Twin Peaks and Star Trek both boast huge, devoted followings: fans who will watch every episode (or movie) multiple times, read every book that’s written on the subject (especially but not exclusively if it’s written by an insidet), go to conventions, cosplay, and speculate endlessly about what will and should come next. While Trek fans are in limbo at the moment, waiting to see if there really will be a fourth Kelvin Universe movie, and waiting for Star Trek: Discovery in September, Twin Peaks fans are about to hit paydirt.
Co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost have revived the series, with 18 new episodes hitting Showtime on May 21. Almost all of the cast are returning–exceptions include Piper Laurie, Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, and Jack Nance (who died in 1996)–and some new names have been added to the list.
Trek and Peaks have a lot more in common than ardent fan bases, it turns out; a lot of actors have made their way from one franchise to the other. It makes sense, when you think about it, as Lynch has a penchant for casting interesting, quirky actors and Trek always had an endless need for aliens and strong personalities. Weird worlds collide: here are 16 Actor Crossovers Between Twin Peaks and Star Trek.
16. Robert Knepper
Robert Knepper is probably best known as “T-Bag,” leader of the Aryan gang, pedophile, and all around awful person, in the original Prison Break, the recent revival, and A&E’s short lived series Breakout Kings. Now, he’ll be turning up in the new Twin Peaks, although there’s so much secrecy around what the new actors are doing that we don’t know anything about who he’s playing yet, or have a photo of him in it. He’s contributed to the series before, though, providing a voice on the audiobook version of Mark Frost’s, “The Secret History of Twin Peaks,” a book meant to prime viewers for the Showtime series and give hungry fans something to chew on while they wait.
Knepper played two roles on Star Trek: He was (temporarily) Deanna Troi’s fiance Wyatt in the Next Generation episode “Haven,” a good guy in the wrong pre-arranged relationship, and then Gaul, an evil Vaadwaur on Star Trek: Voyager who tried to take over the ship by falsely promising to help Voyager find a subspace corridor that would speed up their journey back to earth.
15. Ashley Judd
Like Knepper, Divergent series star Ashley Judd is also in the Twin Peaks revival and has us completely in the dark about who she’s playing. But on Star Trek: The Next Generation, she played one of the most memorable guest characters in the series, turning up in two different episodes as Ensign Robin Lefler.
Lefler had her first appearance in “Darmok,” and the writers liked her, so they kept looking for another script they could fit her into. Along came “The Game,” and an easy way to make the much-unliked Wesley Crusher a little hipper, for his first visit to the Enterprise after joining Starfleet Academy. Lefler not only falls for Wesley, she helps him save the ship from an addictive, Pokémon Go-type game that almost results in a hostile takeover of the Enterprise. She had her very first on-screen kiss (with Wil Wheaton) in that episode, and years later, there were rumors that she was going to play Wesley’s wife in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, but nothing ever came of it.
14. Miguel Ferrer
When Miguel Ferrer showed up on Twin Peaks as belligerent, caustic forensics specialist Albert Rosenfield, he oozed contempt for everyone in town. He then revealed his true nature in this memorable speech: “While I will admit to a certain cynicism, the fact is that I am a naysayer and hatchetman in the fight against violence. I pride myself in taking a punch and I’ll gladly take another because I choose to live my life in the company of Gandhi and King. My concerns are global. I reject absolutely revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method… is love. I love you Sheriff Truman.” Ferrer described that speech as the best one he’d ever get in his entire acting life.
He got no such monologues in his small role in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but he didn’t care; he was a huge Star Trek fan who got a thrill out of spending his one day on set being directed by Leonard Nimoy, a childhood hero.
13. Michael J. Anderson
Michael J. Anderson’s first TV role was as The Man From Another Place on Twin Peaks, a dwarf who danced in the black lodge (and Dale Cooper’s dreams) and had a bizarre speech pattern. When Anderson was in junior high school, he and his friends used phonetically reversed speaking as a secret language, so he did the same for Twin Peaks: his dialogue was recorded and played backwards, and Anderson synced his lips to the reverse recording. He taught the other actors how to do it, too, and that’s how everyone spoke in the black lodge.
