Twin Peaks Usenet Archive

Subject: Leland Speaks! The rest of the Fresh Air talk
From: (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 
really gray?

[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.
Steve Carol