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Kyle MacLachlan: I Was a ‘Pariah’ in Hollywood After ‘Dune’ Failure

MacLachlan is "forever grateful" to longtime collaborator Lynch for giving him a second chance with "Blue Velvet" after the "traumatic" time making "Dune."

DUNE, Francesca Annis, Kyle MacLachlan, 1984

Francesca Annis and Kyle MacLachlan in “Dune”

©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Kyle MacLachlan thought his career was done after “Dune.”

The 1984 sci-fi film, helmed by David Lynch, was deemed a disaster upon release when it failed to make back its budget and was excoriated by critics.

“‘Dune’ didn’t really turn out that well,” MacLachlan admitted during the Criterion Collection Closet Picks series. “In fact, after that, I kind of felt like a pariah in business. No work, no nothing.”

Lynch himself has long been vocal about his distaste for the movie, which means he certainly didn’t see Denis Villeneuve’s version. “I always say, ‘Dune’ is a huge gigantic sadness in my life,” Lynch said in 2019. “I did not have final cut on that film. Total creative control, I didn’t have it. The film is not the film I would’ve made had I had that final control. It’s a bit of a sadness.”

However, they found solace in their next project when Lynch gave MacLachlan the script for 1986’s “Blue Velvet” while filming “Dune” in Mexico City.

“I read it, and I was like ‘Wow. This is very, very intense.’ I really liked it, and I really identified with the character Jeffrey,” MacLachlan explained. “But David and I were planning to shoot it right after ‘Dune’ was released in winter of ’84 and because ‘Dune’ didn’t do so well, they postponed it, things happened, and then finally ‘Blue Velvet’ came to pass in the summer of ’85 in Wilmington, North Carolina. We had such a lovely time. It was Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini, Laura Dern, and myself.”

MacLachlan continued, “‘Blue Velvet’ was kind of a rebirth for me. As traumatic as ‘Dune’ was for [Lynch], ‘Blue Velvet’ was a whole different reality. We were in our element. And that’s the point: We did ‘Dune’ together, and he easily could have said, ‘Well that Kyle, he didn’t really help the movie and so I’m going to find someone else.’ He didn’t do that. He wanted me. And I will be forever grateful. Thanks, David.”

MacLachlan went on to collaborate with Lynch for “Twin Peaks,” among other projects. Yet his turn in “Blue Velvet” also left a lasting impact on his career choices. The “Sex and the City” actor revealed that he turned down starring in Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” before James Spader was cast in his place.

“I was going to be in this actually, but it didn’t end up happening,” MacLachlan said. “I thought Spader was great. He was wonderful and perfect. I love Steven.”

MacLachlan previously told SFGate in 2004 that he thought the “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” role was too “similar” to his turn in “Blue Velvet” and that he was “afraid of being stereotyped.” And Lynch’s lasting influence on MacLachlan’s career is something he still cherishes to this day.

“David and I, we have a long collaboration together,” MacLachlan shared. “He is a good friend, and I cherish that relationship and then count myself incredibly lucky to have worked with him so frequently. We have such a good time. It’s not work at all, it’s just playtime.”

Check out the video below to hear MacLachlan’s impersonation of Lynch’s famous voice, plus hear how Anthony Hopkins has the best impression of the “Elephant Man” director.

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