He often gets cast as a dwarf, although he isn’t one; he has a genetic disorder called osteogenesis imperfecta, that causes frequent broken bones and improper healing. He played a dwarf on Carnivale for two seasons, and twelve years before that, was one of the most famous dwarves in fictional history, Rumpelstiltskin. In a Deep Space Nine episode called “If Wishes Were Horses,” figures from the crew’s imaginations came to life, so Rumpelstiltskin appeared after Miles O’Brien read a fairy tale to his daughter Molly.
12. Catherine E. Coulson
In 1977, while they were working together on Eraserhead, David Lynch and Catherine Coulson started talking about a character called The Log Lady, and decades later, they brought her to life on Twin Peaks. She became so popular that when Bravo bought the syndication rights, Lynch shot a series of short segments featuring the Log Lady introducing each episode. Coulson revived her character for the reboot before she died in 2015. She kept the log for many years and brought it to Twin Peaks conventions, frequently turning down offers to sell it, and eventually getting told she could no longer take it on airplanes because it had bludgeon potential.
In addition to being an actress, Coulson also worked behind the scenes, and was first assistant camera on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, working closely with director Nicholas Meyer, who made his behind-the-scenes photos available as part of the Papers of Nicholas Meyer Collection at the University of Iowa Libraries.
11. David Warner
David Warner showed up in season two of Twin Peaks, playing Thomas Eckhardt. He comes to town to torment Josie Packard, but–spoiler alert!–Josie ends up shooting him dead, then dies mysteriously and gets trapped in a wooden knob on a nightstand. He’s only in a few episodes, but his presence looms large, and oozes menace.
Always unforgettable, Warner has turned up on Star Trek three times. He was Ambassador St. John Talbot in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and then played Gul Madred in the Next Generation episode “Chain of Command.” Madred tortured Captain Jean-Luc Picard both physically and psychologically in a gripping two-parter, implanting a device in his chest that caused pain at the touch of a button, refused him food or water, and tormented him, 1984-style, into saying (and thinking) he saw five lights when there were only four.
10. David L. Lander
Like many of Twin Peaks‘ denizens, David L. Lander’s Tim Pinkle was a man of many talents. He first appears as a home care salesman, selling Shelley Johnson & boyfriend Bobby a “Port-O-Patient” mechanized chair for Leo, but turns out to also be a taxidermist, pine weasel expert, and dance choreographer.
On Star Trek: The Next Generation, he played a Ferengi (alongside Armin Shimerman, on his left, who would go on to play Quark on Deep Space Nine) in “Peak Performance.” His character didn’t even have a name, and is identified only as the tactical officer, but his familiar voice places him instantly.
Of course, Lander is most famous for playing Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley, which makes it important to point out that his best bud Lenny also made his mark on Star Trek. He played The Clown in an excellent, terrifying Voyager episode called “The Thaw.” So far, no Laverne or Shirley, but there’s a new series in the works so never say never.
9. John Billingsley
Shrouded in mystery like Ashley Judd and Robert Knepper, John Billingsley will appear in the new Twin Peaks and that’s all the information that’s out there. All we know is that he knows both of them; he and Judd were both in the 2002 movie High Crimes, and he had a recurring role on Prison Break.
As for Star Trek, Billingsley played the Denobulan physician Dr. Phlox, Chief Medical Officer, on Enterprise for its four season run. Denobulans have multiple spouses, so Phlox had three wives, each of whom had three husbands. While the ship did have a Vulcan aboard, Phlox was probably the more Spock-like character, not in terms of his emotions, but as the alien who served as a somewhat objective observer of the humans who made up most of the crew.
Since Phlox wasn’t necessary for every single episode, Billingsley had some time to freelance while the show was still in production, and most memorably, popped up in a Stargate SG-1 episode playing an obsessed Trekkie scientist who worshipped, he said, at the “altar of Roddenberry.”
8. Meg Foster
Meg Foster’s piercing pale blue eyes make her a natural for both franchises, and were dubbed “the eyes of 1979” by Mademoiselle magazine. Most recently seen in Pretty Little Liars, Foster has been tapped for the new Twin Peaks, but of course, that’s all we know about it.
