Among the handful of people who haven’t been cast in Showtime’s upcoming third season of Twin Peaks are a few actors from the show’s original two seasons. Many fans were somewhat puzzled when neither Piper Laurie nor Joan Chen who played Packard Mill bigwigs Catherine Martell and Josie Packard—were not included in the list of 217 cast members released by David Lynch last month. While the soul of Chen’s character was apparently absorbed into the wood of the Great Northern Hotel in the latter half of the second season—which, to be fair, doesn’t preclude a Lynch character’s return—Laurie’s was still very much alive when the show came to its initial end in 1991. So her absence was particularly confusing, and, as it turns out, Laurie appropriately confused.
“I made it very clear to David and the team that I would be delighted to come back. I had a fantastic time on the original and won lots of awards. I’m surprised and I have no idea why I haven’t been called back,” the three-time Oscar nominee revealed to Entertainment Weekly. “I did send a note to David that I would be delighted to return, but I think most of the material that I was in on the original didn’t really involve the darker aspects of the show, and I can guess maybe that’s where David and Mark Frost are going, but I really don’t know. My character was more on the silly, comic, fun side.”
So, why were the two actresses, who shared a subplot and many scenes over the course of the show’s original 30 episodes, excluded? According to an anonymous source close to the production, it was simply a matter of storytelling necessity. “[Chen] was not asked to return. Lynch couldn’t find something for her or Piper Laurie that would make sense,” the source says. “They had conversations, but couldn’t find a way for her to return… [Chen]’s not upset about it. If she was involved, she would comment on it.”
Chris Mulkey (Hank Jennings), Heather Graham (Annie Blackburn), Eric Da Re (Leo Johnson), and Michael J. Anderson (The Man From Another Place) are among the other cast members not returning for the new season, and neither they, Lynch nor Showtime have been willing to discuss the reasons, though Anderson did allude to unsuccessful contract negotiations in a recent Facebook post. Michael Ontkean, who originally played Sheriff Harry S. Truman, is currently enjoying retired life in Hawaii, so Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) is taking over the role.