I recently had the pleasure of speaking with actress Sarah Jean Long, who played Miriam in Twin Peaks Season 3. Below is a transcript of our conversation which I hope you enjoy!
AG: How did you learn about the role in Twin Peaks?
SJL: Well, it’s actually a fun and interesting story. I was, and still, working at a movie theater here in Los Angeles, and I was working the guest services line being my overly bubbly customer service self. And Miss Johanna Ray, who is one of the casting directors of the show was in my line, and she walks up to me with this gentleman who I later learned was Richard Chamberlain. They both walked up to me, and he started asking me all these questions like if I was an actress. They told me that they had a role for me, and of course, I didn’t know who either of them were. So I was like, “Yeah, sure. You have a role for me. Okay.” It turned out to actually be real, and two weeks later I was auditioning for them. It turned out it was for Twin Peaks and it all worked out.
AG: Wow! I’ve interviewed I don’t know how many of the cast members so far, but that’s my favorite casting story.
SJL: Oh, awesome! A true Cinderella story totally, right?
AG: Oh, I love it. Were you familiar with Twin Peaks when you went in for the audition?
SJL: Oh, definitely not. I mean, my parents have always talked about the show. I noticed it on Netflix, of course. Honestly, when I walked in, I didn’t even find out it was Twin Peaks until I went to costume to get my costume and everything from them to find out what I was going to wear and they actually accidentally told me. And they were like, “Hey! Do you watch Twin Peaks? Are you familiar with the show?” And I was like, “Sure!” because I was totally naïve. And they were like, “Oh my God! You weren’t supposed to know. Did you know you were?” And I was like, “Um.” And they were like, “Okay. We didn’t tell you, but it’s Twin Peaks.” I’m like, “Oh, great!” After that, I did the research and called my parents, and they were like, “Oh my God, Sarah! It’s Twin Peaks! It’s Twin Peaks!” I’m like, “Cool” and then it was after that I did my research, and I’m like, “Okay, yeah. This is kinda huge.”
AG: You were in some pretty interesting scenes. Your first one was at the Double R Diner. A lot of people kind of challenged the fact that the show didn’t really bank on nostalgia a whole lot but you were in a very nostalgic setting for that show. What was that experience like working with people who did have that 20-plus year relationship? They had known each other from the early ’90s, and now you were in a setting with them. What was that like for you?
SJL: Well, I was definitely very, very nervous. Twin Peaks is my first ever TV series, my first step into acting. So when I walked onto Double R Diner, I knew it was a huge deal. So I was really super quiet and just really taking it all in. I pretty much spent two hours just sitting in that booth, just watching everything that would happen because even when they said, “Okay. It’s break time.” My set double was sitting right next to me, and I was like, “No, I’m just going to sit here.”
So it was just amazing, especially with Shelly and Heidi, both of them right next to me. They’re like really cool chicks. I was quiet and shy most of the time, but it was really just slowly taking it all in, especially with Mr David Lynch just ten feet away from me. It was mostly just a lot of watching and taking it all in.
AG: Was that your first day?
AG: That might have been perhaps a good way to start, considering your next scene was the hit-and-run scene. What was that like for you, especially now knowing that this was your first television role?
SJL: The whole process was completely new to me. I mean, even David didn’t really give me any description as to what I was supposed to do. I literally had to ask for the script so I can learn my lines; otherwise I wouldn’t have got it because everything was so hush-hush and quiet. I was really just doing what I thought was right. I didn’t know if it was right, if I was reacting right. I was reading the lines, and I’m like, “Oh my God. This happens.” But I don’t know any context yet because everything was so hush-hush. So I was really super nervous and sweating just hoping that I was doing everything right, and as far as what David was telling me, it seems like I was.
It was interesting, especially that scene because we were on set for maybe two hours just doing this truck scene and there were people watching, locals who were fans of Twin Peaks. One of the fans caught pictures of me and sent them to me, and they were really cool-looking, it was like, “Ah!” It was such a new experience for me. It was great.
AG: You moved from there to a scene with one of the biggest villains of the series. It was brutal. It was hard to watch. It was very violent. What was that like for you as a new actress?
SJL: That was also nerve-wracking. I have to say I am an excellent screamer. I have perfected my terrifying scream many, many times so that I have prepared for but it just … Richard’s the sweetest guy in the world … Eamon, I mean. Filming with him, he just made me so freaking comfortable that doing this really terrible scene just … It just came out kind of natural. I think the only direction David gave me was to scream louder, so that was pretty much it. So I guess I must have been doing something right. As I said, Eamon was a really great guy to work with so it just all came together. I guess it just kind of clicked.
