Q&A: ‘Twin Peaks’ co-creator Mark Frost on Showtime reboot, the cliffhanger

Writer Mark Frost in Beverly Hills in 2007.
Writer Mark Frost in Beverly Hills in 2007.
(Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)

Showtime made many fans of “Twin Peaks” very happy on Monday when it announced it was reviving the cult favorite as a limited series to air in 2016, set in the modern day.

The delightfully weird drama, which centered on a murder mystery in the small town of Twin Peaks, Wash., and starred Kyle MacLachlan as cherry pie aficionado/FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, aired for two seasons on ABC before its eventual cancellation in 1991.

The Times spoke to writer and producer Mark Frost, who co-created the series with filmmaker David Lynch, about the rebooted “Twin Peaks,” what happened to [character’s name redacted] after the series finale and the original’s enduring legacy.


People have been hoping for a revival for a long time now. How’d you finally decide to do it?

Every once in a while we’d get together and think about it. It was really about three years ago when we were at lunch at Musso & Frank. We started talking and it kinda lit a spark between us. So we sat with it and we kindled it and we fanned the flames until we knew it was taking us somewhere where we really wanted to go. And we’ve kind of been working on it ever since.

What was that initial conversation about?

It was kind of a global conversation about the world of “Twin Peaks” and the effect that it still seemed to hold for people, the attraction they felt to this place and these people and we suddenly saw a way to move forward and just ran with it.

And why do you think it still has so many fans, especially at a time when there are a lot of weird, dark, unusual shows on television?

I know. It’s to me part of the mystery of the show. Why has this show been so enduringly attractive to people? I honestly don’t know the answer. You really have to talk to all the people who feel as strongly as they do and ask them because their answers will be just as valid as mine. One of the things we did notice as we’ve been thinking about it is people seem to remember it even better than we do. It’s kind of an important thing for a lot of people in their lives. And we feel a sense of responsibility about that and we want to do everything we can to honor it.


Is there any trepidation or anxiety about the revival? It’s safe to say expectations will be high.

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that people would be hoping for a lot and we feel that there is a pressure to not just do what we did before but improve on it or top it. That’s going to be our intention every step of the way.

“Twin Peaks” aired on network TV, but there are now many outlets for television that’s more experimental and groundbreaking. Do you think the show might have lasted longer had it been introduced in such an environment?

All I can do is speculate. There are so many great, powerful shows now, I guess we’ll see how this one does when it comes back as a benchmark. We’re very flattered whenever people talk about this as a show that helped them think that maybe there was a way for them to do what they did. We were very happy to kick down that door for people if that is in fact what we did. Hopefully we’ll get to kick down the door ourselves.

There hasn’t been any information yet about casting but I’m wondering how you go about reviving without a cast set. Do you see who’s available and build the story from there? Or just proceed as if everyone from the original is willing to participate?

I don’t know if I can speak to that without giving stuff away. The main way to think about is that we’re going to write the show exactly as we see fit and hopefully we’ll find the circumstances to make it happen.

Have you written it yet?

We’re in the process right now.

What can you tell us about the narrative?

What I can tell you is there will be a very strong central storyline. And there will be lots of other places that we’ll go as well. That’s really all I can say.

As fans know, the series ended with one of the most devastating cliffhangers in TV history. Do you yourself know how that story ended, and will the new series provide any resolution in that regard?

We have very clear idea as to what happened and it’s not going to be something that will seem ambiguous when you see it.

Creatively, this is going to be different from the network series in that you and David Lynch will write all nine episodes, and he’ll direct the whole run. How do you think that will affect the series?

We just had a feeling that this was something we created together and the only way we really we could see going back to it was if we did it ourselves. We’re really excited that that’s how it turned out because I think that’s the right way to to do it. It’s going to rise or fall on our efforts, and our efforts alone and that’s how it should be judged.

How did you decide to take it to Showtime?

It was earlier this year; we had a great meeting with them. It turned out perhaps not by chance that Gary Levine, who developed the show at ABC 25 years ago, is now the executive vice president of original programming at Showtime, and that just felt right. We felt very comfortable with Gary, who is a good friend. But I’ve known David Nevins for quite a while. The two Davids really hit it off, so off we went.

Did you have to go to any extra effort to keep this under wraps?

I would guess that not even the NSA knew about this.

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