I was obsessed with two things in the early ’90s: Twin Peaks and video games. Now, 30 years later, I still am. What year is it? Doesn’t matter. I’m always going to love those two things. That’s why I was elated when Amy Shiels graciously and enthusiastically agreed to an interview.
I, like many Twin Peaks fans, follow the cast and crew on Twitter. They are a very engaging group of people who appreciate the fans, and seem to feel legitimately blessed to be a part of something so wonderful and strange.
While Peaks fans know Amy Shiels as Candie, she is a talented, versatile actress who, among other roles, also does voice work in video games, most notably as Lunafreya in Final Fantasy XV. We discussed Candie, acting, and the power of gaming culture.
25YL: I’ve read an article where you said how you were cast in Twin Peaks, so I wanted to ask what it was like meeting David Lynch for the first time, and in what context did you meet?
AMY SHIELS: First time I met David was when Johanna Ray [casting director for Twin Peaks] introduced us at The Missing Pieces premiere. I’d heard so much about him, knew his work, was an admirer of his talent. It was moving to see how close he and Johanna were—and still are.
When Jo said, “Amy is Irish,” David replied, “I’m Irish!” That moment I instantly became a fan of him as a human, too. What a lovely way to put someone at ease.
25YL: I’m Irish too. This is going to go aces, I can already tell. So, I’m sure you get asked a lot about the “remote control” scene from Twin Peaks, and rightly so! But I found the scene revealed a lot about the relationship between Candie and the Mitchum Bros. The two preceding scenes involved violence against women, and the fact yours stays comical says a lot about the dynamic. How did you see Candie? She is something of an enigma.
AMY SHIELS: Playing Candie has been a major highlight of my career. I see her as a gift that’s led me to other worlds and new friendships. Playing her gave me a chance to work in a creative way I’ve not been given the opportunity to play in before. She makes me look at the little things in life with positive, dewy eyes.
It took a universe to make Candie. David and Mark’s writing, David’s incredible direction, David’s costume ideas brought to life by Nancy Steiner, Clare Corsick’s hair (which took over an hour a day), Debbie Zoller’s makeup. Then the incredible case I was surrounded by, the sets we walked through, the props we played with. It’s not a village, it’s a Universe.
25YL: That’s something I think gets overlooked about season 3 is how positive it is. There’s a lot of darkness and violence, but there’s also love and understanding.
The way a lot of scenes played out that season, things took their time. Was there ever a moment where you thought, ‘This is going to be one continuous shot of me tracking a fly?’
AMY SHIELS: For me, the joy is in the work. From prepping an audition, learning the lines, figuring out who the character is, to booking the job, meeting your new set family, being on set, and playing the part. What ends up on screen is out of our hands. Seeing it is a bonus.
25YL: I have a non-fully fleshed out theory that Candie is much like Cooper, perhaps a little further along in her journey. Twin Peaks fans love to dissect and analyze and put forth theories. Did you ever create any mythology for Candie?
AMY SHIELS: My creative process usually involves coming up with a back story, and other conversations/thoughts in my mind other than what is on the page. That’s just for me though.
25YL: I like that though. It gives your dialogue a deeper meaning. The words come from a more specific, truer place.
AMY SHIELS: Thank you. It’s human. I believe the majority of our species are constantly thinking lots of thoughts we are not saying out loud when talking or listening.
25YL: So let me ask you, what would you consider a dream role?
AMY SHIELS: Candie was my dream role. I’m so grateful for everything that came with playing her. I was wishing time to stand still. I would kill to play a country music singer with a difficult past and a challenging future. [It] would finally put to use the years and years of singing into a bottle and dancing around anywhere there is music.
I’d like to play a seemingly innocent character who is actually working for the other side. And I always love having to learn a new skill for a role. I once had to learn how to play the cello in 2 weeks to make it look like I was the best cellist in the world. It was insane, but we did it.
It would be a dream to expand on a version of the Australian character I play on The Detour or to play an inner-city Dublin girl. Something about playing those broad accents lights me up inside. I immediately feel “on.”
25YL: Accents must help to always be “present” in the scene. You can’t become complacent.
AMY SHIELS: Accents change everything. It’s not just a voice, it’s your entire molecular makeup. Then think about where a person is from. If they grew up in a freezing cold climate they probably speak quicker, with fewer words to save energy. Growing up in the South you might speak slower, more drawn out because of the lazy, hazy heat. These things affect your body movement.