AG: How would you describe the experience of working with David Lynch?
SJL: I didn’t really know how big the guy was until I really got into Twin Peaks and understanding the whole concept and not understanding anything and being totally confused, but he’s a really interesting dude. He’s really quiet. I was actually really nervous. I didn’t really step up to him, and you know, I really wish I did to try to talk to him and get to know him and everything. But I was just really observing him and watching him direct and everything, and working with him, he just, from what I got, was a really sweet and awesome dude.
AG: What were some other notable experiences that you had? Maybe off camera, anything like that that you care to share?
SJL: I pretty much spent most of my time just taking in the set because it’s beautiful, beautiful Seattle in the middle of these gorgeous woods and these tiny towns just in the middle of nowhere. I’m from Los Angeles, so I’ve never been anywhere outside of the city. So I spent most of the time just taking in the scenery and chilling with the crew. I mean, I just spent hours looking at these gorgeous mountains and the trees, and David talks all the time about how the woods bring out some sort of different person in everyone’s soul and I was just like really clicked with me, as far as the scenery goes.
Even if you’ve just been to the actual Double R Diner in that tiny town, it’s just a lot to take in. I mean for me, it’s just all these trees, and it was a totally different experience. I feel like the oxygen gave me a kind of high because I’ve never felt anything like I did. With the crew, in that town, it’s just a totally awesome experience.
I spent most of my time with Eamon, chilling at the hotel and just getting to know each other and really just enjoying my time out of Los Angeles because it is just a totally different place.
AG: Do you have any plans to attend the Twin Peaks Festival or anything like that?
SJL: Actually, I have been mulling it over. I’ve been talking to John Pirruccello. I actually just filmed a movie with him and he was talking to me about the festival, and I’m really trying to. I’m really hoping that I can go. I’m trying to get everything together. I’m talking to Sabrina Sutherland. I’m hopefully going to get the hookup through John, and I think it’s going to happen. It’s gonna happen. You know what? It’s going to happen.
AG: We’re coming up on the year anniversary of the show returning this Sunday. What is life like for you a year later after your first television show has aired? Personally, professionally, how have things changed for you over the past year?
SJL: Well, my acting career has definitely started to take off. It’s really funny because I realize how small the acting world is. So a year later I’m still running into the cast of Twin Peaks. Like from people who were involved I’m finding out that the theater company that I’m in, Whitefire Theater, Kimmy Robertson has been going there for years. So I’m now friends with Kimmy Robertson. I’m like “Okay, this is great.” Even like Elizabeth Anweis and John Pirruccello, I just keep meeting all of these awesome, cool people from the cast. I’m like, “Wow, Twin Peaks is a very small world.” It’s kind of funny how we all revolve around each other, and it all just comes together. So really I’m just kind of in the high of Twin Peaks. It’s kind of like taking everything in. It still feels like yesterday that we were just filming. Nothing has changed, it feels like except I’m meeting new friends.
AG: Any upcoming projects or anything like that coming out that you would like to discuss in this interview?
SJL: Yeah, sure! Well like I say I just filmed this movie with John Pirruccello and with Elizabeth Anweis who played Abbie in Twin Peaks, and it’s called Zero Fucks. I’m not sure what I can tell you or not tell you. I’m not really sure what kind of movie it is, but it’s pretty much this … this world where the four last people on Earth after Donald Trump has destroyed everything. So it’s a farce obviously, but it’s a really funny movie that kind of predicts somewhat not the future, hopefully not, but we’ll see. But yeah, that’s a movie to look forward to, and John Pirruccello plays Donald Plump the cat. So it’s an interesting flick that Twin Peaks fans are going to get a hoot out of.
AG: I can’t wait for that one, definitely excited for it.
SJL: So that’s something to look forward to. We just wrapped two Saturdays ago, but it’s on IMDB. The guy who wrote it and cast it and directed it his wife is Krista Husar. So there are all these Twin Peaks actors in this show. So it’s again all ties into the Twin Peaks universe and how small the universe is.
AG: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. Any final words for those checking this out?
SJL: I just want to thank Twin Peaks universe, the fans and everything for accepting me for who I am because it’s been an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to experience further Twin Peaks awesomeness with you all in further years.
If you enjoyed this interview, be sure to check out some of our others: