As Nadine Hurley on the classic series Twin Peaks, Wendy Robie not only had the opportunity to portray an iconic character, she also had the unique opportunity to explore life in the bizarre and fascinating world of David Lynch. In this exclusive interview for Chicago Literati, Wendy Robie opens up about the trials and tribulations that took place during the filming of the series and how Twin Peaks changed the landscape of television forever.
Can you talk about landing the role on this show and a bit about the interview process? Did you do anything unique to show you would be perfect for the role?
I was cast in Seattle near where the pilot was shot, and I was called in to read for another role (Ben Horne’s wife). I remember the scene they put on tape called for me to be upset about my son. When I met Mark and David at the callback, David asked me if I could play an angry person because I seemed to be a jolly, happy person. Then the casting director murmured, “Oh, yes, David, Wendy can be very angry!” I don’t remember if it was Mark or David who told me I would have an eye shot out, but I remember asking which eye. All I can tell you is that I liked these gentlemen instantly, and the whole process was fun.
What were some of the challenges you faced during filming?
No peripheral vision! No depth perception! Playing Nadine was physically challenging. I’ve always been a jock. I grew up on a ranch, riding horses, swimming, running in the mountains. And before I could make a living as an actor, I worked in health clubs teaching aerobics. But — trust me — I don’t have superhuman strength! I was constantly recovering from some sort of minor injury. It was always my own doing, but I couldn’t help myself. Imagine a demented 18 year old taking over your body, beating the crap out of it, then handing it back to you at the end of the day. Honestly? I’d never had so much fun in my life!
How did the dynamic of your character change between season one and two?
Nadine engaged with everyone so differently in season two. In season one I felt her anger was driven by her loneliness and pain, her neediness. In season two she was filled with joy, unstoppable. She was like a rambunctious puppy. From my own perspective the dynamic changed profoundly.
Nadine has incredible super-strength, how did you film these scenes? Did you do all your own stunts?
The gymnastic tricks at the cheerleading tryouts — that was a stunt person! I went into a cartwheel, she did her amazing routine, I came out of the cartwheel. Beating up Hank — that was a combination of stunt person, my own self, wonderful Chris Mulkey, very clever camera work, and break away shelves. The wrestling moves were accomplished with careful choreography, harnesses, and the courage of all concerned. Also, there was a circus school in Van Nuys where I took a few lessons. Say what you will, Nadine had skills.
After her coma, Nadine regresses and believes she’s still in high school, how did this storyline come to be?
Sorry, Abby. I haven’t a clue how this came to be. It was a wonderful thing to explore. What if one could enter a dream and make it real for a time? What if. What would we learn about ourselves or others? What would we learn about the world?
In your mind, what makes Twin Peaks such an iconic television series?
It changed the landscape. Television was one thing before Twin Peaks and another thing after Twin Peaks. The use of mood, the hypnotic power of Angelo’s music and the lingering images surrounded us. It was a fairytale, taking us from scenes of pastoral sweetness and romance to shocking violence and terrifying evil in the dark woods. There were many secrets and mysteries. One thing certain — everyone in Twin Peaks lived his or her life with extraordinary passion.