Everett McGill stands at the back of Oak Creek Espresso wearing all black with a haircut that wouldn’t be out of place on a 20-year-old Dolce and Gabbana model. We both raise an eyebrow at what’s happening at the community table next to us. A dozen or so elderly musicians are playing This Land is Your Land. On ukuleles. No one seems to know why they are there. “This is truly a Twin Peaks moment,” Everett says. “David [Lynch] would appreciate it.”
What follows is the transcript of our conversation with the Sedona resident and actor who reprised his role as Big Ed Hurley for the current season of Twin Peaks, which airs on Showtime Sundays at 9 p.m.
Sedona Monthly: What was it like revisiting the character of Big Ed Hurley 26 years later? Was it difficult to reprise the role, or did it feel as if you’d never left?
I suppose that I anticipated something kind of jarring – maybe alarming – but it wasn’t. It was like seeing [co-creator] David [Lynch]. He and I would be apart for many years – 6 or 7 years at a time – but when we got back together, it was like continuing a conversation we had yesterday. That’s what it was. It was smooth, sweet. With the exception of [the actors] who had died, I kind of thought everyone would be deaf, dumb and blind – 25 years is a long time. I can’t think of any other series to have done that. Anyhow, everybody looked good, stayed in shape. There was a lot of energy. There was no sickness or illness with the exception of [co-creator] Mark’s [Frost] dad, Warren [Frost], who [played the character of Dr. Will Hayward and] had dementia. He had to coaxed a bit. I was good friends with Jack Nance [who played Pete Martell], and I missed him. But it was really smooth.
Had you kept in contact with any of the other actors from the show?
No. Actors are kind of strange. They are so self-absorbed. Usually if you stay in touch, it’s competitive. ‘I’m working and you’re not.’ Or, ‘Did you see my last movie and can you tell me how great I was in it?’ Occasionally Kyle [MacLachlan] and I would talk, but I never spoke with David. That was the case going back to Dune. David and I have a unique relationship. I also think we’re related on my grandmother’s side going back to Lynchburg, Virginia. When we were filming Dune, we were in Mexico together for about 9 months, and that was an international cast, and there was a language [barrier]. David and I both have an Irish-frontier background, so there was an ease of communication, and we hung out together a lot. It was a difficult shooting situation – a lot of obstacles and corruption. And there was stress because of it, so when we would talk, it would be about crafts or something fun. We had really bonded – we were probably the closest of any of the cast. But after we were done filming, we said goodbye and that was it.
But you obviously had a connection for him to approach you six years later about Twin Peaks. Were you surprised when he reached out to you again?
Not really. It was similar when he contacted me about the revival. When we talked, he never mentioned Twin Peaks once. I didn’t ask why he was calling. When he contacted me about Big Ed, he said he was going to do a television pilot, and he had a character in mind that I might be interested in, Big Ed Hurley. Well, all the time we were filming Dune, he called me Big E. So I like to think that he wrote the part for me, but he said, ‘I’m not really saying’ [laughs].
What did he say to you when he called a few years ago about the revival?
All he said was, ‘Is this the best number for you?’ And I said, ‘Not really, man. You’ve reached my mother-in-law’s house, which has been sitting empty for 8 years. The phone hasn’t rang, from what I can recall, while I’ve been sitting here in 8 years.’ When he couldn’t find me, he sent out a tweet. The casting director spent a year trying to find me, and she couldn’t. So Mark [Frost] suggested David send out a tweet. An anonymous tweet came back with that number. I told [David], the chances of me picking up the phone when you called was one in a million.
It was a Twin Peaks moment.
That’s it [laughs]. And I’ll never forget what he said: ‘Is there a chance you’ve got a better contact number?’ That’s all he said. The next thing I get is a phone call from the casting director saying they were going to send me some secret stuff. That’s how it happened. When I got the secret stuff, it had the name Santa Rosa all over it. When I got to dig a little deeper into it, I realized it was Twin Peaks. But we had to sign nondisclosures and all of that stuff.