It’s hard to think of a performer who has aged more gracefully than Kyle MacLachlan. At 61, he’s still got that matinee-idol chin, full, robust head of hair, and the good-natured warmth to go along with it. Yet beneath the leading-man looks beats the heart of a considered, compelling character actor, a sensibility he’s brought to decades of beautifully idiosyncratic work in successes and flops alike. Even when he’s villainous, it’s impossible not to love him. (Except when he’s Mr. C in Twin Peaks: The Return, of course.)
That kind of cerebral deadpan is key to his career-long collaboration with fellow Northwestern boy David Lynch, who plucked him from obscurity to star in his sprawling adaptation of Dune, whose disastrous reception nonetheless prepared him to become Lynch’s muse for Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks. But the Emmy-nominated actor has brought an intellectual, deadpan ease to decades of roles in film and TV, from the dogged Dale Cooper to the oddball Mayor of Portlandia.
In 2020, MacLachlan is busier than ever: from a small, fun turn in Josh Trank’s Capone to his portrayal of Thomas Edison in Michael Almereyda’s dizzying, Brechtian anti-biopic Tesla. A Sundance favorite of ours, MacLachlan’s turn as one of history’s so-called Great Men is but one of the film’s many highlights. Opposite Ethan Hawke’s mercurial, cerebral genius, MacLachlan’s Edison is stentorian, authoritative, and downright petty. But there are glimmers of tragedy to him, Almereyda highlighting the frustration of having all the money in the world, and still being unable to recognize the genius of your peers.
In anticipation of Tesla‘s release on Friday, August 21st, Consequence of Sound‘s own Clint Worthington had a nice long chat with MacLachlan about the winding road he’s taken throughout his 40 years on screen: from the lows of Dune and Showgirls to the highs of Twin Peaks and Portlandia and all the strange little roles in between. Together, we talk about his relationship with David Lynch, touch on some failed TV pilots, and 10 specific years that defined his career to date.