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Kyle MacLachlan Reflects on "Touch of Pink"

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Kyle MacLachlan Touch of Pink

Kyle MacLachlan stars in "Touch of Pink"

Photo © Sony Pictures Classics
Kyle MacLachlan has tackled more than his share of interesting characters in a film career that spans two decades. With writer/director Ian Iqbal Rashid’s “Touch of Pink,” MacLachlan adds the role of the spirit of Hollywood legend Cary Grant to his already impressive resume.

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.

There’s 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 1940’s style movie light. And I started with that, and we also really focused on trying to make the relationship with Jimi [Mistry’s] character real. Like I wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 Jimi’s 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 Jimi’s character.

He didn’t do any interviews on TV or in print?
There [were] no television interviews at the time and print – and I’m 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 you’re 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 we’d get in there, we’d have a new set of problems as to where I was supposed to be positioned. We’d 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 wasn’t 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 you’re 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 wasn’t even in, Tony Curtis does a great Cary Grant homage/impersonation and that was really helpful to me for [his voice]. I said, “I’ll take a little bit of that, I’ll 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 he’s a much more controlled Cary Grant than he is when he’s 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, he’s 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 that’s who I used in “The Hidden” as sort of a template. Everybody borrows from everybody else, I guess, is what I’m 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 didn’t see many films. I guess my first recollection would be either Buddy Hackett or Dean Jones in “Herbie the Love Bug.”

PAGE 2: On David Lynch, Cary Grant, and the Test of Time

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