25YL: So, I’m the managing editor of gaming here, so I’d be remiss not to ask about your voice work in the Final Fantasy and Call of Duty series’. Do you enjoy voice work? Is it very similar to acting, or is there a different style to it? Like transitioning from the theatre to scripted TV.
AMY SHIELS: The world of video games is sensational and incredibly different from film and television. I find it has an entirely different feel.
25YL: Did you work with other actors in a booth, or is it a solitary thing?
AMY SHIELS: The people I’ve worked with on games have been chill. Usually, we are working with engineers, directors and writers. I’ve yet to be in the booth with another actor.
Every sentence is read twice, even large chunks of script are broken down line by line. Sometimes that’s a struggle, especially with Luna [her character in Final Fantasy XV] as she has some beautiful, touching monologues and I want to do the best job for the gamers.
25YL: That must be difficult to maintain a flow or rhythm going line by line like that. It’s a testament to voice actors.
AMY SHIELS: Gamer fans, in my humble opinion, are the most loyal, interested fans there are. Generally speaking, TV and film fans are more interested in the actors, some care to know more about the directors, and very few go further than that. Gamers seem to want to know everything about the game they are playing and the world it is set in. Cosplay is magic to see.
25YL: The best part of what I do here is that I can contact people behind the scenes and kind of pick their brains and ask them all kinds of nerdy questions, and I feel like I’m peeking behind the curtain.
I’ve only been to one comic convention to meet Peter Capaldi, from Doctor Who, and that was my only real exposure to cosplay, but the imagination and thought that goes into it was amazing.
AMY SHIELS: I can’t express properly just how much I love being around the game community as I have serious addiction issues and know I’ll just get vacuumed into a game and not come out for days!
I’ve been working on my own video game show for a couple of years now and it’s beginning to take shape. I’m making it because of my love for the game community. I hope they will like it.
Going to San Diego Comic Con for Twin Peaks was when I finally decided to make the esports show. Almost everyone in the city was in cosplay! People working in stores, salons, restaurants even. We were there for TP fans, however, I’m lucky there is a broad crossover with FFXV fans too. Seeing Candies and Lunas makes my year.
25YL: That has got to be a badass moment, to see that. I was an ’80s kid so I remember Twin Peaks when it aired, and playing Final Fantasy on my NES and SNES. There is major crossover appeal.
AMY SHIELS: Esports is the fastest growing sport of all time. These athletes work as hard as any other athlete. The community is global, and almost anyone can play at an amateur level. No one needs to worry about being a popular or unpopular kid who doesn’t get picked for the team. It’s an inclusive sport and the ultimate diverse sport. You don’t even have to know the gender of the player. One can be as private or public as one wants.
The best moment was in an elevator for a FFXV convention. It was jam-packed with cosplayers in varying FFXV costumes. I was on my way to talk on stage when after I complimented one of the girls in the elevator for her costume, she invited me to “this gamer convention” they were going to. When she saw me later we had a good giggle about it. Again, inclusive community.
25YL: It reminds me of those people that always say “you should come along” to the new kid. It wasn’t like that when I was a kid. I do think the world is becoming more inclusive now. People are realizing that everyone is stressed and worried and sad, so why don’t we just try to be nice to each other. I realize that wanders into cheesiness, but in moderation I think it’s a pretty good way to be.
AMY SHIELS: I love cheese. The cheesier the better.
25YL: I just wrote a review of a game about the 1980s [198X] and it was so cheesy and sincere, and I loved it.
AMY SHIELS: Recently I met an Uber driver who was sent to London from China when he was 12. He went to school there, then straight to Los Angeles for college. He said playing League of Legends is the only way he makes friends because people don’t look up from their phones and don’t talk to him.
25YL: Yeah, our phones are isolating us in a weird way. The old “we’re getting more disconnected the more we connect online” theory. It’s true. It’s sort of removing a bit of our humanity in a way.
AMY SHIELS: Or perhaps our humanity is changing. Go with the flow.
25YL: Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. The Twin Peaks and FFXV community love you to pieces. Best of luck—not that us Irish need it—in the future.
AMY SHIELS: Thank you so much for your kind words, thoughtful questions, and support! Wishing you more happiness than ever this year.
Featured photograph by Candice Ghia – Instagram @ candiceghaiphotography