Family & Companions
Plucked from obscurity, clean-cut Kyle MacLachlan became a movie star overnight when he landed the lead in the epic space opera "Dune" (1984), but the film's disastrous critical reception nearly consigned him to the role of "has been" just as quickly. Luckily for MacLachlan, he had a guardian angel in David Lynch, the visionary director who had cast him in the adaptation of the classic science fiction novel. Lynch would give MacLachlan the starring role in his next film, "Blue Velvet" (1986) and a lead role on the surrealistic television series "Twin Peaks" (ABC, 1990-91). The former would eventually be regarded as a cinematic masterpiece, while the latter became an instant sensation during its first season. Big box office success, however, continued to elude MacLachlan with overlooked vehicles like the sci-fi thriller "The Hidden" (1987) and Oliver Stone's Jim Morrison biopic "The Doors" (1991), as well as co-starring in the laughing stock that was "Showgirls" (1995), which later developed a rabid cult following. MacLachlan would make a modest return to notoriety on television with recurring parts as the wealthy, impotent husband of Charlotte York on "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004), and later on Marc Cherry's campy "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-12). While MacLachlan became known as a respected working actor, continuing to appear in film and episodic television, a sense of unfinished business remained for years, until Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost announced "Twin Peaks: The Return" (Showtime 2017), a complex and at times divisive "movie in 18 parts" that featured MacLachlan in multiple roles associated with his signature character of FBI special agent Dale Cooper.
Born Feb. 22, 1959 in Yakima, WA, MacLachlan attended Eisenhower High School prior to graduating from the University of Washington's Professional Actor Training Program in 1982. After the requisite stint in summer stock, he joined Seattle's Empty Space Theater for a mounting of "Tartuffe" later that year when suddenly everything changed for the young actor. Idiosyncratic director David Lynch was conducting a nationwide audition for the lead in his big-budget adaptation of Frank Herbert's classic science fiction tome, Dune. Adopting a "what have I got to lose" attitude, MacLachlan tried out for the part, reading a few lines on video tape. Lynch clearly liked what he saw, as MacLachlan - who had never before acted on screen - was soon cast in the epic fantasy film. "Dune" (1984) was a lavish feast for the eyes, but critical and box office reception was poor, with many critics viewing MacLachlan's debut performance as stilted and lacking the gravitas the role demanded. "Dune" would go on to achieve a degree of cult status, but upon its release was considered a spectacular failure. Despite the film's disappointing reception, David Lynch had found in MacLachlan a leading man with whom he wanted to collaborate again.
In "Blue Velvet" (1986), Lynch's neo-noir journey into the rotten underbelly of American suburbia, MacLachlan played college student-turned-amateur sleuth, Jeffrey Beaumont. The violent, surrealistic thriller starring Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini shocked and offended many critics and theater goers alike upon its release. Over time, however, it would go on to be considered by many to be the pinnacle of Lynch's career as well as one of the most influential films of the 1980s. It was on the set of "Blue Velvet" that MacLachlan met co-star Laura Dern, daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, with whom he would remain romantically involved until the end of the decade. With his next project MacLachlan stepped out from under the wing of Lynch, starring in the sci-fi thriller "The Hidden" (1987) as an intergalactic lawman disguised as an FBI agent sent to capture an alien criminal capable of inhabiting host bodies here on earth. MacLachlan followed with the television family drama "Dream Breakers" (CBC, 1989), and the barely seen romantic comedy "Don't Tell Her It's Me" (1990) before reteaming with David Lynch to create his most indelible character - oddly enough as another quirky FBI agent.
Co-created with Mark Frost, the television series "Twin Peaks" (ABC, 1990-91) found Lynch revisiting the theme of darkness lurking just under the surface in small-town U.S.A., viewed though the prism of his surrealistic lens. As Special Agent Dale Cooper, the eager, super-efficient FBI man with a weakness for non sequiturs, cherry pie and a "damn fine cup of coffee," MacLachlan blossomed as an actor, his former rigidness becoming stylish and engagingly goofy. In a show populated by weird characters and bizarre happenings, Cooper provided a likable and reassuring anchor. Although canceled after its second season, "Twin Peaks" was an instant pop culture phenomenon. After "Twin Peaks," MacLachlan returned to the big screen with another director as accomplished as he was controversial. In Oliver Stone's rock history lesson "The Doors" (1991), he portrayed keyboardist Ray Manzarek, the pragmatic band mate of Val Kilmer's self-destructive Jim Morrison. As a vehicle for MacLachlan's career, it failed to produce the desired result of elevating his status in Hollywood.
