Talking with MacLachlan inevitably leads to the topic of David Lynch. In this interview to promote his most recent movie, Touch of Pink, MacLachlan looks back on his past projects including Dune, Twin Peaks, and Blue Velvet, and shares some insight into working with his Touch of Pink director Iqbal Rashid, and his past experiences with critically acclaimed filmmaker, David Lynch.
Theres a delicate balance between playing Cary Grant and doing an impersonation of Grant. Can you talk about walking that fine line?
I went into it trying to be as Cary Grant as possible. The focus for me was on the dialect, trying to get that exactly right his accent. Physicality the way he moved in the light that was so beautifully lit by David Makin in that old great 1940s style movie light. And I started with that, and we also really focused on trying to make the relationship with Jimi [Mistrys] character real. Like I wasnt just there sort of spouting out these platitudes. I really wanted him to feel like I was important, that the relationship was important, that I served a purpose. That I wasnt just there as a crutch.
Were you just looking at his film persona or did you take anything from his personal life?
Well, Cary Grant never gave an interview in his life apart from later in his life when he did An Evening with Cary Grant, where he actually took questions from the audiences and answered them in his fashion. None of his personal life really made it into press. It was really about his screen persona we were trying to capture because that was what Jimis character would have responded to. It had less to do with who he was and what motivated him and what he was made of, as opposed to how he served Jimis character.
He didnt do any interviews on TV or in print?
There [were] no television interviews at the time and print and Im taking this from a wonderful documentary about him that Robert Trachtenberg has done for the Classic Movie Channel and he said that there were no interviews. He wrote some first-person articles. In terms of him sitting down and discussing this or discussing that, nothing.
When youre in a scene and no one else is supposed to be able to see or hear you, that seems like it could be quite a challenge as an actor.
Each time wed get in there, wed have a new set of problems as to where I was supposed to be positioned. Wed do the blocking for the scene and, Is this going to work? Are my asides to Jimi going to work in relation to the other dialogue that is happening in the scene? Ian had constructed it so well that it really wasnt that difficult. More than anything it was the other characters in the scenes having to not crack up or look over at me at any given time. That was probably a struggle and, of course, I took that upon myself to try and make them laugh as much as possible, as you do.
If youre not doing Cary Grant the man but just Cary Grant the actor, how do you pull that off?
I think you do an impersonation of him from his films. I watched different films for different reasons. Like His Girl Friday was really good for delivery. Some Like It Hot, which he wasnt even in, Tony Curtis does a great Cary Grant homage/impersonation and that was really helpful to me for [his voice]. I said, Ill take a little bit of that, Ill borrow a little bit from this," and I sort of made a stew of it. And then in one scene For instance, the final scene of the movie hes a much more controlled Cary Grant than he is when hes commenting on Toronto. He had his own little reality, too.
Have you heard thousands of bad Cary Grant impersonations?
No yet. But I think that if the film comes out I anticipate [I will]. Rich Little did a very good Cary Grant, I remember, even complete with the glasses he wore.
Did you ever think you looked like him?
No. I remember when I first started in the business there were the inevitable comparisons to qualities. Oh, hes got a Cary Grant quality. I think when I did The Hidden, it was because Honestly Cary Grant borrowed from Harold Lloyd in some of his early screwball comedies. For instance, Bringing Up Baby and The Awful Truth some of the early ones were Harold Lloyd-influenced and thats who I used in The Hidden as sort of a template. Everybody borrows from everybody else, I guess, is what Im trying to say.
Who did you watch when you were growing up? Who influenced you?
I lived a fairly sheltered movie life when I was growing up. We didnt see many films. I guess my first recollection would be either Buddy Hackett or Dean Jones in Herbie the Love Bug.