Today’s interview guest on braddstudios.com is none other than “The New Girl” from One Eyed Jack’s, Connie Woods! After meeting Connie at the Twin Peaks reunion in Burbank it has been a pleasure getting to know her, as well as an honor today to have her as an interview guest on the site! We talked about her first steps into acting as well as her time on Twin Peaks and what all she is up to these days! Let’s meet “The New Girl”…
BD: Where did you grow up, and did you always want to be an actor?
CW: I grew up in the northern Nevada. I spent equal amounts of time between Reno (with my mom) and Lake Tahoe (with my dad). My soul still resides up there at “The Lake”…my lake. For some reason I decided at the early age of about four that I wanted to be an actress. I thought it was so glamorous and even then I was a complete poser whenever there was a camera in the room. I would watch TV and films and just knew that was what I wanted to do. However, I was also writing short plays and performing them for my family and our neighbors when I was about five or six. I loved performing, but I also loved creating the show; writing, producing and promoting it. Wearing all the hats, I guess not much as changed!
BD: Ah! I love Lake Tahoe! I actually went there to Heavenly on a ski trip last year. Any favorite outdoors activities there?
CW: Ah, Heavenly. Lucky you! I have no doubt you had a blast. You’re making me very homesick, Brad. I could be doing anything up at the lake and be perfectly happy. Inner tubing or sledding in the meadow off the side of Mt. Rose Highway in the winter, and lazy beach days in the summer. When I was younger and very anxious for winter to end and summer to start, I would lay a sheet of visqueen down on the snow outside of our house, cover it with a sleeping bag, spread my beach towel out on top of that and lay out in the sun in a bikini. Nothing like getting a head start on my tan. Sick fun laying there under the blue sky on top of the snow in February! I just loved it!
above: a mountaintop view of Lake Tahoe
BD: What was your first big acting gig and what was it like?
CW: Oh, my first acting job was really such a thrill to me! I was in Las Vegas visiting friends and my agent sent me in for an audition for the mini-series, Elvis and Me. Luckily for me they just happened to be shooting in Vegas that month. I played the part of one of Elvis’s many conquests. It was a small part, but oh, how glamorous I felt shooting that scene and then waiting with baited breath for the months to pass until it aired. I skipped my acting class that night and had my friends over for a popcorn party and a screening. I just knew there wasn’t even the slightest chance my scene could be cut, but sadly for me, it was… (sigh). My big debut was nowhere to be seen. However, now I had some experience and I also had my SAG card, so I was ready to go!
BD: Were you familiar with David Lynch or Mark Frost before TP?
CW: Yes, I was familiar with both of them. Naturally I was familiar with Mark Frost because of his writing for Hill Street Blues, which of course, we all loved. Mr. Lynch blew my mind with The Elephant Man. It haunted me for months after I saw it. I completely related to John Merrick. Actually, who wouldn’t? I became obsessed with that film and read everything I could find about “The Elephant Man”. Anyone who hasn’t seen this film, really should. For Joseph “John” Merrick to be a permanent resident of my heart to this day, says a lot. So yes, I was very familiar with David Lynch’s work. Now I’m feel tempted to share a quote that Joseph Merrick would use to end his letters, but I won’t.
BD: Oh come on! I honestly can’t remember off the top of my head…
CW: It is adapted from False Greatness by Isaac Watts. It’s so beautiful, it hurts:
“Tis true my form is something odd,
But blaming me is blaming God.
Could I create myself anew,
I would not fail in pleasing you.
If I could reach from pole to pole,
Or grasp the ocean with a span,
I would be measured by the soul,
The mind’s the standard of the man.”
above: Connie Woods as “The New Girl” in Twin Peaks Episode 2
BD: So how did your career path ultimately lead to Twin Peaks?
CW: My agent sent me on an audition and told me that this was going to be “IT” TV and to give it a shot. I had met the casting people before so I was comfortable on this particular audition. After my agent told me I had gotten the job there were several fittings for those cool outfits we wore as the 52 pick-up girls at One-Eyed Jacks. It was fun and glamorous, as well as very mysterious. Once we were finally on the set that first day and night we were basically sequestered in a very funky room with the coolest wood paneling you have ever seen. There we were, all of the 52 pick-up girls in our corsets and gloves, very excited to be working. It wasn’t especially comfortable trying to sit in our costumes. Our wardrobe was made to fit like a glove while we were standing up and sucking in our stomachs. Sitting down was difficult, but I promise you, I DID NOT CARE! I was just so happy to be there working on Twin Peaks!
At some point in the afternoon after we had all gone through hair, makeup and wardrobe, they asked us all to come outside. There we were standing in a line-up out in the sun with David Lynch and several others huddled together, looking at us, talking amongst themselves. Finally, Mr. Lynch walked up to me and said “You” and then turned to the others and said “Her” and walked away. None of us knew what had just happened, but I can tell you that while we were sitting in that dark room with the wood paneling waiting to see what would happen next, I did a lot of sitting by myself (and not by choice). Looking back on it now, knowing what was going on and that they were picking one of us to play “The New Girl”, I still get butterflies in my stomach. I mean, I was personally chosen by David Lynch to play “The New Girl at One-Eyed Jack’s”! Regardless of any other work I have done, most of the people I meet ask me about working on Twin Peaks and working with David Lynch. I feel incredibly lucky to this day, and grateful.
above photos courtesy of Connie Woods
BD: What was the first day filming like?
CW: To begin with, I remember being very cold, nervous, and excited. It was late at night when we shot the scene in One-Eyed Jack’s. We were on the outskirts of Los Angeles and it was very chilly. We were in our costumes all day and we had to be careful because they were custom made and fitted to our bodies. We couldn’t put on big coats because we could possibly bend a card, or who knows what. David Lynch worked with me, gave me excellent direction and the rest of it is a blur…..I just remember the red curtains, the lights, the camera, and David Lynch………..Honestly, can you blame me? :)
BD: Who did you enjoy working with the most?
CW: Without a doubt, David Lynch and Sherilyn Fenn.
BD: Looking back on your participation in the show, what memories stick out to you?
CW: The excitement I felt each time my agent called to tell me I was working on Twin Peaks again and the feeling I had while on the set is what I always remember. However, my all-time favorite memory is the set up for my first shot, the behind-the-scenes of that scene. Being directed by David Lynch, walking through those red curtains, yes, that’s pretty much the highlight, as you can imagine. I really enjoyed meeting Sherilyn Fenn back then, as well. She was very friendly and even more beautiful in person than she is in pictures.
BD: Did you get to speak much with Richard Beymer? I lucked out and got to meet him last summer and he’s a VERY interesting guy, and I just have to recommend his novel/autobiography Impostor!!
CW: He was very nice on the set, and a great actor. He was focused and professional with such a strong presence. He was great. I am definitely going to read his book. I can’t wait!
BD: Were you a fan of the show as a viewer? If so, how did it compare to what else you watched at the time?
CW: Yes, I was definitely a fan of Twin Peaks. I loved everything about it and couldn’t wait to see more! Nothing else compared to it! It was out there, original, very intriguing and INTERESTING! Finally something different. We were all talking about it. Ha! Everyone was talking about, and here it is over 20 years later and everyone still is!!
BD: What have the recent Twin Peaks anniversary events been like for you, and who have you enjoyed reconnecting with?
CW: I’m shy by nature, so it was incredibly uncomfortable for me to even fathom being invited to a Twin Peaks anniversary. I was happy to see Sherilyn Fenn, again. I had not met Jen Lynch prior to the Twin Peaks reunion we did in Burbank, but we both knew we were going to meet at the show. A mutual friend made the introduction (online), and let me tell you, that woman is amazing! The second we met we hugged for what felt like 5 minutes. She’s funny and smart and definitely encouraged me to pursue film making. She laughed out loud when I said I was going to go to film school and told me to just make my movies, tell the stories, and don’t waste my time or money on school. She said “You know enough, learn the rest by doing”. I also felt very lucky to get to know Walter Olkewicz and James Marshall during the Burbank show. I respect them both very much. I wish I could have met them sooner.
above: photos courtesy of Connie Woods
BD: What projects are you up to now?
CW: As you know, I have a daughter so anything I ever work on takes a back seat to her aspirations and projects. Luckily for both of us, supporting her dreams makes me the happiest and is incredibly rewarding to me. That being said, I am working on a few different projects and they are all completely different from each other. I was cast in the movie Spreading Darkness and have one or two more scenes to shoot. I have been writing a short film and we will be producing that in the fall! I took up photography a few years ago and have been shooting a lot. I love macro photography, as well as photographing people with an interesting back-story and a lot of character. I’ve also shot a lot of models. Currently I am working on images for a coffee table book. I also have a small clothing line that is carried in some very cool boutiques. My daughter shot the “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me” 20th anniversary group art exhibition and interviewed a lot of the cast members at the show. I have been helping her behind the scenes as she finishes that project. Last but certainly not least, I rescue animals whenever I can. I have been trying to secure the use of some land on the outskirts of Los Angeles for an animal sanctuary. The owners are interested in my plight, however, they are concerned about making money, and I’m not so sure that would be the case with the sanctuary. If I am fortunate enough to pull this off, I will be the luckiest girl in the world!
BD: Jen does give the best hugs!! I thought my ribs were going to break when I met her! In regards to film making, would you be more into producing or directing – and how have those aspirations developed over the years?
CW: I still love acting, don’t get me wrong, but I have stories to tell, and will be directing my first short film in the fall. I’m nervous and excited to even tell you that. Ideas are like little children to me, little babies that need to be nurtured and given life. You can get up each day wanting to do something, or you can get up and take steps to make things happen. I’ve done both, actually. Getting it done may be harder, but it feels so GREAT!
BD: In regards to art, what inspires you most, or rather how do you feed your creativity?
CW: Oh, that is a great question. I have different projects going on all the time, and feel panicked because I “have so much to do”. I worry because there are only 168 hours in each week and mine feel like they are already spent. I tend to create something new in my head while working on something entirely different. With photography I am inspired by nature, and by feelings. I hope that some of my shots have a vibe to them that the viewer can feel. That matters most to me. Posers bore me and I tend to dig for the back story when shooting people. With clothing, I see or feel a fabric and can already visualize it as a dress, blouse, or swimsuit. I just see it in my mind’s eye. As for storytelling, I see every event, every situation as a movie. For example, when I went to Italy the “movie” started at the airport with my friend divulging a deep dark secret to me, that I really didn’t need to know. As we settled into our vacation, our leading men and co-stars were introduced. Of course, there were back stories, delicious plot twists, bit players, extras, and beautiful sets. The tears we cried on the flight home created the ending. When we returned six months later, it was the sequel. It happens to me that way every single day. I literally see everything as a story, always have. Every person, every living creature has a story. I find them all captivating.