The Worst Thing About Shooting Twin Peaks, According To Laura Palmer's Dad

Spoiler warning for anyone who clicked this while somehow not having watched Twin Peaks' first two seasons in the past couple decades.

The life of an actor isn’t always easy. (Just ask Idris Elba.) But while most of the bigger problems in a thespian’s world are over in a relatively short amount of time, that definitely wasn’t the case for iconic genre actor Ray Wise, who played Leland Palmer on David Lynch’s classic Twin Peaks. His time was a little hairier than everyone else’s on the series, and you can read about his troubles below. (Twin Peaks spoilers are included, folks.)

Well, after Leland Palmer killed Jacques in the hospital bed, it seems that his hair turned white overnight, and I suppose it's because of the tremendous shock of what he had done - you know, the heinous act that he committed. And it took a visit to the beauty parlor here in San Fernando Valley and a major amount of chemicals to turn my dark brown hair into white hair, I remember the initial process took about 4 hours, as I recall, and it wasn't very pleasant, and then every couple of weeks I had to get my roots done, which I had never imagined I would ever have to do in my lifetime! So I had to keep my hair white for 4,5,6 months while we finished up my part of the series, and it just goes to show you, some of the things an actor'll do to play a character that he loves.”

Leland’s change in hair color really is one of the more memorable aspects of Twin Peaks, but I’d seriously thought the process was far more temporary than that. I suppose it looks “too real” to have been a wig or anything, but to think that he had to go through that for so long, it’s kind of ridiculous. I’m pretty sure CGI would be used now in some way, as there probably aren’t a lot of actors out there willing to don the shock top for months at a time. Of course, there’s nobody out there quite like Ray Wise.

Wise shared this story as part of a Reddit AMA, for which he also discussed many of his other notable projects, like Jeepers Creepers, Reaper, and other shows that don’t end in –eeper sounds. But seriously, we just want to talk about Twin Peaks, since it’ll be coming back to Showtime in 2016. We probably won’t be seeing Wise returning, given his most excellent self-induced death, but if any show can bring people back after being dead for 25 years, it’s this one.

For anyone wondering what it was like for Wise to realize that his character was the one behind the series’ central “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” mystery, he interestingly lays it all out below.

We were just about ready to shoot the reveal scene where Laura's cousin Maddie gets killed, and David and Mark Frost called myself, Sheryl Lee (who played Maddie) and Richard Beymer (who played Ben Horn) into a little meeting before we started to shoot that show. And it was in that little meeting that David said to me "Ray, it's you, it's always been you," and that's when I found out that my character, Leland Palmer, was the killer of Laura Palmer.I was momentarily shattered by it, because i didn't want to leave town. And the whole idea of being the killer of my own daughter, even fictionally on the show, didn't sit very well with me. And so I was hoping the whole time we were doing the show that it wasn't going to be me, and I could have made a great case for it to be ANYBODY in that town.

As a Cinema Blend employee, I can honestly say I’ve never had to pretend like I’m the one that murdered my own fictional daughter. Them’s the breaks, I guess. 2016 can’t get here soon enough.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.