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Mary Reber: “We had no idea that this is going to be the finale of Twin Peaks”

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“The only people who knew it was the finale were the people that read the whole script. And I think that was cool because as each part showed every week, I was like, “Is this going to be it?”, but then equally, “What are they going to show?” Everything was just so interesting from week to week. And so, then 15 goes by, 16 goes by and 17 goes by and then, “Whoa! This is going to be the finale!” Mary Reber the owner of ‘Palmer House’ and actress of Twin Peaks talks about the story of the final scenes and the days of filming in her house.

 Mary Reber (Photo credit: Miklós Pintér)

“There used to be a big tree over there in corner, right?”

How do you remember the day when someone knocked on your door, and said, “Ok, Mary, we would like to film something here?”

We bought this house in 2014, and we were out somewhere and we came back and there was a little note on the door, like on the ground, saying they wanted to film something here. And from start to finish, everything was a mystery. Nobody knew who was going to be in it, what it was going to entail or anything, and that’s what kind of made it so interesting. And when the location guy came here, he didn’t even say what it was. We just kind of knew what it would be because we had heard rumblings about it. He just said, “Yeah, we’d like to film here. There’s going to be a director from California coming up.” And I thought, there’s no way that it’s Twin Peaks, that it would be David Lynch because I figured he would just send somebody to check out Twede’s here, or Roadhouse, places like that. And, sure enough, on January 1st, of all days, 2015, he was getting out of his car and he was with Sabrina [executive producer]. As soon as he came into the house he said, “They don’t make them like this anymore!”, and he remembered from 26 years ago that in the corner over there, was a big tree. He goes, “There used to be a big tree over there in corner, right?” I said, “Yeah!” And so they ended up bringing up a big old dead tree, because he’s really detailed. Extremely detailed.

What was David Lynch like?

Very kind. But you could tell that he’s working at the same time. You could just almost kind of hear his wheels turning but he’s just a really, really sharp guy. The stuff that he remembers from way back then but, I mean, he’ll equally look at you and answer your questions when you’re talking to him but you can tell, at the same time, as he’s looking around and thinking. So, yeah, an interesting guy. Everybody was so nice. Even though that many crew people were running around – there were always like 30-40-50 people in here at a time for a scene – everybody was so nice. As long as you provide doughnuts and coffee and stuff…

That’s a cool thing considering how much pressure the crew must have been under. Everyone around the world was anxious to see how the story was going to continue after 25 years. Do you remember the day when David Lynch said, “Ok, Mary, how about playing Alice in one of our scenes?”

See, no! He didn’t…There were no names thrown out at all. I was in the kitchen one day and everybody was just doing their own thing, everybody knew what they were supposed to do. David came up to me and he went, “Are you an actress?” I said, “No!” “Have you ever acted?” I said, “No.” And he went, “Would you like to do a small part in the movie?”, and I said, “Sure!” And then he said, “Just be natural.” That was the real key thing for him, to be natural. So, I mean, it was nerve-racking a little bit just thinking about it but he said, “It’s not for sure.” And if it is, you’d be getting a script and you’d go to hair and make-up, and we’ll just let you know when time comes near.”  Then, I got the script and I didn’t know who Carrie Page was till the day of filming. Which was cool for me. So later I walked into the trailer for in hair and make-up, and then all of a sudden, I saw Kyle MacLachlan in there and then Sheryl Lee was sitting there right next to me and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh! This is really going to be cool!” But the cool thing about it was that we had a chance to communicate a little bit. So I talked to Kyle MacLachlan, just for a short time. He was, you know, in character trying to study his lines and everything, and then Sheryl Lee spoke a little bit about her son but it was kind of neat because it made it a little easier for me at the scene because it was like I knew them a little bit. And what was also cool was that David Lynch treats everybody the same way. He greeted Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee and me all exactly the same way. And then he said, “Just make sure you know your lines.” His directing is so cool because he lets you be you and he lets you be natural. And then, if anything needs to be tweaked… he tweaks it. So, he let my little bit of my fear and excitement come out, and I think he probably knew it was going to.

 “Would you like to do a small part in the movie?” (Photo credit: Miklós Pintér)

“Whoa! This is going to be the finale!”

I think that worked because your performance came off real.

Yes. He also said, “You’re going to be doing this and you’re at your own house. That puts you at ease a little bit because this is your own space.”

Yeah, you’re at home.

Yeah, and I hope that’s what you may notice during our scene at the door, that this person really lives here, you know.

