I am very thrilled and elated to welcome Ian Buchanan to the interview circle of braddstudios.com. In this neck of the woods, Ian is highly celebrated for his role as men’s fashion salesman Dick Tremayne on Twin Peaks as well as Lester Guy on On the Air. I recently chatted with Ian all about his time on Twin Peaks and we discussed his memorable role as well as “The Great Pine Weasel Riot”!
BD: Hi Ian! Thank you so much for talking with me. Just to introduce myself, I’ve been a long-time Twin Peaks fan since I watched it as a kid on ABC.
IB: How old are you now?
IB: Oh my Gosh, (laughs) your parents allowed you to watch it? That’s funny! I remember – only because I have worked with Zooey Deschanel – I also worked with her father Caleb and his wife was an actress on the show – Zooey and her sister would be on the set all the time, but I think they steered them out of there when there were buckets of blood and stuff all over the place. I remember having that conversation with Zooey like, “Oh my Gosh you were running around the set at 5 or 6 years old!” (laughs)
BD: Have you heard any of the She and Him albums?
IB: I have, I actually have performed with her before. I’m with a cabaret troop in New York called The Citizens Band with Zooey Deschanel, Zoe Kravitz, Karen Elson and Nina Persson from the Cardigans and some others. We just actually recorded our first album. I have performed with Zooey several times. I love her, she’s great.
BD: So where are you from, and how did you get into acting?
IB: I’m from Scotland, I’m from a very small town outside of Glasgow. I’m not so sure I knew I wanted to be an actor, I just wanted to be something else other than a little Scottish person. It took me a little longer than most to evolve into acting but I did get out of Scotland when I was very young.
I was a model for 10 years in New York and Tokyo and then I settled back in New York in 1980 and took acting a little more seriously. The first thing I did was I got rid of my Scottish accent, which I did very slowly and then I started work. I probably started acting in 1984.
BD: Your character Dick Tremayne came onto the show a few episodes into the second season, had you seen any episodes of Twin Peaks before you were cast?
IB: I never really have been a big television person. I knew there was a lot of buzz about it and I’d heard about it. I think I might have had a friend who was on the show, a kid who used to deliver my pizza, on Friday nights I would order pizza, I would order pizza from Domino’s and the guy that delivered the pizza ultimately played James on the show! I kind of had odd connections to the show. The only thing I had heard was the opening music which I just love and I love Angelo Badalamenti’s music.
BD: So what was your introduction into the world of Twin Peaks?
IB: Interestingly, or oddly enough I went to meet David Lynch for a commercial before I did Twin Peaks. Lara Flynn Boyle, James Marshall and I think Madchen Amick did a session campaign and David directed it and a week later I got a call asking to do Twin Peaks. That was really my introduction.
BD: How was your role as Dick Tremayne explained to you? Did you have much input into the character’s development?
IB: Ah…(laughs) I don’t know. They said they wanted to make a classic soap opera triangle with Andy and Lucy. I think they just wanted to do the classic triangle and make it really quirky. They created this very odd character, Dick Tremayne. I don’t know how it was developed. I remember the first couple of episodes, it seemed like they were specifically written for me, and it just became more and more fun. I had to wear plaid all the time, it was almost an impersonation of myself on television, which was funny. It was very bizarre, Dick Tremayne being a television version of Ian Buchanan. That was explained to me and I thought, “I will try not to think about that!” (laughs)
BD: Most of your scenes were with Kimmy Robertson and Harry Goaz. What was it like working with them?
IB: Oh I loved working with them! It was so much fun. We’re still friends, even if we are scattered. We were very close after that period. I loved it. I did most of my stuff with them and then I got to work with Heather Graham, which I think was one of the first things she ever did and I also got to work with Peggy Lipton. I loved the whole experience. A few of my other friends also came on the show, Billy Zane and David Duchovny. It was very interesting, a very interesting time for me. Quite delightful, I loved it.
BD: There was such a talented array of directors on Twin Peaks. Who all did you enjoy working with in that aspect?
IB: I liked working with Lesli Linka Glatter. I think Caleb Deschanel directed one or two, I get confused between Twin Peaks and On the Air. I liked Uli Edel who is a famous German director, he was great, a lot of fun. I can’t remember who directed the wine tasting episode, but that was very clever and a lot of fun.
BD: That is really one of my favorite scenes. Aside from the pine weasel attacking you, what did you enjoy about that scene?
IB: Well it was so ridiculous and funny but at the same time so dark, of course with the back story – I can’t remember his name (Ben Horne). His motivation and agenda was so dark and so evil, and there we were in the middle of it, kind of like Judy Garland putting on a little fashion show, I remember that line with the plethora of plaid! “Here’s Andy, with a plethora of plaid!” (laughs)
BD: What was it like working with David Lynch and Mark Frost?
IB: It was excellent! I love David. I had more of a connection with David, actually more so afterwards with On The Air. We did 9 episodes or so I guess.
BD: Aside from the wine tasting scene, do you have any other personal favorite scenes?
IB: I liked the “Miss Twin Peaks pageant” and the wind-up, I thought it was really dark and great, it was just really well done. I think it was a double episode. I’ve seen very little of the episodes, but I did get to go to Tokyo with Michael J. Anderson to promote Twin Peaks and On the Air, and I got to see a lot of it then because we’d do screenings of both shows.
BD: When I was younger I used to watch Days of Our Lives in the summers. I am admittedly not a fan these days, but what is it like reprising your role now?
IB: I’ve been there 6 months already, it’s hard to believe. It’s funny, it’s a dark character. I find him very entertaining, I’m not sure if a lot people do. It’s kind of a history of evil doings and evil going-ons in Salem, Oregon. Not Massachusetts, but it might as well be.
BD: Are you still friends with any of the cast from Twin Peaks?
IB: Who do I see from Twin Peaks? I see Miguel Ferrer out and about. I see Grace Zabriskie more than anyone else because we have many mutual friends. Nancye Ferguson and I are also very close. I do see Russ Tamblyn a lot and Ray Wise every now and then.
BD: So in the aftermath of Twin Peaks you were in another Lynch/Frost creation On the Air. What was that experience like?
IB: I loved it, I loved it from the very beginning. I loved how it was completely out of nowhere. David and Mark created something that was immediately picked up by the network. We didn’t make a pilot, we went straight to series.
It got a little complicated because Twin Peaks was winding down and On the Air was about the struggles of a live television show on a network and it began to incorporate some of the turmoil of Twin Peaks into On the Air. We were self-aware of it and we kind thought “What the hell?” and just barreled through it (laughs), but a lot of people were kind of affected by it. It was great fun. We had the best time. We had the best guest cast and the best guest directors.
BD: In hindsight, what was the whole Twin Peaks experience like for you?
IB: I would say it was definitely life-altering and also kind of mind-altering. That’s the great thing about David Lynch and I’ve had the same experience with David Fincher, they alter the way you look at things and the way you feel about things. They force you to get out of your own rhythms, even for me to go to Days of Our Lives, I bring all of that with me, what you gather along the way.
Many thanks to Ian Buchanan!!