Merry Christmas everyone!! It has really been a wonderful year with this little blog. I’ve talked to over a dozen cast and crew members of Twin Peaks including series co-creator Mark Frost and Catherine Coulson and I’d like to finish the year off with one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, Kimmy Robertson. I first met Kimmy at the Twin Peaks Festival in 2008 and I’ve come to know her as a person who is so kind, genuine, and just all around fabulous. In this in-depth interview Kimmy and I talked about many aspects of her career as well as her time on Twin Peaks as the beloved Lucy Moran. Grab some coffee and pie and enjoy!
BD: Ok Kimmy, to start out, where are you from and what interested you growing up?
KR: I’m from Downey, California a suburb of L.A. and I was born in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. I got really into ballet about 7th grade because I watched the movie version of a ballet called Romeo and Juliet but I think that they filmed it in ’63. I was so moved and inspired by it I wanted to devote my life to ballet so I was a dancer and I ended up back in L.A. for a short period and needed money and got a job with them just as they were on their way to Israel to do a 2 month tour. I really didn’t want to go, and I had a feeling I just shouldn’t go. They said, “You can work in our office and get paid and when we get back you can start performing with us”. So I was answering phones in this office, disconnecting everybody and there was an agent – not for our company – but she shared the office space, and I would hear her laughing everyday and she’d come out and say, “do you mean to be funny?” and I would say, “no, just trying to be a good secretary”. She said, “you should really be an actor” and I said “no, I don’t like actors”; “why not?”, “I don’t know they’re just weird”. I must have met a couple of weird ones in college and just lumped them all together somehow. They were two musical theatre people and they always talked in a “cockney accent”. I was a ballet snob, a “doncer”.
above: Kimmy with The Residents backstage at a Devo show in Santa Monica
So, before the company had left for Israel I had been working in the fan club for Devo selling shirts and things, radiation proof suits, stuff like that; and they were going to do a video for “Whip It” and they needed some help, so I brought all the dancers from the company, fences, and western crap and the guy who was in charge of the videos thanked me, his name was John Thompson. He said if you ever need anything, I owe you a favor. So the lady who convinced me to be an actor begged me to take pictures and headshots. She put more makeup on my eyes than you could ever imagine and said, “you have to make up a resume”, so I wrote down everything I’d ever seen which later came back to bite me: “I wasn’t in Charlie’s Aunt!”. So she put it all together and asked me to come in at the end of this work day and she had a stack of manila envelopes, all upside down on her desk. She said “Do you know anybody in this business… maybe someone who owes you a favor?”… I kept saying “No, I don’t know anybody…OH! except for John Thompson – he said if I ever needed a favor…”. Her eyes got really big and she picked up the top envelope off the stack and showed it to me. It said,” John Thompson, C/O Cannon Films”: I was like, “wow!”. A month later she called and said, “You have an audition because of your friend John Thompson”. I went in and read for a movie and the director liked me and said, “well, you’re hired – I don’t know what for, but you’re hired!” So (laughing) I was with Devo at American Bandstand in the parking lot with my friend Robin Anton. She said, “my brother Steve has a movie”. I said, “Really? Hey! So do I”. “It’s something about Sergeants. ” And it turned into The Last American Virgin.
BD: And what was that experience like, working on your first feature?
KR: Well I went and I started working, the first day I had no idea what I was doing they said, “just hit your mark and say your line, I thought “Mark? that must be that mark on the floor” (laughing) so I did and as we talked and as we kept shooting the director would laugh and say, “ok you have to say that and we’re gonna put it here and put it there” and I never could understand why it was funny until I saw the movie. I heard my voice and thought, “Oh God”… but I really enjoyed myself because nothing bled, nothing was hurting and I was getting paid to do something so incredibly fun and rewarding, like creatively. It felt really great.
BD: So how did you get involved with Andy Kaufman and his live show?
KR: Well I was a dancer and I – honestly I think it was the same lady who was casting people and she said, “ok, we know we can use you, do you know anybody else?” and I brought another friend of mine, I auditioned and he said, “ok, you’re gonna be the head of the line”. It was really fun, we auditioned at this big theatre and he was really hysterical. After the shows he took everybody out for milk and cookies on a bunch of school buses. He was very nice to me, he said I was funny.
BD: Did you ever see Man on the Moon with Jim Carrey?
KR: I did, and he was great in it! Andy Kaufman seemed to me like a kindred sort of spirit but he was just too ahead of his time or something…genius!
BD: And revolutionary! So how did Twin Peaks come about, did you know David Lynch or Mark Frost before that?
KR: No, but I was a David Lynch fan and there was something Mark was writing on, do you remember?
BD: It was probably Hill Street Blues.