On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, she was Onaya, who offered to help Jake Sisko with his writer’s block. She seemed to be acting as an inspiration, but she was actually draining all of his energy. Onayawas a non-corporeal being who helped artists live on through their work, but sped up their deaths by absorbing their life force. D’oh.
While the episode was considered one of the weaker ones of the series by the production team, their distaste for it didn’t include Foster’s performance, which producer René Echevarria called “perfection.” Indeed, she’d been sought out specifically for the role by executive producer Ira Steven Behr, who said, “she’s so seductive and interesting. You know, you can fall inside those eyes.”
7. Wendy Robie
Nadine Hurley rarely had a moment’s peace on Twin Peaks. Wendy Robie’s character was the drape runner-obsessed wife of Ed Hurley, who had married her despite the fact that he was was really in love with Norma. When her patent for silent drape runners was denied, she overdosed on pills, and went into a coma. Upon awakening, she’d lost most of her memory and thought she was a high schooler again … and gained super strength. Right at the end of the series, she got her memory back. We’ll get an update on her in the revival, when she returns along with Big Ed (Everett McGill) and Norma (Peggy Lipton).
Robie is generally known for playing eccentrics and weirdos: she and McGill co-starred in the Wes Craven horror flick The People Under The Stairs, and she also turned up in Craven’s Vampire in Brooklyn.
She got to play it straight on Deep Space Nine as Ulani Belor, a Cardassian scientist assigned to the space station to help establish a permanent link through the wormhole.
6. Brenda Strong
Brenda Strong had a small but memorable role in Twin Peaks as Jones, assistant to Thomas Eckhardt. The last time we saw her, she’d been caught impersonating Josie (with help from a hallucination-causing substance) and trying to strangle Sheriff Truman, and was taken off to jail.
Strong was in a not-very-good first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “When The Bough Breaks,” the only Star Trek episode directed by The X-Files‘ Kim Manners. She played Rashella, who, along with her people, kidnapped several children from the Enterprise because they couldn’t have any of their own. It was a bit a of a throwback episode reminiscent of the original series, as her people were being more or less ruled by a computer called the Custodian, and the Enterprise frees them of their dependence on it AND cures the radiation poisoning that’s making them infertile.
Strong’s been on TV since her 1985 appearance on St. Elsewhere, and these days she’s playing the evil Lillian Luthor, mother of Lena (and Lex, of course), on Supergirl.
5. Clarence Williams III
The Mod Squad reunites! Well, sort of. Twin Peaks regular Peggy Lipton co-starred with Clarence Williams III in The Mod Squad, a hit series that featured a trio of the hip, young undercover cops who solved crimes while still managing to exude a counterculture vibe. So when Williams was hired for a guest role on Twin Peaks as an FBI agent sent to investigate Agent Cooper for his unorthodox tactics rescuing Audrey Horne from One-Eyed Jack’s, the writers made sure he made a stop at the Double R diner. He had some pie and a brief exchange with his former co-star.
On Deep Space Nine, he played Omet’iklan, a Jem’Hadar soldier who briefly bonds with Sisko, and kills Weyoun. (Well, Weyoun the first; Weyoun had a lot of clones.) Williams was brought in by the episode’s director LeVar Burton. “He’s an old friend of mine, but we’d never worked together before,” Burton said. “This was just an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, CW, you want to come and do this thing?'”
4. Richard Beymer
As Benjamin Horne, Richard Beymer was alternately callous, joyful, ruthless, charismatic, calculating, and sometimes downright silly. He owned the Great Northern Hotel as well as One Eyed Jack’s, he was father to Audrey Horne, lover of Catherine Martell (although he later betrayed her), conspirator with both Leo Johnson and Josie Packard, business parter with his brother, random philanthropist … it just keeps going. It’s hard to imagine anyone else as Ben, despite the fact that Beymer was initally supposed to play Dr. Jacoby. (Instead, Jacoby was played by Beymer’s West Side Story co-star Russ Tamblyn.) At the end of the series, when the unit publicist stopped showing up to take photos, Beymer took them himself, with permission from David Lynch. And yes, he’ll be in the revivial.
