Kyle MacLachlan

Kyle MacLachlan On 'Twin Peaks', David Lynch And Playing Special Agent Dale Cooper

Wearing this season's sharpest grey tailoring, no less

Sprung from the considerable depths of David Lynch's id, with an assist from co-creator Mark Frost, Twin Peaks, one-part detective show, one-part soap opera, was a surprise hit in the early Nineties, running for two seasons — one nearly perfect, the other hit-or-miss. Thank Showtime (and Sky in the UK) for bringing it back for a belated third, along with its unlikely protagonist, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan. MacLachlan has served as something of a muse for Lynch, having also starred in the director's adaptation of Dune (1984), a famous misfire, and Blue Velvet (1986), one of the most memorable films of the Eighties. Filling out MacLachlan's résumé: the notorious Showgirls (1995); appearances in dozens of films and television shows; a 15-year marriage; and a recent second career as the owner of a Washington-state winery, Pursued by Bear.

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I fully recognise that at 55, you're not going to look like 25. But still you have to put in a good effort. I always say it's not the zeros that are tough, it's the fives. It's not turning 40 or 50; it's 45, 55. Having hit 58, I think my sixties are going to be great, until I hit 65. [Laughs.]

Fear is a great motivator to stay in shape. A shirtless scene is a great motivator. Or naked scenes. Some people don't care. My hat is off to them. Jason Segel, I admire him. Will Ferrell — go, man! Because they look real. Look at movies from the Sixties and Seventies. When Steve McQueen takes his shirt off, he's not ripped. You're like, "Yeah, that's the real guy." I blame Arnold [Schwarzenegger].

I go where the role is. It has to fulfill certain criteria. Those criteria shift sometimes, depending on the bank account — which explains some of my choices over the years.

I didn't grow up saying, "I have to be an actor." I grew up saying, "I love this. I'm getting positive reinforcement, and I'm getting work." But my life is equally important. I'm happy to be off the grid for periods of time. Maybe I get a little anxious, again, depending on the bank account. But it doesn't define me.

When you hire david lynch, you let David Lynch do David Lynch. And you 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.

Cooper is maybe my favourite character. There is a lot in him that is similar to me: his enthusiasm for coffee, Douglas firs and doughnuts. He tries to figure out who people are before he makes a judgment about them. He's the eccentric in the middle of an even crazier world, but he's your point person. He's all you've got going in.

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What did I learn from Showgirls? I learned what not to do! My God. When the project came to me, I was like, "This is Paul Verhoeven!" I loved his early films: Soldier of Orange, Spetters, RoboCop. I read the script and thought, "this is really edgy. This is really sexual. This can shake things up a bit". And during the filming, it seemed fine. We shot some good scenes. Some of it was a little weird, like when I had to walk around the pool naked. Then I saw a screening of the movie for the first time and was like, "It's a disaster." Everyone took a huge hit; me, too. But I kind of enjoyed the experience of making it. I got to ski a lot during that time [laughs]. And I learned to see where something could go terribly, terribly wrong. I used to just look at the positive potential of a script, how it could be this [raises hand]. Now, although it's not really my nature, I also look at the opposite, the negative. It could be this, too [lowers hand almost to floor].

I've loved wine since high school, but with no understanding of what was and wasn't good. The first really good bottle I had was from David Lynch. He sent a bottle of Lynch-Bages to my hotel as a thank-you when I auditioned for Dune. I drank it and thought, this is some good wine!

By and large, I have been happy with my career. I've made a living. I've done some work that I'm proud of and some work that I'm not. And I'm still here. It's funny, I run into guys that are in my wheelhouse — similar age, been up for similar roles — and a common refrain, unless they're superstars, is, "We're still viable. We're still being hired." There's a lot of pride in that, just the resilience.

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The above is an excerpt from the June issue of Esquire, available from 25th May

Photography by David Slijper

Fashion by Eric Nicholson

Twin Peaks season three is currently on Sky Atlantic and Now TV. Previous series are available via Sky Box Sets