Kyle MacLachlan Thinks Pink
from the 8/11/04 issue of Windy City Times
by Richard Knight, Jr.
MacLachlan at 2004 Sundance screening of Touch of Pink, as iconic Cary Grant in the film
and the movie poster
The rumors are true: Kyle MacLachlan is a tall drink of water. At 6’2,” the square jawed actor doesn’t so much
enter the small interview suite as loom over it. Dressed in neatly pressed blue jeans, a sport coat and striped
shirt, he sits stiffly in a chair and politely answers questions about his career and his new movie, Touch Of
Pink, in which he portrays the ultimate movie playboy, Cary Grant.
MacLachlan’s hair is shot through with gray now, though the face is still that of the young innocents of Dune
and Blue Velvet (even with the addition of the designer frame glasses), while his body language has more
than a little bit of the distracted, perplexed FBI Agent Dale Cooper of "Twin Peaks." The air of reserve that
permeates the room immediately disappears however, when I mention that my brother-in-law’s mother,
Frances Sternhagen, played HIS mother on “Sex In The City.” From that point on, the somewhat reserved
MacLachlan is the chattiest of Cathy’s and before long has his feet up on the coffee table. He even good-
naturedly talks about filming the pool sex scene with Elizabeth Berkley in one of Hollywood’s all time great
KM: Frances (Sternhagen) was the best. Fran was such a pleasure to work with on “Sex In The City,” I kinda
wish that we’d had more to do together because she was such a hoot. She also created an indelible character
and as you know, so completely the opposite of what she is.
WCT: Oh, right.
KM: She’s a grandmother in her Birkenstocks in the garden with her tomatoes.
WCT: So you played kinda of a pussy whipped guy on “Sex In The City” and interestingly, the lead character
in Touch Of Pink is in the same circumstance. What’s the relationship with your own mother like?
KM: My mom was great. She passed away in ’86 and she was very supportive of all three of us – I have two
younger brothers – and was a really loving and kind and supportive mom. She was incredibly creative and a
very special person.
WCT: Interesting. Have to love parental support for a career in the arts.
WCT: So, let’s talk Touch of Pink – how did you get involved?
KM: I was in London doing a play in the West End and I’d read the script and really liked it and thought it was
unusual and problematic in how are you going to make it work. I loved the idea of trying to recreate this Cary
Grant character but how do you do that and I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. Then I met Ian, the
director and the producer and thought they were smart guys and I could tell they really understood the story.
The opportunity to play Cary Grant doesn’t come along very well and I’m kinda known for—
KM: Yeah, taking on the unusual and challenging characters where there’s no net. I thought it would be
worthwhile. This was an ideal working situation.
WCT: Can you talk about playing Cary Grant?
KM: I watched as many films as I could over and over again. I watched Some Like It Hot because Tony Curtis
does a sort of over the top Cary Grant homage in there which was very helpful for me to get his voice, the
pitch, the quality, the rhythm of it. How he would make single syllable words into two syllable words. I
listened to the extreme version, let’s say, that Tony Curtis did and that was helpful.
WCT: So how do I imitate Cary Grant?
KM: He does a lot of sort of dip thongs. I don’t know how to describe it. He’d say (does Cary Grant), “It’s
nice to meet you.” There’s a sense of the English about it but his “T’s” and his “V’s” he sorta changed them
around. It’s more of a feeling. You get into sort of a Cary Grant kind of energy, which goes with his
physicality. I watched the way he moved and began to understand that. I think it had to do with staying in his
light (on camera) (he demonstrates). He had an extraordinary sense of camera and how his face looked on
WCT: Now you’re prepared for the rest of your life, of course, that people are going to say, “Come on, do Cary
Grant” like Frances McDormand will forever have to do “that Fargo accent.”
WM: I don’t mind.
WCT: Did you like playing him?
KM: I loved it; I loved entering into his world and into his chemistry. I didn’t want to leave. It’s just fun and
the dialogue that Ian had written was funny and witty.
WCT: So where on you on the Cary Grant bisexual thing?
KM: I don’t know what to think of that. I know that in the making of the film Ian was less concerned about
Cary’s personal life and much more interested in that cinema persona which is what the character of Alim
needed. He always pulled him straight out of a film when he needed him. Cary seemed to be sort of a
supporter of Alim’s staying in the closet – he was an advocate for that.
WCT: Which was a very interesting subtext in the film.
KM: Yeah and who knows about his past and what was expected of a Hollywood star in those days. But I
think what was sort of charming about it – if you can say that – is that it really was with the intent of trying to
keep him from feeling pain and being hurt and being exposed. That was part of Cary’s care taking
responsibilities for him in the conceit of the relationship. I really just concerned myself more with what I
thought was best for Alim.
