In a new interview with Pitchfork, David Lynch opened up about the methodology behind the music in his ambitious, recently-concluded 18-hour series Twin Peaks: The Return. The director also clarified a few points about the unconventional reappearance of Phillip Jeffries, the FBI-agent character originally portrayed by David Bowie in the 1992 Twin Peaks film Fire Walk With Me, on the show.
Jeffries showed up in The Return in two forms: both in repurposed footage from Fire Walk With Me and as an odd, talking machine many fans and critics (yours truly included) have carelessly referred to as a “teakettle.” In the Pitchfork interview, Lynch first clarified that though the surreal new version of Jeffries has a “tea kettle spout thing” that helps him communicate, it is not, in fact, a literal teakettle: “It’s just a machine.” He also confirmed, as most fans predicted, that Bowie had no knowledge of the new form his character would take, though Lynch did not clarify whether the machine-Jeffries concept came to him before or after Bowie’s death.
As Peaks producer Sabrina Sutherland clarified in a recent Reddit AMA, however, Bowie did sign off on Lynch reusing footage from his sole scene in Fire Walk With Me for the new Twin Peaks series before his passing. But Lynch said Bowie’s consent came with a stipulation: He wanted his original vocal track, which featured him doing a Southern accent, be overdubbed. Here’s what Lynch said:
We got permission to use the old footage, but he didn’t want his voice used in it. I think someone must have made him feel bad about his Louisiana accent in Fire Walk With Me, but I think it’s so beautiful. He wanted to have it done by a legitimate actor from Louisiana, so that’s what we had to do. The guy [voice actor Nathan Frizzell] did a great job.
Conscientious Peaks fans have noted that the audio track from the Fire Walk With Me scene was re-recorded and altered in The Return‘s repurposing of it: A crucial “this” is altered to “that” in one of the lines. It turns out Lynch was only adhering to Bowie’s wishes here.
Lynch also noted that Bowie was “such a good guy, so easy to talk to and regular. I just wish he was still around and that I could work with him again.” Read the full interview here, and watch Bowie’s original scene from Fire Walk With Me below.