#TwinPeaks: How Michael Horse Learned to Embrace David Lynch’s Mysterious World
The actor best known as Deputy Hawk tells THR why he initially had “mixed feelings” about the revival and the show’s unique legacy.
Six hours into the new Twin Peaks, there’s still no clear indication of why Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is now inhabiting the life of a doppelgänger named Dougie Jones. There’s no telling what that ethereal purple ocean was all about. We still don’t know why William Hastings (Matthew Lillard) can’t remember murdering his lover. Really, we’re no closer to comprehending virtually any of the mysterious happenings the David Lynch and Mark Frost series has lobbed in the air thus far — but at least one question can be answered definitively: it’s not about the bunny.
Or is it about the bunny?
Don’t ask Michael Horse, the actor who plays Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill, one of several familiar faces from the original Twin Peaks who returned for the Showtime revival.
“I don’t have any idea,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter with a big laugh, recalling the fourth episode’s scene in which Hawk openly wonders whether a chocolate bunny is the key to unraveling the show’s mysteries. “When we shot that, I thought, ‘No way. They’re going to cut this out.’ Well, they didn’t!”
Bunnies aside, Deputy Hawk stands right at the center of the Twin Peaks puzzle, tasked with tracking down Dale Cooper more than two decades after the soulful agent went missing. Hawk receives his marching orders from the Log Lady, played by the late Catherine E. Coulson, who offers only the most enigmatic of clues: “It has something to do with your heritage.”
Hawk followed that thread to a bathroom stall in the sixth hour of the series, discovering a cache of letters hidden behind a restroom door that was marked with an image from his heritage. What’s contained in the letters, and where will the information lead Hawk next in the Cooper investigation? It’s impossible to say at this stage, but at the very least, it’s leading to more for Hawk. “I’ve got some stuff coming up that’s going to be pretty cool,” says Horse.
Here’s what else the actor tells THR about the new Twin Peaks, why he was initially reluctant about returning to this world, working with David Lynch, the key to understanding the show’s mysteries, and more.
What’s your approach to Twin Peaks? As Hawk, you’re playing someone who is very plugged into the mysteries of the show and the world it inhabits. What’s your entry point into the series?
You know, it’s so interesting. People used to ask me if it’s going to come back. Part of me hoped it wasn’t. It’s kind of like James Dean died and left a legend out there. I had mixed feelings. There are so many wonderful shows out there now that are so outside of the box — some of the greatest TV that I have ever seen. I thought maybe it won’t be a big deal anymore. And then I came back, and two days into it, I went, “Oh, I forgot. There’s nobody like David. There’s just nobody like him.” I had kind of forgot. Everything that’s out there that I like — American Gods and Taboo and Fargo — they all have Twin Peaks’ DNA all over 'em. You know, I’ve known David for a long time. Both of us were painters, before I even got in the business [as an actor]. I’m an artist. You don’t get that many opportunities in television to do art and that’s what David does, you know.
A lot of people will say about the show, “I don’t get it and I don’t understand it.” And I tell them it’s like a dream. A lot of indigenous cultures, we believe that the dream world is just as real as the physical world. And a lot of Twin Peaks is like a dream. Sometimes when you’re dreaming, it doesn’t move at the same pace as the real world. Sometimes when you wake up, you go, “What does that mean?” Watching Twin Peaks sometimes is liking watching somebody else’s dream. It can be very uncomfortable. But it’s extremely fascinating. A lot of answers to questions are revealed to us in the dream world. I think that’s what Twin Peaks does.
How does that apply to the making of this series? For example, cast members only received portions of the script that involved their characters. Did it ever feel like you were participating in a waking dream, while working on Twin Peaks?
It’s like being in one of David’s paintings. It’s like being in a living painting. There’s still parts of it that I don’t get. The Hawk gets all of it. Hawk understands all of it. I wish I was as intuitive as that character. And [series co-creator Mark Frost] understands it. Mark is very in tune to my culture. We’ve had long discussions about what native people believe, especially up in that area. We believe in the power of nature. There are sacred holy places up in that area.
After the first new episodes aired, some fans online pointed out a moment from the show’s original run, where Cooper tells Hawk, “If I ever get lost, I hope you’re the man they send to find me.” It’s pretty amazing that this exact scenario is playing out on the show now.
I hadn’t watched the [original series] in years, and I sat and watched it with my wife. There’s things I didn’t remember. This whole thing about when Cooper told Hawk, “I hope it’s you.” I had forgotten all about that, but it makes sense to me. The Hawk is kind of the rock of this whole thing. The Hawk is the one person that really got his feet in both worlds.
What does a scene like that say about how David and Mark write this series? Do you think they intentionally planted these seeds all the way back in the original show, or do you think their approach is more that they look back and see what was planted, intentionally or otherwise, and they go in the direction of where that’s grown?
Well, I can’t speak for them. I really can’t. And I’m not being coy. I don’t know what those two discuss. But I think so. I was having a discussion with a friend of mine — a very, very clever friend of mine — who would say, “Look, Michael, I don’t understand this [show].” And I said that there’s so much going on there. There’s so much. If it was anybody else other than David, I might go, well, they’re just sticking things in here. But everything, everything, makes sense in David’s world. I said sometimes you have to meet him. You have to know David to understand what he does.
How exciting was it when you realized Hawk would be such a central character in the revival? So far, most of the action in Twin Peaks proper threads through Hawk.
I was thrilled to death. You know, everybody kept asking me when it was going to come back if I was going to be in it, and nobody had called me yet. Then David called me and said, “Hey buddy, we’re getting the gang back together.” He’s such a sweet guy. It’s like talking to somebody out of a '50s sitcom, you know? (Laughs.) Well, I said, “You got something for me?” He goes, “Yeah, I got something for you.” I would have been thrilled to have a cameo, pal. And so far? I mean, I got to say goodbye to the Log Lady, you know? I mean, that alone. I’m a piece of television history. I’ve done everything from Walker, Texas Ranger to Malcolm in the Middle, but something like Twin Peaks doesn’t come around often. And it was a really, really good native character. It held some mirrors up to some stereotypes about native people and did away with some of them, so I’m really proud of it.
One of the strongest elements of the series so far is things feeling familiar but different at the same time. Take Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), for instance, who is so memorable as a rebellious teen, and now works as a member of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department. Was there a similar sense on set, this combination of old and new ideas?
You know, I hate to be corny, but it was like we never left. And the new people were so excited, like [Robert Forster, who plays Frank Truman]. Getting a chance to work with a legend? He’s the real deal. Everything you’ve seen in every movie, he’s that guy. He was so sweet. He kind of went, “Hey, Michael, I don’t get this.” And I would go, “I was in it, and I don’t get it either!” (Laughs.) He had so much fun. You know he was having a ball just doing it, once he settled into it. But I’ve got some stuff coming up that’s going to be pretty cool too. You know, I’m just pleased to be in it as much as I have been. I would’ve been pleased with a cameo. They were very generous and very, very kind.