WCT: What do you think Cary would say about Touch of Pink?
KM: I’d think he’d approve, I would hope he would approve. One of the qualities about him that you get in his
films is that he’s sort of an observer and I get a feeling that he would observe what was happening in our little
film and he would find it worthwhile.
WCT: I love that whole idea of people learning to emulate how to dress and act from movie stars. And he
certainly represented that. Was there anybody like Cary Grant for you?
KM: No, the older I get, the more I look to my father – not for everything, not guidance so much, but
appreciation for what he’s about. My dad’s a pretty good example. It’s one of things I think that sons come to
that at different ages about their fathers. I’m 45 and I really appreciate what I’ve gleaned, gained, absorbed
from him – whatever. You appreciate it more as you get older. That would be the one for me. I think,
interesting enough, for Cary Grant, he emulated people that he saw around him to try and get that sense of
style – like Douglas Fairbanks, for example. He did Gunga Din partly because it would be with his son –
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. So we all learn from what’s gone on before, don’t we?
WCT: So you know that that bathtub scene’s going to increase your gay fan base, right?
KM: (Laughs) Not much to see in that bathroom scene – I’ve had worse!
WCT: Not unlike Blue Velvet, which started that whole thing off. How do you feel about nude scenes?
KM: Well, it’s fine. It’s kinda funny. In my mind, it’s just part of the job. In Blue Velvet it was necessary,
certainly in Showgirls where it was part of the deal and also in “Sex In The City.” It’s a wonderful place to
play that particular scene. That’s Ian and his genius – you’ve got the moment where he’s coming out to his
mother and saying, “This is who I am” and you’ve set it in the bathroom and he’s carrying a picture of his
boyfriend and his mother’s flossing her teeth and I’m sitting in the bathtub with bubbles. You couldn’t have
more of a potential for comedy and yet it’s a very important and difficult scene. I think those different
elements are what makes the scene and the film work.
WCT: Can you talk just for a minute about Showgirls which I think is one of the greatest unintentional
comedies of all time?
KM: (Laughs) I think the intention was to deliver something that was fairly severe in its tone, certainly.
WCT: When you were shooting it did you realize, “Wait a minute, this is another Valley of the Dolls"?
KM: No, no, that’s the funny thing. Not at all. I was convinced that it was going to be something really
interesting. I wasn’t there every day so I couldn’t really gauge the camp aspect of it that was slowly
beginning to emerge. When I watched the filming of the dance sequences of the giant shows it looked like a
show in Vegas, “God, they’re pretty great” and the scenes that I did with Elizabeth (Berkley) and Gina
(Gershon) seemed to be pretty realistic in nature and fine and then when I saw it I thought, “Oh my God, I
was on a completely different movie.”
WCT: Did you break your pelvis in that pool sex scene?
KM: (Laughs) Oh my God! It was a challenge. But in sort of a way you’re going, “Well, it’s so over the top it
could be great or it could be ugly and violent and horrific.” It turned out to be neither of those – it’s just very,
very funny. What’s great about it is that it has become this cult thing. It’s very entertaining – unintentionally
and has created this who cult following. I say great – if it’s found its value as entertainment which is
ultimately what we’re trying to do I think that’s terrific.
WCT: It’s probably impossible not to interview Kyle MacLachlan and not ask about your relationship with
David Lynch and the incredible collaboration between the two of you.
KM: Yeah, we’ve had a good run.
WCT: Is there any idea that you might work on something again?
KM: Well, we don’t talk about it directly but we’re good friends, we hang out. I see him when I’m in L.A. It’s
one of those things that may come back around again and we might find a vehicle and that would be great if it
did or it may not. I don’t know but I count him as one of my good friends and I’m very privileged to know him;
to be able to call him up and stop by and enter into his world and see what he’s doing. We shared a very sort
of intense first two films with Dune and Blue Velvet and then “Twin Peaks” after that. The things that will
probably be on my tombstone. I’d be very pleased to work with him again.
WCT: What’s next for you?
KM: I’m going to Mexico and work on something with Noah Wylie. It’s actually an action-adventure sort of
thing. He’s the action-adventure guy and I play his nemesis.
WCT: Oh, you get to play a bad guy.
KM: Yeah, I’ve got to the age now where they don’t really know what else to do with me so hopefully I’ll be
able to do something interesting with that. We’ll see.
WCT: Well, you certainly have created a very interesting body of work which is what I cause an actor really
wants to do, right?
KM: Thank you. I don’t know if you start out wanting to do that – I’ve been lucky in that it’s happened. It’s
nice to look back over the last 20 years and go, “Yeah, I’ve actually got a few things in there that are going to
be around for awhile” and some turns and twists that are unexpected and are fun to talk about. I’m pleased
with that – and in another 20 years, we’ll see what happens.
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