He got to play a much more noble character in the Star Trek franchise, where he took on the role of Li Nalas for three episodes of Deep Space Nine. (They would have had him on longer, but they couldn’t afford him.) Li was a former leader of the Bajoran resistance, rescued from a prison camp by Kira and O’Brien, who prevents a coup and saves Sisko’s life, but loses his own in the process. A hero to the end.
3. Carel Struycken
The first time Carel Struycken met David Lynch to talk about playing the Giant in Dale Cooper’s dreams, Lynch walked up to him, shook his hand, and told him, “Everything’s just gonna be peachy keen!” This fits in well with co-creator Mark Frost’s description of Lynch, that “…he’s a cross between Jimmy Stewart and Salvador Dali.”
Struyken loved playing the Giant, and even before he was confirmed for the revival, he gave interviews saying he hoped to be asked to return, and figured he probably would. He was right.
Struycken is still regular on the convention circuit, for Twin Peaks cons and Star Trek ones, where he is always welcomed as the man who played Mr. Homn, Lwaxana’s Troi’s mostly silent valet, whose eyes and facial expressions spoke volumes even though he only had one line of dialogue in all of his appearances, when he politely told Captain Picard, “Thank you for the drinks.”
2. Ray Wise
SPOILER INSIDE for those who haven’t seen the original Twin Peaks.
While it’s hard to imagine Twin Peaks without Ray Wise’s Leland Palmer, it’s also hard to imagine it with him, since Leland died shortly after it was revealed that he–while possessed by Bob–had killed Laura. And yet he’s back, in all eighteen episodes. Since we last got a glimpse of him in the Black Lodge in the original series finale, the possibilities seem endless. Fun fact: Wise originally was up for the role of Sheriff Truman.
Wise has officially turned up on Star Trek twice. He was Next Generation‘s “Who Watches The Watchers,” as a Mintakan named Liko–a “dense Vulcan,” according to Wise–who believed Picard was a god. He and Jonathan Frakes (Riker) were old friends, having done theater together back in the 70s, so he had a great time doing the show. Nine years later, he guest starred on Voyager in “Hope and Fear” as a vengeful alien called Arturis, who tried to get the entire Voyager crew assimilated by the Borg.
Wise also popped up in a fan film (that hasn’t come out yet) called Star Trek: Captain Pike, even introducing the fundraising video on Kickstarter.
1. Madchen Amick
These days she’s not playing the ingenue anymore, but Madchen Amick is just as gorgeous as ever, and could probably get away with it. Currently on Riverdale as Betty Cooper’s mom Alice–yes, Alice Cooper–she made her first TV appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation and got her first regular cast member opportunity on Twin Peaks.
On Twin Peaks, both the original and the revival, she’s Shelly Johnson. Shelly was a waitress at the Double R Diner who was married to the dangerous Leo Johnson, lovers with high schooler Bobby Briggs, and good friend to diner owner Norma Jennings. In the final episode of season two, husband Leo is still stuck in a trap built by Windom Earle, and Bobby has just proposed marriage. The revival picks up 25 years later, so there’s a lot to catch up on where Shelly is concerned.
On TNG, she was one of the incarnations of Anya, a shapeshifting protector of Salia, who was traveling back to her homeworld on the Enterprise. Anya was also a stern old woman, a furry and friendly animal, and a large angry creature, but Amick’s version of her was a friendly teenage girl who Salia could confide in.
There are even more crossover actors in smaller roles. Gavan O’Herlihy (who briefly played forgotten brother Chuck Cunningham on Happy Days), was a briefly seen as a Mountie on Twin Peaks and played a Kazon on Star Trek: Voyager. Tony Jay was Dougie Milford on Peaks and Campio, who almost married Lwaxana Troi, on TNG. Ron Taylor, who was Bleeding Gums Murphy on The Simpsons, was Nadine’s wrestling coach on Twin Peaks and a Klingon chef (yes, chef) in two episodes of Deep Space Nine.
There are more! Let us know who we missed in the comments.
The new Twin Peaks premieres on Showtime on May 21. Star Trek fans are waiting on the fate of a new movie, and will see Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access in September.
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