I recently had the opportunity to speak with actress and stuntwoman Tammie Baird (Lorraine from Twin Peaks Season 3). We got to discuss a great number of topics in what was a really enjoyable conversation. Thanks as always for your support of 25YL!
AG: How did you learn about the role in Twin Peaks?
TB: I received a telephone call or a text message from the stunt coordinator for Twin Peaks, Mark Norby. He asked me for a photo and I sent it to him, and I don’t remember exactly what the details were because sometimes they’ll say they were looking for somebody who is perky or a young mom or something specific. I do believe he said haggard and not like my bright eyed and bushy tailed perky smile. So I sent a photo of me looking kind of haggard, kinda stressed or something along those lines. I sent in a photo, and then Mark called me and said that I was chosen and I was ecstatic. I did a happy dance. He’s like “You’ve been hand chosen by David Lynch.” Every emotion was going through my body. It was just an amazing experience. I think I was walking on Cloud 9 or higher. You know it was just amazing. You know when you’re smiling ear to ear and you’re so happy and you feel like you’re going to burst with ecstatic-ness? I wouldn’t have minded it if he had just said you know you were chosen period. That would have meant enough for me and you know Johanna Ray was the casting director. Who knows maybe she was sitting there next to David maybe they chose me together?
AG: I’ve spoken to quite a bit of the cast now. The level of secrecy was definitely intense for all but there does seem to be a varying level of secrecy depending on the person. For example, a lot of people didn’t even know that they were working with David Lynch until they arrived on set.
TB: I did know ahead of time that it was David, but I did not know that it was Twin Peaks. Maybe it’s a good thing that I didn’t know because I would have had to Uber to work and not been able to drive.
AG: So you were familiar with the show prior?
TB: Yes. It was crazy because I watched it when it originally came out. You know I was younger then, living in my parents’ home and didn’t have control of TV like we do now. You know now everyone has a TV in their bedroom but then I had to watch things when I could. I would hear things about the show around my house, which was so amazing that there was such a big buzz about Twin Peaks. It was amazing because you would hear people talking about it in the stores. And I was like “Oh I missed that! Oh but tell me!” Back then, I didn’t care if someone told me something. Because then I could see the next episode and be kind of caught up.
AG: Very cool. How many days were you on set filming Twin Peaks?
TB: I was only there one day. It was hard to leave. I was trying to find reasons to stay [laughs].
AG: What kind of directions or background on your character did you receive prior to filming?
TB: I was in my trailer, which was awesome. It was an awesome trailer. I don’t always get an actor’s trailer. I had this big beautiful trailer and my character’s name on the front. I was in there and it was amazing. And I was reading the script which is really cool. I was just really focused on my part. That’s all I was given was my stuff. I think maybe Duncan Todd might have been in there. I came to my trailer and walked on the set. I’m constantly telling myself to be cool. It’s constantly running through my head. So we go into my [Lorraine’s] office, and he [David Lynch] introduces himself. He shows me my character’s office and he tells me to have a seat. I sit on my side of the desk, and he sits in front of Lorraine’s desk and he is talking to me and he’s telling me about her. At this moment I’m getting all of my descriptions of the character and in my head I’m like “Oh my God, this is so rad. David Lynch is talking to me.” In my head I’m saying all these things like “Oh my gosh, I wish he was my grandpa.” I’m just listening to his voice. His tone was amazing. I was like “Oh my gosh, my dad and him would be like best friends.” I had to regain focus—he’s not going to repeat this again and then I get back into the conversation to focus on what he’s telling me and absorb that. My face, I remember, is focusing on his words—and I was like “You can’t be smiling ear to ear.” It was just so funny. I’ve heard everything he said, but at the same time, my internal monologue just makes me laugh constantly.
AG: You’ve worked on a lot of different projects with a lot of different directors. How would you compare this experience to others you’ve been a part of?
TB: I love being on set. This experience takes the cake. I have my all Top 3 favorite experiences, like my first time being a stuntwoman. That’s always going to be high on my list, working with David. You know I had always wanted to be an actor ever since I was a child. When I was young, I wanted to be a model, an actress and I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader was because literally their uniforms were so amazing. Acting is all I ever wanted to do. When I was on this set [for Twin Peaks] every part of my body felt like “You’re an actor. This is you. This is it. You’ve officially taken the first step to having this dream come true.” For me, this experience with David was so intense and amazing that it will always have a special place in my heart always.
AG: What are your other top experiences?
TB: Mr & Mrs Smith. Prior to booking that role on Mr & Mrs Smith, I only had the objective of being an actor. Life is amazing, and you never know what’s going to get thrown at you and how your path may change a little bit to lead you to the next spot. When I was in Mr & Mrs Smith, I was acting and then I get shot by Angelina Jolie’s character. I tell everybody it’s my Tennessee Williams Cat On A Hot Tin Roof moment. I heard a click click. And it was like everything in my life just lined up and said, “This is where you’re supposed to go.” I’m really glad that I listened to my internal monologue because I feel as a stunt woman I have probably got more work than I would have as an actor.
AG: What’s the life of a stunt woman like?