Amazing. Were you aware that it’s going to be one of the most important scenes in the series?

You know what? I didn’t know because everything is kept such a secret. We had no idea that this is going to be the finale. Not at all. As far as I was concerned, it could have been in the middle or at the beginning. The only people who knew it was the finale were the people that read the whole script. And I think that was cool because as each part showed every week, I was like, “Is this going to be it?”, but then equally, “What are they going to show?” Everything was just so interesting from week to week. And so, then 15 goes by, 16 goes by and 17 goes by and then, “Whoa! This is going to be the finale!” But I didn’t know it was the last five minutes either. You don’t know that, and I think that’s cool. I think the way he does that is really cool. I wouldn’t want to know everything!

What was watching it like in the end?

Ah, man! It was nerve-racking because, you know, that it’s going to be on TV, and it wasn’t on the cutting room floor, so I was thinking, “That’s a good sign!” But I think I was nervous leading up to it because just driving on that road reminded me of ‘Lost Highway’. It’s just a long drive up from Odessa to Twin Peaks. And it’s funny because they make it look like the Palmer House is right near Twede’s and it’s not. You know that just from the trip. I thought it was pretty cool. And it was neat because I love all the actors. I could not have asked for two more favourite actors to be here, so that was cool.

Were you aware that you’d be a part of (one) the most important scenes in the history of television series?

I think it’s interesting how the Palmer House was in the pilot. The Palmer House was in the finale. The Palmer House itself, I believe, is a character. It feels like a character. Doesn’t it?

Yes!

I was almost maybe even more excited about just being a part of that because I had so much excitement…There was so much excitement watching them film, watching professionals do each of their jobs whether it was painting the bushes outside to make it look dead or little detailed stuff like that. I just had so much fun doing that. I almost didn’t even have a chance to think about the scene. And then we do the scene, it was just really fun. It only took two takes. It didn’t go on and on and on! People tell me, but I don’t think I realize how significant this is. I like hearing feedback from other people. I think that’s more exciting to me than to think, “Wow! That was the last scene.”

How was working with Kyle MacLachlan?

Kyle? Oh Gosh! The nicest. When they were filming, there were 200-250 people out there. So, he went out and started talking to the people. Yeah, it was really cool. He was talking about the Seahawks, talking about coffee, like typical things Cooper would talk about.

One of my friends did an interview with Kyle MacLachlan in London.

Oh, cool! He gives good interviews.

Kyle mentioned, that “David Lynch, the instructional David Lynch, is totally different from any other director.” Because he’s very detailed. What kind of instructions did he give you other than what you’ve mentioned?

Mine were very small in comparison to all the parts Kyle played, and he’s worked with other directors. I’ve never done this with any other director. I think what I was most impressed with is that he definitely knows what he’s looking for and he lets you feel your own feelings and it’s raw. It’s more of a raw thing. You know just, “Ok, go to the door.” You knew what you’re supposed to say. We practised outside. The only thing he told me to do was that, “There needs to be halting in between conversation.” So, if Cooper was saying something, I’d have to wait 8-10 seconds to say something. I think that builds anxiety and you’re also able to stare the person or study them. That’s all he said. Sheryl and Kyle are really seasoned actors. I think there wasn’t a whole lot of instruction before that scene. He just let me deliver it and that was that.

Your faces, I mean Kyle’s, Sheryl’s and your face were alone amazing. Very expressive.

Oh, yeah! I think they know how to draw it out of somebody new. They knew I was new. We practised it once. She said, “You’re doing a good job.” He said, “You’re doing a great job.” And that put me at ease. And I think her part was almost the hardest. Because she had to stand there without saying anything. She had to look puzzled. I think anytime you act, and you don’t say anything you really need those facial expressions and you need someone seasoned to be able to do those. And I felt like she really did really well. One more thing Lynch did tell was to look at her once in a while because I was looking at Kyle more. “Make sure you acknowledge Sheryl standing at the door”, he said. So, I added the typical girl thing to it when you look them up and down rather than look in their eyes.

“Thanks for opening the door!”

Were there any difficulties while the filming was going on?

