David Lynch remained true to form in a surprise appearance to promote "Twin Peaks" Monday, managing to tantalize with rune-like pronouncements that left reporters scratching their heads.
"This word 'expect' is a magical thing," the mysterious writer-director behind "Blue Velvet," "Mulholland Drive" and other films told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, California, when asked about the new version of his fabled murder mystery "Twin Peaks" that will premiere on Showtime May 21. "People expect things and hopefully their expectations are met when they see the thing."
Showtime decided to bring Lynch out alone to answer questions for 15 minutes, before a panel featuring "Twin Peaks" stars Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, Madchen Amick, Robert Forster and Kimmy Robertson. But for all his air of good-humored inscrutability, the oracular Lynch did confirm a few points. He has directed all 18 hours of the new series, and that material will be packaged as 18 episodes, he said.
When asked why, despite an enormous cast, some original actors did not return, including Michael Ontkean and Lara Flynn Boyle, Lynch did not offer specifics but indicated that he and those cast members more or less came to a mutual agreement about the project going forward without them. "It's a little bit of both," he replied when asked whether it was he or the actors who came to the decision.
And Lynch reiterated what he has said in the past, that he never wanted to reveal the killer of Laura Palmer, the homecoming queen whose murder set in motion the plot for the original "Twin Peaks." (Executives at ABC, which aired the original series, had other ideas about tying up loose ends.) But the Palmer mystery remains at the heart of the new series.
"The story of Laura Palmer's last seven days is very much important to this," Lynch said of the new show.
The genesis of the revival came about after his longtime collaborator, writer Mark Frost, sent Lynch a note proposing a return to "Twin Peaks." The pair met at the Hollywood restaurant Musso & Frank to discuss the project. More recently, they worked together on Skype (Lynch lives in Hollywood and Frost lives in Ojai, about an hour's drive away).
But on many other points, Lynch had little to nothing to say, although he remained unfailingly gracious in batting aside queries.
Asked about a much-publicized rift with Showtime, which led him to briefly announce he was leaving the series, Lynch politely said: "I would rather not discuss that." But he added that he was now "very happy being at Showtime."
When asked about how much TV had changed since the original "Twin Peaks" went off the air in 1991, he again demurred: "I don't really think about those things."
And when a reporter wondered if Lynch had thought about the appetite for a "Twin Peaks" revival or was too "in the middle" of that fictional world to consider it, the director replied: "I'm too in the middle - and I don't go out much."
When MacLachan, who has worked with Lynch since "Dune," finally walked out onstage a few minutes later for his own panel, a reporter could not help wondering whether the director was just as maddeningly hard-to-parse on the set.
"You guys got a lot," MacLachlan deadpanned. "You did really, really well. He must really like you."
"Twin Peaks" will premiere on Showtime on May 21 at 9 p.m.