KR: Yes, that was it. By this time I had an agent who was Steve Anton’s agent. The agent sent me on an interview and I think Johanna Ray found me somewhere or saw something and asked for me to come in, and I did. I called my friend Brian and said, “you know, I get to meet David Lynch and Mark Frost”. He freaked out and I freaked out and we talked for hours about all the coincidences and things. And I watched Blue Velvet again at his house on his big giant tv. I remembered all the questions we had, and my intent for the interview was to ask them all these questions. (laughing) I wasn’t even thinking about getting a part, it seemed so out of my league that I wasn’t even worried. I asked them all kinds of stuff. I think David and Mark just wanted to meet a bunch of people and let them read stuff, because I had scripts for other characters. I think the only one who actually “read” for a part was Dana Ashbrook.
above: Kimmy with Harry Goaz, Michael Ontkean and Michael Horse in Twin Peaks
BD: Who did you enjoy working with the most on the show?
KR: Harry. Harry Goaz. And I really loved working with Ian Buchanan later in the second season, Kyle (MacLachlan) and Michael Ontkean and of course Michael Horse. Those were who I got to work with and who I admired the most because they were so amazing. So amazing! Michael Ontkean was just, I mean he had a lot of stuff to do all the time, so did Kyle and they never complained, they never screwed up. They were always in a good mood. Michael Horse always had good stories. And Jack Nance too.
BD: Do you have any good Jack Nance stories?
KR: Well, let’s see… I think my favorite story has to do with me so it’s kind of selfish. He lived with Charlotte Stewart in the valley, they were roommates with a big huge backyard. Both of them knew I had never seen Eraserhead. Jack was all (Jack’s voice) “oh you’ve got to come over, I have it at home! Let’s have a little get together and eat something and we’ll watch it, I’ll hold your hand!”. So I sat on the floor and leaned against the couch and he sat by me and held my hand. Every now and then he’d say, “this part might be a little rough” and I’d say, “tell me why” and he’d say, “Well, maybe you should just close your eyes!”. Even though he was holding my hand. I still haven’t seen all of Eraserhead, my eyes were closed.
BD: I originally saw Twin Peaks on ABC when I was nine years old and I would always close my eyes during all the scenes with BOB! It was so scarring! I really didn’t see the entire series until I was in high school because it just scared me to death.
KR: (laughs) You’re kidding!
BD: Yeah, I would really think to myself, “was it really that scary, or was it because I was a kid?”
KR: What’s so interesting is that Frank (Silva) was the nicest, sweetest, kindest person on the planet. So loving and nurturing, humble and sweet. A real artist.
BD: Did you get to see him film any of his scenes as Killer BOB?
KR: Frank? I did… let’s see. This is cob-webby. I did watch something in the Palmer set with Ray Wise, so it wouldn’t have been in Seattle but at the set in Van Nuys… and I did watch one of the scenes where he and Ray were the same person but I kept going back to the Sheriff’s Station set because it was so frightening. He had those contacts in and would be talking and open his mouth and it was frightening, just frightening. Plus the strobe lights!
BD: Did you get to see any of the red room scenes?
KR: Yes. Let’s see. We were doing the first season and right at the beginning of that they decided to write an ending for the European version. They rented a set at SIR studios and built the red room, and Little Mike was there and Kyle and Sheryl Lee. Everyone was practicing their backward talking. Jennifer Lynch was there and she was showing me the book she was writing, Laura Palmer’s diary. So I was there for all of it, because Harry Goaz and I shot the scene where he’s playing… the trumpet? Did you see that? And I was playing with the paddle ball. So that was shot the same day and it was one of my favorite days of all time so far, that and when I did a commercial with a million oranges, because Kyle was sitting in the makeup chair and I was leaning on his chair and he was practicing his words, then David Lynch would come in and say (a bunch of backward gibberish). It was very fun and cool, and kind of a bonding experience. Little Mike was so happy and in such a good mood. Sheryl was practicing and so beautiful. And Jennifer was there, one of my favorite people.
above: Kimmy as Lucy Moran with Harry Goaz as Deputy Andy Brennan in the International Twin Peaks Pilot
BD: Was it difficult to approach the characters of Lucy and Andy? They supply some comic relief amongst a lot of dark scenes, but there’s also some really heavy emotional moments between the two.
KR: David and Mark were very careful with me and I know they must have been with Harry, because we talked about it. I can’t speak for Harry but I can speak for me, and we were always serious characters and our characters were earnest and tried really hard and we never approached anything to be funny, and I think the stuff that was written to be funny was funny because we were so serious. One of my favorites was the repelling, and another was the post-it notes. A scene I had forgotten about, a guy changing the lightbulb and Lucy and Andy are talking and he decides to call Dick Tremayne to give him a piece of his mind, and I say, “you won’t hurt him will you Andy?” and he doesn’t answer and I had a really hard time with that. I had such a hard time not laughing. I’m pretty sure we had to do several extra takes because I kept cracking up and Harry never breaks, he never would be out of character when he was working.
BD: Were you a fan of the show while it aired? Charlotte (Stewart) once mentioned how the cast would get together to watch the show.
KR: I was a big fan but I have to be honest, a lot of them I didn’t get to see becuse there were heads in front of me (at the parties) and the stuff I saw I never saw my scenes. I don’t know why, but I loved the rest of the show. Especially the first season we would get together at Dana Ashbrook’s house. It was packed! People were everywhere, on the couch, on the floor, hanging off the balconies and another one was where Sheryl Lee was living in this huge, old old house in Beachwood Canyon and God, it was so cool because it was a very Twin Peaks kind of place. There were always so many interesting people because everyone brought their best friend. Except for me, everyone’s best friend was really cool.
