I recently had the opportunity to speak with actor Christophe Zajac-Denek, who played Ike the Spike in Twin Peaks Season 3. We were able to discuss several topics, including on-set memories, real punches from Naomi Watts, Lorraine’s death scene, and so much more. I hope you enjoy this enjoyable conversation.
AG: How did you learn about the role in Twin Peaks?
CZD: It was kind of an accident. I submitted to a background role on L.A. castings for a short, stoutly male for an untitled network remake series. It didn’t have Twin Peaks attached to it at all. I was looking for work. It was of the year, and stuff gets really slow at the beginning of the year so I had some time and I was on some background stuff, and then I went in. I sent in a tape to background casting who had requested a couple of things on tape and then I booked the role. Kind of a strange way to get to get that type of role on such an amazing show.
AG: You know there’s such a variety of different casting stories. It’s always interesting for me to hear just because it really is so different for everyone.
CZD: A lot of people went in and had interviews you know, and I made a tape and had it sent to David. I guess mine ended up having to reach beyond the principal casting and went into background casting, but it was pretty awesome to hear that David loved my tape. I was like oh that’s really cool.
AG: What was your first day on set like?
CZD: It was amazing. I showed up and actually had worked with a number of the people from wardrobe in the past on other shows. They were excited to see me, and I was beyond excited to see them because they’re good friends actually from my very first show. It was awesome. I got put into wardrobe, and then my friend Nancy took me by the hand across the set to meet David, and he was just so warm and welcoming. As soon as he saw me, he just “Ike!” and I thought to myself that this is beyond amazing. My first day, I believe, was the scene with Kyle and Naomi beating up on me after I advanced on them with a gun. It kind of got intense — Naomi actually connected (laughs). She’s extremely lovely, but she packs a punch I’ll say that. She felt so sorry, and she was so apologetic, and I was pumped up. I’m like “No, let’s keep going like this. This is awesome; let’s keep doing it. I’m good.” She was looking out for me.
AG: That’s great and a perfect lead up to my next question. I wanted to ask you about your experiences working with those two.
CZD: They are amazing. I don’t know that it gets much better than that. Both of them were super warm and very laid back, chill, and super professional. It’s amazing to just to kind of be around them when you know they’ve worked with David so much and to see how they work with him and it’s all very laid back. Also, you know, everybody’s waiting to see where David goes.
AG: Your other really big scene was the character of Lorraine’s death scene. I recently spoke to Tammie about this, and she went to great detail from a stunt woman’s perspective about this scene. I wanted to get your perspective on filming such a violent, elaborate death scene.
CZD: I am also a stunt person. I hadn’t done weapons work and stuff like that before, but I’ve worked on wires, and I’ve done falls, and I’ve worked with horses, and I’ve done some driving and stuff, but I’d never done anything where I had to stab someone. It definitely was a different headspace. I really had to get myself amped up because it really had to look like I meant to kill her 150 percent. That was definitely different for me. I don’t know how many scenes Tammie had done where she’s been murdered with an object like that. I know she’s been hit by cars and stuff. She’s beyond incredible – a consummate professional as an actress and a stunt woman and just a person in general. She was awesome to work with, and as you can see in the special features, she’s not a dinky flower. I really had to get into the mindset of “I must destroy.” It took a minute, it took a take or two and then I definitely got to that place, and I was exhausted by the end of that day. Unlike anything I’ve ever done, that was a different type of exhausting.
AG: Those two scenes we just discussed remain two of the most talked about scenes of the entire 18 hours for different reasons. The scene with Kyle and Naomi had longtime Twin Peaks fans ecstatic because it felt like it could be the beginning of the return of the character of Agent Cooper they were familiar with. The critical reaction to your scene with Tammie was more of the “This is not quite the Twin Peaks that I’m used to.” What was that like for you as an actor to be involved in two scenes that are still very talked about to this day?
CZD: I feel honored. I felt honored to get hired for the job just as a background person and then getting to be in those scenes. I mean having that experience is an incredible one to have. For that to be the first time, I do something like rush in with a gun and get beat up and have to run away and then you know graphically stab someone, up close and personal. I’m beyond honored, and I’m so thrilled and happy that I got to be as gruesome and talked about. Roles for little people if I can kind of get my toe into that, very rarely do you get to see a little person in a role like this. That too makes me extremely humble and extremely honored. I’m not in a costume. I’m not you know, kicking someone in the shins or punching them in the nuts. I have a pretty honorable role, and I’m so grateful for that.
AG: It does follow in the legacy of the original series where the character known as the Little Man From Another Place was also not treated as comedic relief. He was a very serious role and one of the most iconic roles in the entire series.
CZD: Right. Yeah exactly.
AG: Something else that followed in a David Lynch tradition is your character’s teeth. It was very reminiscent of Willem Dafoe from Wild at Heart. There’s a DVD extra where Dafoe goes into great detail about his character’s teeth and David’s excitement over it and then the process of having the teeth prepared for him. What was that like for you?
