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‘Twin Peaks’ Star on Playing the Series’ Most Mysterious Character and That ’Thrilling’ Finale

Clark Middleton reveals the secrecy behind those Charlie and Audrey scenes and how fans have reacted to his sleepy character.

Clark Middleton, "Twin Peaks"

Clark Middleton, “Twin Peaks”

Showtime

When Audrey Horne, one of the most popular “Twin Peaks” characters finally returned for the Showtime revival, fans were left with more questions than before. The scenes between Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) and a man named Charlie (Clark Middleton) were baffling, claustrophobic and antagonistic, at the very least.

In the scenes that spanned four episodes, Audrey seemed obsessed with going to the Roadhouse to find her lover named Billy, but her husband Charlie preferred to stay in and finish his paperwork, since it’s late and he’s already sleepy. The bickering usually alternated between Audrey insulting Charlie and urging him to put on his coat in order to go out to the Roadhouse.

Clark Middleton – whose credits include “Kill Bill,” “Snowpiercer,” “Fringe,” and “The Path” – spoke to IndieWire about working on “Twin Peaks” and playing one of the series’ most mysterious characters. As with most of the cast, Middleton didn’t have to go through the traditional audition process.

“I heard that they were doing a new ‘Twin Peaks’ and I had reached out to my agents about it,” he said. “I thought I would enjoy being in that world. It was the sort of world I thought I could fit in as an actor. But then out of the blue, we got this call from [casting director] Johanna Ray’s office about there being some interest. I just sent a tape of just me chatting with friends really. I think that they probably knew my work.”

Sherilyn Fenn and Clark Middleton in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

Sherilyn Fenn and Clark Middleton, “Twin Peaks”

Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

As a fan of David Lynch’s filmography, Middleton finally realized one of his dreams to work with the legendary director.

“He has that sort of gift that not a lot of directors have where he can say one thing that can just change your performance. He doesn’t say a lot, but what he says it makes it exciting to play,” Middleton said. “It’s just as you can imagine, he’s very imaginative. But he doesn’t overtalk things, but he’s folksy, he’s relaxed, he’s fun to talk to. I love talking to David and hanging out with David between setups, and it’s fun to watch him work in the room and watch him create… You don’t feel like you’re in a traditional television corporate setting where everything is running like a machine. It just feels like a bunch of friends got together cooking something up. It just has that really powerful creative vibe about it.”

This creative atmosphere was entirely Lynch’s work, and that meant he controlled most of what Middleton knew about his role – which wasn’t much.

“The dialogue is just so wonderful, what’s on the page. I had a few weeks with it, so I was able to get underneath the hood of it and do my thing. So when I showed up to shoot I was prepared,” he said. “I took what was on the page and ran with it, but as far as knowing anything else, we knew nothing. I only knew my scenes, but I had no idea how many episodes I would be in, I had no idea how I fit into the storyline. I respect that process because I’ve worked with people that work that way where it’s better to live in the question and create your own answers.”

Read More:‘Twin Peaks’ Return: Showtime Boss Says Another Season Is Unlikely, But He’s Waiting For David Lynch’s Call

Middleton also decided to abandon his usual practice of discussing character relationships with his scene partner Sherilyn Fenn, because the scenes were meant to be ambiguous. “I worked with Sam Shepard a few times in the theater,” he said. “We asked him one time, ‘What do we tell these people when they ask us what the play’s about?’ He said, ‘To talk about it is to take the piss out of it.’ If you start trying to analyze it, you’re going to ruin it for yourself. So I just worked from what I thought it meant.

“I have my theories,” he added. “I’m an actor, so I made my decisions about it, which I probably should keep to myself. I think it is completely up to what the viewer thinks it is. That’s the kind of stuff I really love because it feels to me that it creates a real conversation with an audience. It asks the audience to be an active participant.”

Continue reading for fan reactions to Charlie being sleepy and thoughts on the finale>>

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