Kyle MacLachlan, born in 1959 as the son of a stockbroker in Washington State, was known in 1984 with “Dune”. The fantasy tale was a flop at the box office, but made MacLachlan the favorite actor of David Lynch, who helped the young actor to world fame two years later in the surreal thriller “Blue Velvet” and in 1990 as FBI agent Dale Cooper in “Twin Peaks”. In “Atlantic Crossing”, the 61-year-old dares to face very big political animals: He plays the US war president Franklin D. Roosevelt – and in doing so also goes into private life. In an interview with RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND), MacLachlan talks about filming in a wheelchair, his passion for wine and cult director David Lynch.
Mr. MacLachlan, Franklin D. Roosevelt was a company and crisis manager from 1933 until his death shortly before the end of World War II: What does this US President, whom you play in the series “Atlantic Crossing” mean to you?
He was the right man in the right office, supported by the right woman as a consultant, to address the difficulties of the country and the world before the country and the world even recognized them as such. He worried about the people – and was the exact opposite of our current president.
Is the series a political statement about today’s USA?
It is at least a necessary reminder that nations should work together – especially when the problems are as daunting as they were then in the face of the Nazis and are today in the face of climate change and Corona. The White House definitely lacks the moral courage to do this at the moment.
What is it about great statesmen and women of states that we so love to watch their private problems in films?
I think it calms people to see that great people also have private worries and fears. In “Atlantic Crossing” it becomes clear what sacrifices they have to be prepared to make. This is all the more evident in a figure like Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was in a wheelchair because of his former polio disease.
Was it difficult to play seated all the time?
Definitely! I was already sitting as Dr. Orson Hodge on “Desperate Housewives” in a wheelchair, but only briefly. Director Alexander Eik had a lot to do here, prescribing motionlessness down the waist.
Has the role changed the way you look at people with disabilities?
Absolutely. In general with regard to all people who have to cope with everyday life despite a handicap. Especially with Roosevelt, because as President he was expected to be particularly strong. This is one of the reasons why he tried to disguise his handicap by letting himself roll onto podiums during speeches or emphasizing that he had no impairment.
On the other hand, Donald Trump, who has corona, seems to want to show his fitness by being busy on the golf course.
At least I can understand that.
You are considered a passionate golfer. Have you ever played on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago course in Florida?
No, luckily not. My father was a very good golfer, so I learned to love the sport early on. But I’ve only become an acceptable golfer. That’s why I quickly devoted myself to wine, one of my other passions besides film.
As a drinker?
(laughs) Even as a winemaker! I grew up in a dry but sunny corner of Washington where very good wine is grown. When I moved to Los Angeles and New York, I returned to wine too. It was also the best opportunity for my wife to get me out of my chair when there was nothing to do between filming.
What has happened more often since Corona?
The alternation of a lot and little work is not unusual. The difficult part was not working for such a long period of time. At least I was able to deal more intensively with viticulture. Occupational therapy for celebrities has now grown into a small business. All of my wines have bears in their names. The newest one is called “Twin Bear”.
From “Twin Peaks”? That’s called good marketing!
Better call it reminiscence. After all, the secret of my early films is David Lynch.
Although your first film with Lynch as a director was a failure.
With today’s technical possibilities, “Dune” would have been a success even then. And although the film was a bit complicated, it lifted the science fiction genre above the level of “Star Wars”. The same goes for the mystery genre. That too was different after “Twin Peaks”. Who knows where I would have ended up as an actor without David. When I met him for casting in 1983, he was already the original of today and I was unknown.
Did you become his, well, muse?
(laughs) Probably because of what we have in common. We both come from Northwest America, grew up similarly, have the same dry sense of humor that is also expressed in “Twin Peaks”. He came from painting to filming, I from classical singing. We also love the simple things in life, for example a good glass of wine at sunset.
„Atlantic Crossing“, on Magenta TV, eight episodes, directed by Alexander Eik, with Kyle MacLachlan, Sofia Helin