, which was a kind of a modified jitterbug, and
he would vary it with some slower steps. And if people were
watching very closely they would have seen that the imaginary
partner that Leland was dancing with varied in height from time to
time, and that sometimes that person would get very small -- and
that was little Laura when she was a little girl, and I, and
Leland taught her how to dance and she would stand on his feet and
he would take the steps for her.
And so all of these things were going through Leland's mind at the
time -- the soothing music, dancing with his daughter, and then it
would become too much for him and he would start to cry, and to
wail, and to sort of hold his head in his hands, and that was the
beginning of the Leland Shuffle -- doing that modified jitterbug
holding your head in your hands and wailing and crying. And
dancing with no one, there's nobody there, just dancing with
[TG] You know, I'm thinking in Twin Peaks a lot of the actors
were either considered washed up, like Richard Bemer, and Peggy
Lipton hadn't hadn't been on anything for a long time...
[RW] Well, you know we don't like to say "washed up", just "out
of the public eye"...
[TG] Yeah, thanks [a chuckle from both], and a lot of the actors
weren't very well known to the public at all, so there's an
interesting mix of people...
[RW] A great mix...
[TG] Yeah, I'm wondering if there was a great esprit de corps
because of that. I could see a lot of actors having a special
investment in this, 'cause it was a chance to be before the public
in a way that they either hadn't been in a long time, or hadn't
ever been before...
[RW] Well you know, you're saying it better than I could say it.
That is, it's absolutely true. Some of those people, in fact most
of them, Richard Bemer, Russ Tamblyn, they're joys to work with
and I love them all dearly, and Piper Laurie, and just all the way
down the line the various personalities from different ethnic
backgrounds, and we were all thrown together, chosen by David and
Mark, who in their great wisdom picked a group of people they new
instinctively would get along. And we did.
[TG] In a lot of ways Twin Peaks was this weird version of a soap
opera. Now you did a real afternoon soap opera for about six
years, Love of Life.
[RW] Yes I did, uh huh.
[TG] Describe the character you played.
[RW] On Love of Life? Oh yeah, I played a guy named Jamie
Rollins, and when I started on that show in 1970 he was a college
student, he was a kind of a pseudo-hippie-radical type who started
riots on campus, and in one episode I remember I caused the
President of the University to have a heart attack. So that's the
way he started, and then six years later he was a lawyer in the
District Attorney's office. Now you tell me [she laughs] how
that could possibly happen, but it did.
[TG] Social realism...
[RW] Yes... and in that six and a half years' time I was a cub
reporter on the newspaper, and I had Marsha Mason there for a
while as a girlfriend on the show, and I was almost poisoned by
Christopher Reeve who later turned out to be Superman, he played
character named Ben; and I was a garage mechanic, then a law
clerk, and I worked for a judge for a while, and just a million
things happened. In the meantime my wife ran off with my child,
and my little child fell through the ice and died, and I had an
affair with one of my good friends' wives, and she became pregnant
with our illegitimate child, and just a whole slew of things... my
best friend died of a rare blood disease...I mean, I can't even
tell you all the stuff that happened, but it did, it was a lot of
[TG] You obviously have a nice sense of irony. Was it hard for
you to take the role or the show seriously?
[RW] Love of Life? Oh yeah, sure it was [he laughs] yeah it was
very hard to take it seriously. But we tried to do the best we
could. And it was a great job, I mean, you learn how to act in
front of a camera and you do it on a daily basis, and you make a
pretty good wage, which is always a desirable thing.
[TG] In your film career you've worked with some interesting,
very quirky directors. Ok, there's David Lynch from Twin Peaks,
Paul Shrader [sp?] directed you in the remake of Cat People, Wes
Craven in Swamp Thing. Do you like quirky movies like that?
[RW] Well yeah I do. As a matter of fact I do. I enjoy watching
them and I certainly enjoy doing them, being in them. And I think
that because I like to do movies like that, that they sort of
gravitate toward me. These parts become available to me because I
want them to be available to me and I end up doing them. Yeah,
that's the kind of thing I like, and it is true that they seem to
suit me I think.
[TG] You're interested in horror? It says in your bio that you
have the original 1897 edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula.
[RW] Yeah. I'm steeped in it, yeah.
[TG] How'd you get started?
[RW] Oh I don't know, I suppose it might have something to do
with my Rumanian heritage. I'm half Rumanian on my mother's side
-- no I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with that because
we've been here in this country for many, many years. But I do
enjoy those legends of Count Dracula - Vladim Paylor [sp?] you
know, early on in the 14th, 15th century, and the whole vampire
mystique, and I just love to be scared. I love to lie in bed late
at night under the covers and have that book in front of me and
shiver a bit when I read passages, certain passages. And it feels
good, it feels -- to be on the edge, you know, of that kind of
danger, literary danger, that isn't life threatening -- it feels
pretty good and I enjoy that feeling.
[TG] now that your character of Leland Palmer is dead, is there
any chance that you're going to be coming back as an apparition or
in a flashback?
[RW] Well from your words up to God's ears [she laughs hard, he
chuckles] I don't know... I suppose that that's always possible,
it would be interesting and I'm sure that some thought about that
has been bandied about. They don't miss a trick up there in the
Twin Peaks office.
[TG] You're at NPR's Los Angeles bureau now, I'm in Philadelphia,
we're not really looking at each other. I mean we can't see each
other, so I need to know: is your hair really dark, or is it
[RW] Well, oh, you mean my real hair. My real hair is dark, dark
brown, and they had to make my hair white through a terrible
chemical process that I don't think anybody should have to endure,
but I did for several months. They had to use major chemicals and
large amounts of them to make my hair as white as it looked on the
screen. And right now I'm only half and half...
[TG] It's only half grown out?
[RW] Yeah, I'm very Madonna-ish, I guess. Very very dark roots
that are about an inch long, and then about an inch of white hair
on top of that and it looks, everybody tells me that it looks
quite good, but I can't imagine that. I'm just giving my hair a
breather. I'm letting it rest a little bit and I promised my wife
that I'm going to get it cut within the next couple of weeks.
[TG] Well I want to thank you a lot for talking with us, it's
been a lot of fun to meet Ray Wise.
[RW] Yeah, it's great talking to you. A lot of people, they've
seen a lot of Leland but not a lot of Ray and it's nice to talk to
[TG] Actor Ray Wise.
[some cool, smoky Twin Peaks music starts, and fades slowly...]
Thanks to those on the net who sent the nice encouraging notes,
prompting this second posting. I apologize for not responding
individually, but this being my first week on the net I have
yet to become competent on some basics, like replying to email!
Nevertheless, my priorities are clear. I know how to keep up
on ALT.TV.TWIN-PEAKS. I'd say all else takes a back seat.