CZD: I’ve worn prosthetic teeth before and these were the best ones I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of a strange thing. You go and get your mouth molded and then when you arrive on set there’s a set of super ugly teeth. Again, I think it’s super cool. Totally honored that I got to wear something like that because I’ve done I’ve done stuff where I’m wearing kind of pointy almost vampire style, razor teeth or something like that you know. This was really cool to have something that looked very real and true and really gave away what the character’s lifestyle was like.
AG: Exactly. It gave you such a menacing vicious presence, just right off the rip.
CZD: Thank you. That’s what I’m going for in my practice of dental care (laughs), actually, in my own personal dental care.
AG: You mentioned meeting David and that initial impression. What was it like working with him?
CZD: It was so awesome. He is the best person I’ve ever worked with in my entire career. He’s very creative, very direct and he’s funny. You can have a great time and create rapport with everyone that he works with. It’s kind of a dream. You know, I definitely felt like the new man on the block coming in and I left being a part of a family. I never had to be told “Hey listen, make sure you watch this or that David has a certain way,” it’s just like he’s a person. He’s lovely, and he’s awesome, and I would be so honored to work with him again.
AG: Did he give you any kind of background on your character? How did he pitch the character to you?
CZD: I don’t think I can actually talk about that just yet. Yeah, I’ll leave it at that actually.
AG: One thing I always like to ask is about on set stories. The relationships, the funny stories, all the things that viewers don’t get to see but love hearing about. Any stories you would care to share?
CZD: One amazing thing, and I think this kind of enhances why I loved working with David so much is that I’ve worked with so many directors in the past that was not David Lynch. When you’re wrapped, I’ll have to get out of makeup or something like that and then you know they’ve moved on. It’s just “Christophe has wrapped, and it’s time to go.” When you work with David Lynch, it doesn’t matter if you have one word or if you work on the entire show, whenever you’re wrapped you’re treated the same way. As I said, I felt like the new kid on the block coming into this, and when I wrapped, he got on the megaphone and announced to everyone “Hey everybody, that’s a wrap on Christophe,” and then he instructs everyone to stop their work and everybody applauds for you. Everybody applauds for the production. Everybody gives hugs; they say goodbye, exchange information. I made so many amazing friends on that show and having a goodbye like that, that wasn’t just an over the shoulder glancing like yeah, “Keep in touch.” It made me feel so valued, and it was inspiring. It was. It was great. It wasn’t just somebody who came in to do a couple of things on the show and then you know we’ll see you around. It was very professional and very warm.
AG: I continue to be amazed by seeing the camaraderie among the cast and crew. You guys wrapped filming a few years ago now, yet constantly I’m seeing social media photos of you guys together, and then actors tell me in interviews about your cast dinners and other functions.
CZD: It’s so cool. People supporting each other. I’ll go out and see Josh Fadem do comedy in L.A. Larry Clark also did comedy in the Roadhouse Pop Up Bar in Hollywood, and it was so cool because you know everybody’s coming out and supporting and hanging out. I don’t know if Tammie told you this, but we go out regularly. Just the two of us to these functions to see Josh perform or go to the Bang Bang Bar or something and we’d get a drink you know before the event that we were going to see. We just thought it was really hilarious, Ike and Lorraine hanging out and people would recognize us and they’d be like “Oh my gosh this is so amazing.” Tammie is so incredible with fans. She will take a million photos and loves that element of it, and I say I’m the same way. She’s the one that’s going to make sure that your picture looks perfect and she’s got those skills. It’s so much fun. It’s great.
AG: What do you think the legacy of the show will be?
CZD: I don’t know. I think the fans keep it alive. I think it’s going to be kept alive forever. I was in Santa Monica at this store, and I was buying a couple of things, and there was a 19-year-old gal at the checkout counter. I brought my items, and she had an Agent Cooper pin and then a Twin Peaks button as well. This was maybe a couple of months after I had wrapped. Couldn’t say anything whatsoever about my involvement, not that I would have, but the NDA was super fresh at that point. This 19-year-old girl, I asked her, “So you’re a fan of Twin Peaks?” and she’s like “Oh my gosh, I love the show. It’s so good” so I’m like “Are you excited for the new seasons to come out?” She said she couldn’t wait; it’s going to be so awesome.
The fans keep it alive. It’s incredible that the people that I’ve encountered. I’ve been out to lunch in L.A. at this place I go to all the time for sandwiches, and this younger gal was taking my order. She’s like “I’ve seen you in here so many times. I’m such a huge fan of Twin Peaks,” and I’m like “Sweet, let’s get a photo.” I think it’s going to last. I would absolutely love it if there were another season. That would be incredible. I would love to be a part of it in any way I possibly can.
AG: I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’s another season as well. Anything you’re working on now that you can talk about?
CZD: I have a project that should be coming out soon on YouTube. It’s a bigger production and it’s kind of in line with some major pop culture stuff that’s happening now. That’s kind of all I can say about it now, but I will definitely update when I can.
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