No, I mean we even got to stay here.  We could have gone somewhere, but we got to stay here. Equally, I just loved them coming here. They made sure everything looked good when they left. It was just really interesting. It was watching them plan ahead for the next scene. Interact with each other. Everyone got along. I don’t know, I just thought it was a really cool experience. And I think there are Emmy nominations for the set people. They were cool. It was really fun to watch them and the set in there for a couple of days before they filmed. You could just kind of walk in there and kind of pretend. “Hey, this is cool. This is going to be on TV.” It was cool having our TV in it, too. I don’t know that was like a last minute thing. I don’t know what he was thinking. I don’t know the rhyme and the reason but they just said, “Can we use your TV and put in front of the beautiful fireplace in the living-room?” And then sure enough, they used the TV set.

You got to meet Grace Zabriskie, too.

Yes. I was just waiting for her to come, and finally she came to do her scenes. I can’t believe much terror is inside of one person because she walked by me and she’s at least a foot shorter than I am and she was in character and she walked out the backdoor to have a smoke with David Lynch, and boy, I’m telling you. You could just feel it. She is such a good actress that she didn’t even have to say anything, and I was like, “Wow! That was cool!” And I am kind of a geek and I’m just as excited to meet people as the next person. I saw Kyle at a wine tasting thing at the Salish Lodge last week. He took his phone out and did a little selfie with us and then, he had my bottle of wine and he goes, “What do you want me to say on it?”, and I said, “Be creative! Just say whatever you want to say!” And he wrote, “To Mary, Thanks for opening the door!” I thought that was cute. And you know what, he is like that with everybody he meets. There were 50 people there and maybe 8-10 were his family. Every single person who walked through that line, bought their wine, had him sign it and had a picture taken with him. He greeted each person individually and very kindly and made each person feel like they were the only one in the room. I have to honestly say that he really is a very, very nice man.

How was the meeting with Sheryl Lee?

She was here too, just a sweet spirit. Sweet spirit. I took her upstairs to see her room. I said, “Do you want to go up and see your room?” She kind of went, “Ok.” She was walking behind me and I said something to her and I could hear that Laura Palmer voice behind me and I’m like, “Whoa!” I said, “How do you like all this?” And she goes, “I just really feel disoriented.” Just with that voice. Whoa! That was so cool.

I can imagine. Ok, so I checked the last scene before the interview and when Cooper knocks on the door…

…seven times. Yeah, and now there’s a little nail that sticks out of the door that I can see that I should pull out of there but it’s part of the scene now, so I have to leave it in. I should sell it on eBay.

 The Palmer House, Mary’s home (Photo credit: Miklós Pintér)

So Cooper’s first question is, “Is Sarah Palmer here?” Do people come up to you and ask you if Sarah Palmer is here?

No, but what they do is they’ll want me to open the door for them and look at them. Like I did when Cooper was at the door. It’s kind of cute. There’s a lot of cosplay. People come here and sit on the couch and do the cosplay like Bob is in there. Or there were two guys who came here last week and they grabbed each others’ hands outside like they were Cooper and Laura walking up the stairs. I just sat on the stairs here with the door shut watching them. I’m watching people do all these weird things outside so it’s really fun. That’s another exciting thing. Makes entertainment for me too.

How much has your life changed since you had a chance to play a part in Twin Peaks?

You know what, I think I didn’t realize that the ‘Twin Peaks’ fandom was as intense as this, but I don’t know, for me, I can make my life just go on. I’ve got family, I’ve got grandkids. I mean you’ve got people driving by, you’ve got people walking to the door, you’ve got people taking pictures of your home and I think that’s cool but I don’t think it has changed me at all and I think that’s the neat thing about being the “Average Joe” that just got to be lucky enough to get offered a scene. I still carry on with my life. I don’t have the life of an actor or actress and I get a kick out of people. Everybody who’s been here because you get to meet really, really cool people and what other opportunity do you get to meet all of these people in just a normal everyday life? And people from other countries, people who are skilled in art, whether it be photography, drawing or anything. This is a very arty group of people. And that’s something I’m not. That for me is a really cool thing. I think for me, probably, that’s what’s changed the most. And that I’ve learned about boundaries too. You know, you can have people who throw themselves at wanting to come and see but you have to keep boundaries there too. But it’s been fun because my kids have gotten involved, we’ve done some fun stuff with it. It’s been a good experience, really. I would do it all over again. I’m not saying there is anything else because I don’t know but that would be fine with me if that’s the end. But it’s like David Lynch said, he goes, “If you read a book from a dead author, you can’t go back to that author and ask him what he meant.” So, we all have to come up with our own interpretations, and I think that’s what keeps Twin Peaks alive. Look how many theories, look at how many people are getting together and talking so they’ve created quite a big family here with that!

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