Originally a ballerina, Kimmy Robertson (b. 1954) is mostly recognized for her role as Lucy Moran on Twin Peaks. Robertson has a very distinct voice, a voice that was a central part of Lucy’s character, and which was used to great effect in animated shows like The Simpsons (Fox, 1989-present) and American Dad! (Fox/TBS, 2005-2014). Apart from that, Robertson has starred in different film and television shows, including Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), Married… with Children (Fox/FX, 1987-1997), Ellen (ABC, 1994-1998), E.R. (NBC, 1994-2009) and Marry Me (NBC, 2014-2015). I had a brief talk with Kimmy Robertson about Twin Peaks, David Lynch and the American film and television industries.
AH: I have heard you say that you wanted to be on a television show that had an actual impact, not just any television show, but a show that would change television. Do you feel that Twin Peaks actually did that, thus making your dream come true?
KR: I do think it changed TV forever. When I wished for it, I wished for a show that changed TV forever. I never specified how, and I still don’t know how. I was with Dana Ashbrook in 1988, and I said to him that I wanted to be on TV – not just any TV show, but a show that would change TV forever. Then, in January of 1989 we were both on the same show, and later, in September, Connoisseur Magazine published an article saying “Twin Peaks – The Series That Will Change TV Forever”. And it did…
Twin Peaks brought art into the mix, and when they did Northern Exposure, it was sort of a Hollywood version of Twin Peaks, and it was very successful. But the artfulness was not there. It was business. That’s the business of Hollywood. I’m not as involved with that. I sit on the fringe. My whole life has not been Hollywood, the way everything is manufactured. And I don’t think Twin Peaks could fit in there. I think Bob Iger liked it, it made his heart sing, but I think Bob Iger, the business person, couldn’t deal with it.
One of the things about it that seems obvious to me is that it shows real stuff. It seems real. What it shows in the first season, I think, is something that may seem strange, but is, in fact, very real. It just hadn’t been shown or seen on TV like that before. That was new on TV. TV has always been escapist, a medium where you look at stuff and escape your everyday life. But here was a show, suddenly, that showed you reality, albeit in a strange and uncomfortable way.
AH: Your words remind me of one scene in particular. I am thinking of the scene where Sarah Palmer starts to cry after realizing that her daughter has died. Would that scene fit your description of the show?
KR: When I saw that – we all went to The Director’s Guild and saw a screening of the pilot – I thought I was going to die of embarrassment. It was so real, unlike anything you normally see on TV. Normally TV would shy away from that, but here was a show that made you look at reality in all its brutality.
AH: Lucy is a mainstay-character, who seems to function mainly as comic relief. How would you describe Lucy and her function on the show?
KR: David had told med that “Lucy takes care of everybody,” everyone comes to her castle. She knows everybody, and she helps everyone.
Think of the scene where she describes which phone the call is coming in on. David explained it very earnestly. He said that she is very helpful, and that’s why she very carefully describes which phone Sheriff Truman has to answer. She doesn’t want him to waste time. But when you see it, you think, “Who does that?” In real life, there aren’t that many people who do that. It has to do with that goofy reality that is around us, and which is hardly ever seen on TV. The older I get, the more I see that Twin Peaks is just a slice of life.
AH: Could you describe the collaboration between you, Harry Goaz and Michael Ontkean? There seems to be a certain chemistry between you and Harry Goaz, but the interplay between Lucy and Sheriff Truman is also interesting.
KR: It was a perfect instant fit. We all grasped what was happening instantly. We knew that we were all working at the same office, and they were told that Lucy took care of everyone. For me, it was so good to have those people who were so good and not trying to steal the scene or anything.
AH: Another very interesting scene with Lucy is the famous “Tibetan rock throwing”-scene in which Dale Cooper is trying to solve a puzzle from and entry in Laura’s diary. Could you say a few words about that scene?
KR: When Kyle was about to throw the stone, David said, “Okay, Kale” – David calls him Kale – “hit the bottle now. We only have a few bottles left, so let’s not waste any.” And, then, when Kyle actually hit the bottle, and was so surprised by it, and I just spontaneously jumped.
AH: Would you say that David Lynch has introduced you to a different kind of spontaneity and a more intuitive approach to storytelling that you would usually experience in the film and television industry? And how would you say that his approach differs from the Hollywood industry that you seem to be quite critical of?
KR: Back then, when I was doing the show, I was a different age. I didn’t meditate, so I didn’t have time to ponder things in the same way. That has become very important for me since.
It’s not a protective place, Hollywood, but David Lynch and his daughter, Jen, create these universes for us to be a part of. I’m so happy that now Jen is also making television, so now there are more people who can try to make that world a better place.
AH: Twin Peaks changed during the second season, and Lucy was suddenly involved in some slapsticky and slightly sketchy story arcs. How would you describe the second season, and how did you feel about the change from season one to season two?
KR: I probably felt a little hurt because David Lynch and Mark Frost were off doing other things, taking the opportunities that were handed to them. I didn’t like what some of the directors, who came in, were doing. They didn’t get it, and they were just doing weird for the sake of weird. It didn’t mean anything.
AH: Despite the potential unevenness of the second season, Twin Peaks is recognized as a very important show, and it still has a huge fanbase. How would you describe its legacy?
KR: I think it made a new genre: The story that never ends. It created a story world that was endless, whatever that would be called. It certainly paved the way for new shows like True Detective and Breaking Bad. Nothing is new in the film industry, but TV is interesting, and Breaking Bad is good also because of Bryan Cranston. Bryan was, in fact, linked to Twin Peaks through Todd Holland, who directed episodes of Twin Peaks and virtually all of the episodes of Malcolm in the Middle. Another show like Freaks and Geeks also came directly out of Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks created a hole for shows like Freaks and Geeks to step into.
One of the central story arcs in Twin Peaks connected to Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson), displaying her function as comic relief: