The Man From Another Place in the hit series talks about the new boxed set and much much more
Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition was released on DVD on October 30, offering the most in-depth look at the critically-acclaimed series, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. One of the stars of that show was Michael J. Anderson, the diminutive actor who portrayed "The Man From Another Place." That role, and other performances like that from Lynch's Mulholland Dr. and the short-lived, but also critically-acclaimed series Carnivale have given Anderson somewhat of a cult following. I had the privilege of speaking with this actor over the phone about Twin Peaks and a whole lot more.
I was wondering how does it feel to be revisiting Twin Peaks, 17 years after it first aired? It seems this series has really stood the test of time.
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Michael J. Anderson: Well, that's just it. In a sense, Twin Peaks never really went away. They've got a Twin Peaks convention up in Washington every year, and I'm pretty much recognized on a fairly regular basis, from Twin Peaks, so I feel like it never really got too far away.
This looks like an absolutely huge boxed set. Can you tell us a little bit of what to expect from this set?
Michael J. Anderson: I just know that they've included everything. They've got the European version of the pilot. They've got the Saturday Night Live version, with Michael Myers playing me (Laughs).
Oh yeah. I remember that one. Are there any other particular features we should keep an eye out for?
Michael J. Anderson: You know, Twin Peaks is one of those Rorschach ink blot things, where everybody finds their own favorite thing. So it's hard for me to point to something and say, 'Man, this part is the greatest' when it all has its own special thing.
I've read that there were some attempts to revive the show, but creator David Lynch refused each time. Can you give us any insight into that?
Michael J. Anderson Well, I mean, I understand it. In a sense, like when we look at Mulholland Dr., it still had a Twin Peaks feeling to it. I don't mean a look, or the timing or anything, but it had a depth, a certain depth. We recognized it from Twin Peaks, it was just that now we're not in a small town, now we're in Hollywood. I think that David Lynch, he lives in a zone, and he expresses that zone to us with everything he does. To go back to do Twin Peaks is just too redundant. He's already telling us the same thing from a different angle, with all of his new works. As good as Twin Peaks was, and I mean it's a superb work that's way ahead of its time and we've never caught up and we never will... I mean, we will never catch up to Twin Peaks. Has it been 17 years?
Yeah, since it first aired, yeah.
Michael J. Anderson: (Laughs) Wow.
This started out as a mini-series, originally, then it turned into a full series and then it was canceled, all within about two years. Was the production as chaotic as it seemed to be?
Michael J. Anderson: We never were able to understand what we were doing. He (Lynch) wouldn't allow that to happen.
Michael J. Anderson: I can understand the problem that ABC had, because it wasn't a set thing that Twin Peaks meant. If you asked the question 'What does this mean?' it didn't make sense to ask that question, because you'd have to ask what did that part of the series mean to you, as an individual? So, without there being a bona fide, sanctified, 'This is the official meaning of Twin Peaks', it left the meaning in the air. They were afraid that, who knows, in 10 or 20 years down the road, they may come to a conclusion about what it means, and then do we still want to be involved with it? I could see what they were afraid of, because they didn't know what it meant and nobody could tell. (Laughs)
It seems kind of the same thing with Mulholland Dr. too, there's still controversy about that, like 'what was in the box?' and everything like that.
Michael J. Anderson: Yeah. And it's, you know, we all have a box, and what's in yours, you know?
You're absolutely right. What was your favorite memory from the set?
Michael J. Anderson: My favorite memories are... just, all of it, the doing the scenes and the parts in between the scenes. I guess in this DVD's there are a lot of intros from Catherine Coulson, who played The Log Lady, and I remember one time, we were having lunch. It was just Catherine and David Lynch and I sitting at a table. I can't remember what the conversation was, but Catherine made the remark, 'You know, I've always felt that I've had the soul of a bimbo, but that I'm trapped in the mind of a philosopher.'
(Laughs) So do you still keep in touch with anyone from the show? David Lynch?
Michael J. Anderson: Yes, every once in awhile. I've recently written a treatment for a series, and I would like to have him have a hand in directing. So, I'm maybe going to present it to him, or 'pitch' it to him, as we say out here. But, in general, I see them especially at the Twin Peaks festivals and things like that. A lot of times I'll go down to these conventions and see somebody like Sheryl Lee, and it's always fun.
Back when this was first aired, TV was ruled by sitcoms, and now it seems like TV's are ruled by the dramas. What kind of reception do you think Twin Peaks would've gotten if this would had aired today?
Michael J. Anderson: I don't think they would show it. I think they are so concerned about manipulating or controlling the image of the station, or the image of everything involved, that unless they have a 100% handle on what they're saying, they don't say it. In this controlled environment that we're in today, I don't think it would make it... even on cable.
You mentioned a pilot you're trying to develop. Can you give us any word on that?
Michael J. Anderson: No.
Michael J. Anderson: Oh wait. Yeah I can. It's really cool! (Laughs) O.K. it's science-fiction. But not just set in... O.K. here. It's a cross between Dune and The Matrix.
A cross between Dune and The Matrix?
Michael J. Anderson: Yeah.
Wow. I'm really intrigued now.
Michael J. Anderson How was that?
That's a nice little taste. So, finally, do you have any word about Carnivale making its way back to HBO?
Michael J. Anderson: Yeah, that's not gonna happen. They've auctioned off the set. You know, it's all about behind the scenes. As wonderful as that experience was, it wasn't as wonderful as making Twin Peaks.
You can find the mammoth 10-disc set, Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition on the DVD shelves now.