A famous television actor, Ian Buchanan (b. 1957) has played an iconic part in various popular soap operas, including General Hospital (ABC, 1963-present), The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS, 1987-present) and Days of Our Lives (NBC, 1965-present). Apart from acting in different daytime soaps, Buchanan has worked as a model, and while working on a commercial for Calvin Klein, he met Lara Flynn Boyle and David Lynch, which ultimately paved the way for a new Twin Peaks-character: Richard Tremayne. Buchanan was hired to play a dubious, narcissistic character (Dick) on Twin Peaks, and later he became a hilarious part of another show by David Lynch and Mark Frost called On the Air (1992). Ian Buchanan is from Scotland, but he has come to embody American daytime television, and I had a short but lovely conversation with him about David Lynch, Twin Peaks and soap operas.
AH: How did you meet David Lynch, and how did you become a part of Twin Peaks?
IB: I initially met David Lynch on the set of a commercial he was directing for Calvin Klein ‘Obsession’. I had been cast with Lara Flynn Boyle to appear in the campaign. The following week I got a call from Johanna Ray to come in and read the role of Dick. I started shooting two weeks later.
AH: You played the role of Richard (Dick) Tremayne, and before working on Twin Peaks, you were a well-known and popular actor in different soap operas. Do you think that the introduction of Dick and the romance plot involving Lucy, Andy and Dick should be seen as a metafictional pastiche or parody of the soap genre?
IB: There was definitely an element of ‘soap-within-a-soap’ when it came to Lucy, Andy and Dick, and they provided comic relief, not just for the audience but for the other characters in town. Although it was like no other soap I had ever done!
AH: Dick definitely functioned as a sort of comic relief. Did you have any concerns when having to play Dick Tremayne? Were you worried in any way that he would be too quirky or too slapsticky?
IB: My main concern with Dick was that he was not ‘over the top’, and I had to trust the people I was working with to keep him in check. I believed Dick took everything very seriously.
AH: It is interesting that you describe Dick as a very “serious” man. Could you elaborate on that?
IB: I believe that Dick was very earnest and wanted to be accepted and had absolutely no idea of his shortcomings!
AH: After Twin Peaks you became a part of the short and somewhat under-appreciated sitcom On the Air (ABC, 1992). In that show, you played a character called Lester Guy, and Lester seemed to be related, in a way, to Dick Tremayne. They had some similar qualities at least. How would you describe it?
IB: The role of Lester Guy was definitely an extension of Dick or a past life at the least. I can see Dick developing out of watching Lester!
Frame pair: On the Air (ABC, 1992).
AH: What was your favorite episode of Twin Peaks, and do you remember any of the episode directors as particularly interesting and pleasant to work with?
IB: I have several favorite episodes. The fashion show, the wine tasting, the pine weasel and The Miss Twin Peaks competition. I loved doing them and was able to enjoy them when I finally got to see them. Working with each director was very different. I particularly liked Lesli Linka Glatter. Usually my days were scheduled in the middle of the shooting week so the rhythm and tone had been established. I never read a full script, so I was totally dependent on the director to fill in the many blanks!
AH: What role have Twin Peaks and Dick Tremayne had for your career?
IB: The role of Dick gave me the opportunity to break away from the classic male romantic lead and play a character I had only explored on stage. It was a very liberating and exciting experience.
The great success of Twin Peaks has been kept alive in so many wonderful and creative ways by the enormous fan-base around the world. New generations are discovering the show and I think it is very exciting that it will be revived, especially on cable television. I would be thrilled to be a part of it and very happy just to watch it.
AH: In a more general sense, Twin Peaks has often been described as an influential show. Would you say that Twin Peaks has had an impact on modern television drama?How would you describe Twin Peaks and its legacy? What was special about the show?
IB: I think Twin Peaks fully exposed the ‘underbelly’ of small-town American life as only David Lynch could. No character was as they seemed, and the struggle between good and evil took place on many levels and dimensions.
Twin Peaks influenced numerous series that followed such as Northern Exposure, Picket Fences, Six Feet Under, and even today with a show like American Horror Story.
A classic scene with Dick Tremayne and Lucy Moran: