I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Andrea Hays who played Heidi in both the original run of Twin Peaks and The Return. Andrea is as bubbly as her character and this was such a fun interview, I hope you enjoy it.
MH: How did you originally learn about the role in Twin Peaks and what was the casting process like?
AH: My friend Elizabeth Yoffe was doing the local casting for the minor characters in the show. She called me up one day with a ‘confession’ that she had put a photo of me in the casting pile for Heidi. She figured that it was a million-to-one shot that I would be chosen as I didn’t have an agent and I mostly worked behind the scenes in costumes and art departments. Well, I did get chosen so she had to explain to me why I had to come in and meet David Lynch. I adored The Elephant Man so I thought, “Well there’s no chance in hell I’ll be cast when everyone in Seattle is trying for this but hey! I get to meet David Lynch”.
MH: Oh wow, that’s quite a story. What were you told about your character?
AH: Heidi is a large German girl who blushes and giggles easily. That was it!
MH: Despite being quite a minor character you’re one of the most memorable which I personally believe is down to that perfect laugh. What’s the story behind that laugh?
AH: Aw thank you for saying that! I actually can’t believe how many people know my character. That giggle always comes out when I am laughing too hard or I am nervous. It had always annoyed me as people would often make fun of it. Well, I was nervous meeting David Lynch and Mark Frost because I just knew they would see through me, that I wasn’t a professional actress and yell “J’accuse!!!” and throw me in a poser prison – that’s a real thing isn’t it?
MH: Haha I’ll agree, it’s definitely real!
AH: Anyway, we were discussing Boise, Idaho of all things. I was born there and David had lived there and we had both been swimming in the Natatorium. I made a lame joke about it and the giggle slipped out. “Damn!! Well I just blew my integrity,” I thought. Nope, I found out later that when I left both David and Mark told Elizabeth that they didn’t need to see the rest of the Heidi’s. Sorry to all you actual actresses, I didn’t mean to! Here’s a fun fact though, the sound guys asked if they could turn my giggle into a ring tone, I remember saying sure but wow wouldn’t that be annoying. I have heard it twice in Seattle now, nobody that I knew, but it was quite the surreal experience.
MH: That’s a ring tone we all need! Did you have any idea at the time that you were part of something that would be so huge?
AH: No not at all! As a matter of fact, when the pilot aired, the local news team filmed my parents’ reactions to seeing me on TV. The newscaster called me to ask for my thoughts and I couldn’t believe they were making such a big deal out of it. It’s not like I was the Idahoan who invented Fry Sauce for goodness sakes! (Yes Utah, Idaho invented it. DEAL WITH IT!) Turns out, someone I went to High School with got wind of it and called the news. When they asked my Mom if she was proud she answered, “Well, her one line was good…at least she didn’t play the corpse!” The tagline read, “Jean Hays, Hollywood Mom”. She said people would come by her bookstore to wave and say “Hi Hollywood Mom!”
MH: You probably get asked about this all the time so I apologise. One of your original scenes in which you were late for work because you couldn’t get your car started to which Shelly asks “Too busy jump starting the old man huh?” was filmed twice. Later, in another episode, we see pretty much the same scene. Do you have any information about that or know anything more about why it happened?
AH: Ha! People have all kinds of theories on this one, calling me the “Lynchian Circle” and exploring the mystery of it. The real reason was pretty tame and I thought it my duty to tell people the truth about it, I was a Girl Scout after all! However, people thought I was covering up the much much deeper meaning and seemed disappointed with the truth so now I just say, “Hmmmm, What do YOU think it means?” The truth actually has something to do with the Idaho invention of Fry Sauce, but, my lips are sealed.
MH: More mystery! That will no doubt stir up some more theories. How did you learn that Peaks would be returning after all these years?
AH: The rumours had been swirling around for years and people would get very excited and ask me WHEN? WHERE? HOW? and WHY DOES IT TAKE FIFTEEN MINUTES TO MAKE MINUTE RICE? I didn’t think it would happen so I paid no mind…
MH: How were you told they wanted you to reprise your role?
AH: I actually received a call from D’ann and Rob Lindley who now run the Twin Peaks festival. It seemed that David really wanted me back but for some reason they couldn’t find me. Sabrina Sutherland was on a mission to track me down any way necessary. She called them and asked for my number — now, many people claiming to be directors etc. call them asking for the personal numbers of past guests so they didn’t give it to her (Seriously thanks guys, it could have been a stalker!) They took her information instead and called me saying, “We are pretty sure this is actually legit but wanted you to decide.” I called, it was and ta da!!!
MH: Oh my, they really did want you to come back, how did that feel?
