Exclusive Interview with Jan D’Arcy

Today I would like to share an exciting interview I conducted with Twin Peaks’ own Jan D’Arcy who we all remember as Sylvia Horne…wife to Ben and mother to Audrey!  I would like to send a heartfelt thanks to Jan for taking the time to reflect upon her time on the show and share some insight with us all.  Let’s Rock.

BD:  First off, where are you from and what led you to acting?

 JD: I’m from Munnsville, a small village of 500 people in upstate New York.  I was fortunate to have an idyllic childhood with fabulous parents, a sister and two brothers and my Irish grandmother lived next door.  My Dad was an outdoorsman and trapped for furs during the winter and was a carpenter and also worked construction during the summer.  Dad taught me to shoot guns, have a trap-line and fish.  My Mom was a school teacher while pursuing her Master’s Degree.  She studied Shakespeare and would recite the plays to me. 

 She took me to see Orson Welles in MacBeth when I was ten years old and I decided I wanted to become an actress. When I was 16, I did summer stock at the Fayetteville Playhouse with stars like Charlton Heston, David Wayne and Billie Burke – who asked my mother if she could take me to Hollywood. My mother said, “No!” and I was off to Emerson College in Boston for 2 years where I majored in public speaking and theater.

 I left Emerson and went to Catholic University in Washington, D.C. where I continued to act in college plays. Then I went to UCLA in Los Angeles for my Master’s Degree in the Oral Interpretation of Literature. The day I graduated, I moved to Hollywood and besides theater, became involved in film.  TV commercials and my substitute teaching paid my rent. I got married and had five children, always continuing my acting career. We moved from Tustin, California to Seattle, Washington where I began to do hundreds of radio and television voice-overs, documentaries and started to do more film.

BD:  How exactly did Twin Peaks come about, and what was the audition process like?

 JD:  Twin Peaks came to Seattle and I didn’t know much about David Lynch and Mark Frost.  I met David and it was more of an interview than reading a script. He told me he had big plans for the role of Sylvia and that I and my husband would own the Great Northern Lodge. He said he would see me later and I wondered if that meant I got the part. It did!  My son called that weekend from New York City and said he had met David Lynch. David was at a gallery for the opening of his art work based upon the Elephant Man. I couldn’t believe it was the same person on two different coasts but then I began to learn more about David’s multi-talents.

above: Jan as Sylvia Horne with Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey in the Twin Peaks Pilot episode

 BD:  What was it like working on the pilot for Twin Peaks in Seattle?

 JD:  It was a very rainy, cold day when I went over to Bainbridge on the ferry for the shoot. I wandered around trying to keep warm for about 6 hours before I was called to the set. David came over and sat down and we just talked about Sylvia and the scene.  I had to internalize that this young man dressed up like an Indian was my son, Johnny.  David had a vision for what he wanted to happen in a scene but he never dictated what to do. He was very respectful of the actor’s preparation. (I think he is very selective in his casting and then he lets the actors do their work.) I can remember coming on the set for the last scene and he asked what did I think Sylvia would say? I didn’t have any script and I was a bit nervous that this director wanted me to come up with my dialogue.  Some directors ask for small bits of improvisation but they usually stick to the script.

BD:  Do you remember filming any scenes that never aired on television?

 JD:  I filmed a long scene with Audrey and Dr. Jacoby where I accused Audrey of pushing Johnny downstairs, which caused his developmental problems. It was never shown. I was sent a scene for Fire Walk With Me where I have a birthday cake and Johnnie walks across it with his moccasins but we never shot it.


above: Jan and I at the 2008 Twin Peaks Festival

 BD:  Your character appears prominently early on in the Pilot and in Season 1 and then disappears until the finale.  Was there a specific reason?

 JD:  When David left the show to direct Wild at Heart, I seemed to be forgotten in Seattle. I went to the Emmy awards where we lost to L.A. Law.  I saw Mark and he said that they were bringing me back to the show.  They put me on notice for a full month but then the show began to focus more on the kids and Piper Laurie was having an affair with my husband. When David came back, he wondered where I had been and brought me back for the last show.

BD:  Aside from acting, what else keeps you busy?

JD: In my other life besides acting, I’m a strategic communications coach. That means that I help develop content and visuals for my clients and then help them enhance their delivery skills. I focus on science, engineering and bio-tech and have been very fortunate to work with executives from Microsoft, Alaska Airlines, NASA, Army Core of Engineers, IBM, and Boeing among others.

 Jan invites everyone to visit her web page at www.jdarcy.com for a video, free articles and podcasts on improving their communication skills.

You can also subscribe to her blog at www.jandarcy.blogspot.com and you’ll receive bi-weekly posts.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Categories: Interviews, Twin Peaks

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5 Comments on “Exclusive Interview with Jan D’Arcy”

  1. kim dukes
    July 29, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    that was a great interview, and you have photos to compliment your story! you need to make sure you go to the 2012 TP fest.

  2. July 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    wow. great interview.

  3. August 15, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    Hi Brad, loved your interview with Jan and your web page. I check back often. We also met in passing at he 2008 Fest. Keep up the good work! Ken

  4. September 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    GREAT interview !!!

  5. September 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    FANTASTIC interview !!!

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