BD: So what was it like when the Twin Peaks premiere really blew up in popularity over night?
KR: I’ve told this story a million times before, but I was living in a little cottage and I remember I moved in September 15th, 1989 because they called us and said the show was picked up. I was in my house watching the pilot (later), I went to bed and at 9:00 AM the phone rang and it was some publicist that wanted to be my publicist, and the next call was the David Letterman show. They called David Lynch who was busy, they called Kyle who was busy, and they called me, I said “I’m not busy!!” (laughs). So I was scheduled and they hung up the phone and I was screaming, running around my living room and jumping and there was a knock at the door. It was my neighbor who was a writer for TV Guide. She said, “I just heard you screaming and I put it all together, can I do an interview with you?”. Oh! There was a third call, for Hannah Barbara the cartoon, who did Yogi Bear and The Flintstones, and my absolute goal of all time to do anything was on Hannah Barbara. I couldn’t even get an audition. Tuesday morning I was at Hannah Barbara auditioning. I had tried to do voice over work and I realized I needed to get a series, if I could just get in an on camera position I knew I could get an audition with them. I don’t know why I was so obsessed. It was a pretty great day. Just pretty amazing, I mean I had never wished for a publicist but I certainly had wished for David Letterman and Hannah Barbara. I didn’t get to be on Letterman by the way until much later because Gregg Feinberg told me I had to work that day and that I couldn’t go. There was quite a few things I was scheduled to do and he would tell me later I couldn’t do it, but 20 years later in 2010 that I realized Gregg Feinberg (Twin Peaks associate producer) did not want me to be the voice of Twin Peaks. Interesting.
BD: So after the show had been cancelled and Fire Walk With Me rolled around, how did you feel?
KR: That’s a good and bad story, I was really into it, obviously. I really wanted to be in the movie and I knew they were shooting lots of stuff and it seemed like, “wow, this is going to be an 8 hour movie” and there was some money issues, like – my agents were being really weird about money and I just felt like, “well, I’m part of the show, why all of a sudden am I supposed to get 8 billion dollars when I didn’t get 8 billion dollars on the show?”, because the pay was very minimal on Twin Peaks compared to other shows like hour-long dramas and night-time soaps. So that part was really painful for me: “Why can’t I just do the movie? Do you know that David Bowie’s in the movie??”. Anyway-that bothered me if you know what I mean.
There was a lot of weird stuff that happened, Deepak was the first A.D. and he was calling me in the morning, I didn’t even know I was supposed to be at work and all of a sudden it was ten o’clock and the phone rang: “Why aren’t you here? It’s 8 A.M.” I called Harry and said, “do you know we’re supposed to be at work 2 hours ago?”, so we’re talking on our car phones (laughing) the whole way to work, two hours late and everyone’s mad at us and they have to do my hair then when I was there on the set, Brad – I think David had a hernia and I said “I’m glad you’re feeling better”. He explained in great detail what a hernia was. (laughing) David said something like, “Well the muscle goes out through the rib cage to where it’s not supposed to be and it’s not very comfortable, they fixed it right up”. I started crying, in Lucy’s cubicle, and I said, “I just feel bad that this is, like… I won’t get to come here anymore”. And David said “We’ll be back, don’t you worry”, and I thought “You know what, I hope so but I just don’t think so”. I had learned enough about television. Did I answer that question?
above: Kimmy, myself, and my brother Peyton at the 2010 Twin Peaks Festival
BD: Yes! It kind of leads me to the next question so – how did you feel about the second season once Laura Palmer’s killer had been revealed and many new characters were introduced?
KR: The mystery of Laura Palmer was the whole show… and people would always ask me, “who killed Laura Palmer? when are they ever going to reveal it??” and I’ve come to realize that people don’t like things resolved, they like things to hang from a nail from a second story in a television show and in life.. that was the whole reason why everyone kept coming back even though in the second season David was doing Wild at Heart and there were so many tangents-I remember our dressing rooms were a big trailer and you get a 3 x 6 square foot area where you can lay down while you’re waiting and I remember Catherine Coulson calling David on the phone one day saying, “Please come back! You have no idea what’s happening here! We need you”.
BD: Considering a couple of the divisive story lines in the second season, it at least ended with a huge bang, I can’t think of a better finale for any show.
KR: One day I’m going to have to watch it.
BD: You’ve never seen the last show?!
KR: I saw it once when it aired. And I remember thinking Ray Wise should be given an Emmy. I thought he was amazing throughout the series.
BD: I think the final episode is a major reason that people are still so passionate about the show. It really made a statement of, “Hey, this story can go on”.
KR: Well when I was in Canada last year I saw the last half hour of it and I had completely forgotten all the stuff with Kyle – all of that, then I remembered, “Oh my God, that’s right, it completely could have gone on” – so I agree with you. You’re right!
And that’s it!!! I want to send a huge, HUGE thanks to my friend Kimmy and a Merry Christmas to all!!!!