AH: I was pretty giddy. Twin Peaks was the last show I did before becoming a nurse. 25 years later and I was thinking of semi-retiring from nursing and it’s BAAAAAAAAAACK!! Another Lynchian Circle? Another fun fact for you Martin — I paid for my Technical Theater degree by working in a nursing home, I paid for my Nursing degree by doing Twin Peaks!
MH: That’s definitely a Lynchian Circle right there! Seeing you, Mädchen and Peggy back together behind the counter was like a dream come true. How did it feel being back on set in the diner?
AH: I miss my hat!! Otherwise, the uniforms were the same. Mädchen had always been super nice to me and remembered me. All three of us were in the make-up trailer together, I finished first and as I left I tapped Peggy on the shoulder and said, “I want a raise.”
MH: Were you surprised that you three still worked in the diner after all these years? Did you envision a different scenario before receiving the scripts?
AH: It made sense to me that Heidi still worked there. She is happy just being so probably didn’t see the need to move on! Besides, what would her favourite customers do without her? I was joking on the set that ‘I had dreams! I had ambitions! I was going to start my own roller disco dance team yet here I am, still slinging hash!’
MH: Let’s petition for a spin-off series all about Heidi’s roller disco dance team! As your scenes are centered around the diner. If you could serve and have a scene with any character from the TP universe who would it be and why?
AH: The Giant! Heidi would find him charming and ask to try on his shoes then giggle as her feet get swallowed up by them. She would crotchet him a pair of socks in his favourite colour like she does for all of her favourite customers.
MH: What do you think Heidi gets up to when she’s not working? Do you think she have her own mysteries or does she lead a quiet life?
AH: She has her own Etsy shop to sell all manner of crafts including artisanal toothpaste and hand-crocheted toothpaste tube cozies. I do actually have a Twitter account, @TwinPeaksHeidi, where I tweet the TP universe from her perspective. Recently, someone wrote a fan fiction piece outing Heidi as an Iron Curtain Spy who doesn’t realise the Cold War ended. I found it amusing.
MH: What’s it like being part of the Peaks family? Do you get recognised and asked to do the laugh a lot?
AH: I can always tell a true Peaks Freak if they recognise me. You would really have had to study the series often to know who I am! I usually get “Where is your accent?” followed by, “So…that can’t be a real giggle, they recorded that didn’t they?” Nope! All mine! A Japanese tour company used to do Twin Peaks Tours, sometimes coinciding with the annual festival. I was a guest one year and brought my friend Ted to the diner. As we got out of his car I was suddenly surrounded by about two dozen Japanese tourists all yelling “Heidi! Heidi!” They had an interpreter as they started asking me questions and snapping photos. One woman shyly told me, “We love your giggle”, so I asked them if they would like to giggle with me. We all did the Heidi giggle — hey! that could be a new dance craze! My friend was watching from outside the group and said it remains one of his favourite surreal experiences.
MH: That sounds amazing!! You have some brilliant memories of being involved with the show. Do you have any from on set?
AH: While filming Fire Walk With Me I was called to set even though I wasn’t in the script at all. David does that a lot, make sure you have all of your paint colours so you can create at will. It was fun. I brought books to read, et cetera so no worries. After a few hours he came over to me staring intently and said, “I would like to see you with a bloody nose.” So I said to him, “I would like to see you sea sick!” He stared for a second, nodded and said, “Hmmm, ok”. Thank goodness he has a sense of humour, I can be pretty sarcastic.
MH: Do you think we’ll get a Season 4 and would you reprise your role in it given the chance?
AH: I’m not sure there will be a Season 4 but, I WOULD DO IT IN A HEARTBEAT!!!
MH: What are you currently working on? Can we look forward to seeing you in anything else in the future?
AH: I’ve actually been costuming again, one will play the Hollyshorts Festival in LA in August, Jameson written and directed by John Humber. I did costumes for last year’s screenwriting winner, The Son, The Father by Lukas Hassel. It’s been cleaning up at the festivals — we have so many laurels we will need another poster! I have been getting into producing as well, all of my years of being a charge nurse made the transition easy! I was executive producer for a short called The Party that has made several Festivals including VampFest in Transylvania! So now you know what that is about. Chris Wyatt, one of the Cascadia Dread production members wrote and directed it. I just fulfilled every horror geeks dream and worked on a Friday the 13th shoot!! Mythos by Brownspace Films, it was a fun set!! Finally, I just started my own production company, ‘Smarticle Productions’ and we will debut during the 48 Hour Film contest. The first “official” film we will produce is Lin’s Ascension by Rakesh Malik, which has a total kickass female lead!!! Casting now!!!
MH: That all sounds so amazing, you’re a very busy person so thank you for finding the time to speak with me, do you have any parting words for our readers?
AH: Always remember, no matter what silly uninformed people may say, Fry Sauce was invented in Idaho.
If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to check out some of our others!