TB: It’s exhilarating, nerve-wracking. It’s hard. It can be miserable. There are times when you’re working at night and it’s 20F and you’re wearing shorts and a tank top. You have to fall down stairs or get hit by a car. Some of it is amazing. It’s an occupation that I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I would go in to. And I’m so grateful that my childhood and my upbringing helped guide me or molded me to have the foundation to be able to pursue this career and then fine tune it as I enter that industry. It’s very competitive. You know I started later in life because again it wasn’t my objective, it was something that I fell into. No pun intended. It’s challenging, but you know the fact that there are things that I’m really good at, like taking hard hits and making them look torturous or painful and not getting hurt that I just I absolutely love about it. When I do a car hit when everyone’s like just silent and then they “Are you okay?” and then I pop up, I love that. You know I’m lucky that when I got into the business there were some great female role models or mentors that I had. Even though a lot of them had no idea that they were mentoring me or my role model. I think it’s very important to lead by example. I would watch women and how they conduct themselves and behave and the body of work that they have done and also talking to people and asking “What do you think of this woman?” and people you know when a man would say “Oh my gosh she’s amazing, top notch.” When another woman compliments another woman, that’s amazing — very cool but competitive people.
Some people think that a stunt woman is glamorous, but it isn’t. I remember when I first started the stunts and I was on the set of the reshoots for The Invasion, and we were working night in downtown L.A., and we were driving. The stuntwoman Debbie Evans, who is doubling Nicole Kidman, comes out of an alleyway and we all jump on top of her car. We’re supposed to be walking through the alley where we had it all set up we’re making sure there weren’t any like needles or poo or anything. They cleaned it thoroughly and then made it look dirty, but they could not get rid of the urine smell. Definitely not glamorous [laughs]. Also working on your period as a girl always sucks when you have horrible cramps. Or if your wardrobe is heaven forbid white or if you can’t get to a bathroom or things like that sometimes happen. I think that goes for every woman in any occupation.
AG: Your big scene in Twin Peaks was your death scene. It caught people off guard because we knew so little about your character and yet the scene was so brutal, such personal violence. What was that like for you and how does it compare to other stunts you’ve done before?
TB: It was very similar you know to when I’ve done other roles where I’m a stunt woman and an actress. I think that TV Guide called it the most gruesome death scene of 2017. When I read that I loved it. On the day that I filmed it David said it was too bad that they had to kill me. I was trying to find ways to hang out thereafter. That scene was actually amazing. That was the most blood I have ever worked with and it was fabulous. I can’t remember the name of the team that made my chest protector. I had a custom made chest protester made for my body that went underneath my wardrobe. When we did the scene when Christophe comes in, and you know that first initial stabbing gets me into the corner and he just knew where he needed to stab me to start making the blood go off. It was brutal force I just kept screaming and screaming.
It was pretty gross but awesome at the same time. I loved it. Christophe had this grill made for it. He’s the nicest guy too, but I didn’t know that at the time. Now he is my friend but at the time we were just meeting, and he comes in and he has his teeth on and he’s looking at me just like, you know, “I’m going to kill you.” It was great because that gave me something to play off of which was this intensity and just the hatred that he’s stabbing me and wants me dead in such a horrible manner. On that day, Mark Norby, the stunt coordinator, wasn’t there. We had an amazing stunt man and coordinator Brian Duffy who was there that day and he worked with both him and I’ve worked with Christophe prior to doing this scene to make sure that he had a good handle on the ice pick. I told him to really focus. You know when you’re in a scene, you get adrenaline and it was very important that Christophe knew where to go. He was very safe with it. I felt very confident.
AG: Any additional off-camera stories or memories from filming you’d like to share?
TB: After my death scene, I told you earlier I did not want to leave that day. I said to David that I wanted to say goodbye. He grabs me by the hand, and he’s like come with me. We’ve passed the actor playing Duncan Todd and David says “Oh he’s bad. You don’t like him.” We walk into where they’re filming the next scene and David is like “Hey everybody, that’s a wrap on Lorraine.” I was not ready for that. I was like “Please someone be taking photos.” You know I did not get a picture with David. But he kept saying “Thank you, Lorraine,” and I was like “Does he know my real name?” And he gave only Lorraine. Now obviously, I’m Lorraine forever. That was an amazing fun experience for me. Other fun experiences that I had, when I was on set we had a lot of wardrobe changes to really make sure that Lorraine was who David wanted her to be. I’ve had so many people write about how they liked her necklace and people get really into the details like that.
People got mad at me actually for not telling them stuff. We were sworn to secrecy and to not say anything. One day I’m sleeping in my bed and wake up and I start getting these text messages and it’s like oh my god you’re in Twin Peaks. Panic ensued. Did someone get into my phone? All these scary things going through my head and then I go to my computer and I see that the Twin Peaks cast list had been released. It wasn’t me. When I logged onto my Facebook, I had some of my friends and really good acquaintances asking me stuff like what can you tell me about it. I couldn’t say anything because you know you tell one person and they tell a person and so on and so on. There was this one woman, in particular, that got really mad and we might not even be Facebook friends anymore.
AG: Being friends with you on social media, I’ve seen you be very involved with the other cast members and things like the Pop Up events & other outings. What’s that interaction been like for you and how would you perhaps compare that to other experiences from other projects.
TB: There’s never been an experience as amazing as my Twin Peaks experience. When people talk about the Twin Peaks family, as everyone says, it’s true. We are such a family and to think this project wrapped two years ago. We go to dinners every month if not every other month. We had a Christmas party this past December. Who does that a year after the project has wrapped? No one else does. We just did a thing last month, Adele, Christophe and myself attended an Emmy “For Your Consideration” event and David, Kyle and Laura were talking. It was amazing because while they were doing the interview, you know David asked, “Is there anybody else from Twin Peaks here?” We raised our hands and he’s asking how we were, and I was like “Oh my gosh that’s so amazing that he’s talking about us.” You know normally when you’re up there you’re focusing on moderator’s request. We ran into Laura in the hallway. She was just like “Oh my gosh!” hugs all three of us. Then Kyle came up afterwards and we get our group photos or family photos if you will. So again, I can’t stress how fantastic Twin Peaks is, being part of this family.
If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to check out some of our others!