The next year saw MacLachlan taking a small part in the teenage runaway melodrama "Where the Day Takes You" (1992), co-starring his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, Lara Flynn Boyle. The same year there was also an extended cameo, reviving his role as Agent Cooper, in the prequel "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" (1992), which chronicled the days leading up to the brutal murder of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). The film, plagued with problems from the start - not the least of which being MacLachlan's reluctance to participate in the project - was poorly received by both critics and fans of the enigmatic series, although as the years went on, its stylized and dreamlike atmosphere found a new audience. Equally commercially disappointing was the Harold Pinter-scripted adaptation of Franz Kafka's "The Trial" (1993), with MacLachlan starring as Josef K, an Everyman accused of an unspecified crime. In 1993, MacLachlan was given the opportunity to direct an episode of the horror anthology "Tales from the Crypt" (HBO, 1989-1996), with a tawdry tale of a jealous husband's plot to murder his wife's secret lover. MacLachlan's next appearance in a feature film was in "The Flintstones" (1994), a live-action rendering of the beloved cartoon. In it, MacLachlan played Cliff Vandercave, a sleazy Neolithic yuppie bent on framing Fred in a stone-age embezzlement scheme. If "The Flintstones" seemed like an unlikely choice for the eclectic actor to take part in, MacLachlan's next project would be truly jaw-dropping - and for all the wrong reasons.
"Showgirls" (1995) told the rags-to-riches-to-rags story of Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley), a beautiful, young drifter who finds herself thrust into the world of Las Vegas glitz, sex and power. As Zack Carey, the ambitious entertainment director at a major resort, MacLachlan oozed a sort of reptilian charm, providing the NC-17 rated film with one of its more lascivious moments when Zack and Nomi loudly, almost comically make love in his swimming pool. Directed by Paul Verhoeven from a script by Joe Esterhaus, the film was given a vicious drubbing by the critics. "Showgirls" later achieved cult status, with the likes of Quentin Tarantino regarding it as one of the few examples of enjoyable big-budget exploitation. MacLachlan next starred in the under-seen "The Trigger Effect" (1996) alongside Elisabeth Shue and Dermot Mulroney. Written and directed by David Koepp, the film explored man's tenuous grasp on civility when a massive power blackout lasts for several days. Perhaps a victim of preconceived notions, the slow-burn drama was not the apocalyptic survival thriller people were expecting, and the film quickly disappeared from theaters.
MacLachlan rounded out the decade with a slate of television performances and overlooked feature films, including Larry Bishop's gangster comedy "Mad Dog Time" (1996), director Mike Figgis' cautionary tale of marital infidelity "One Night Stand" (1997), the experimental "Timecode" (2000), also helmed by Figgis; and a contemporarily set adaptation of "Hamlet" (2000), starring Ethan Hawke. MacLachlan's professional visibility received a boost in 2000 when he scored a recurring role on the popular dramedy series "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004). Perfectly cast as the uptight "momma's boy" and love interest of Charlotte York (Kristin Davis), MacLachlan's Trey MacDougal did his best to give Carrie's Pollyannaish gal pal the life she had dreamed of. MacLachlan's character left the show in 2002, after finally admitting to Charlotte that he had no desire to have children, but the recurring role went a long way toward putting the actor back on the map.
Post-"Sex," MacLachlan moved on yet again to another stretch of roles in films including "Perfume" (2002), a largely improvised ensemble comedy set in the world of New York high fashion. He had a small supporting role in the coming-of-age drama "Me Without You" (2002), and played the ghost of Cary Grant in "Touch of Pink" (2004). MacLachlan took another shot at starring in his own series with the courtroom procedural "In Justice" (ABC, 2005-06). Despite setting itself apart from similar crime dramas by focusing on MacLachlan's legal team representing wrongly convicted prisoners, the series lasted only a season. He would not be out of work for long, however, when diehard "Twin Peaks" fan and creator of the primetime soap "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-12) Marc Cherry cast MacLachlan as Orson Hodge. As the dentist husband of Bree (Marcia Cross) and a generally creepy guy, MacLachlan once again channeled his Lynchian side, much to the delight of the show's fans. As the 2010-11 season approached it was announced that after a few more cameos, Hodge would be leaving Wisteria Lane for good. Back in theaters, MacLachlan appeared as immigration attorney Charles Foster in "Mao's Last Dancer" (2010), a biopic recounting the story of famed Chinese dancer Li Cunxin. MacLachlan would also have recurring roles as the Mayor of Portland, Oregon, on the sketch comedy series "Portlandia" (IFC, 2010-11) and as pretentious nautical enthusiast "The Captain" on the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS 2005-2014). After co-starring in short-lived legal drama "Made in Jersey" (CBS 2012) and fantasy drama "Believe" (NBC 2014), MacLachlan joined the cast of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (ABC 2013- ) for an extended story arc in the show's second season. During this period, MacLachlan also had roles in indie romantic comedy "Peace Love and Misunderstnading" (2011) and drama "Breathe In" (2013), as well as playing Riley's father in the Pixar smash "Inside Out" (2015).
After seemingly years of rumors and hints, David Lynch and Marc Frost announced that they would be reviving "Twin Peaks" for Showtime. Originally set for nine episodes, "Twin Peaks: The Return" (Showtime 2017) eventually expanded to 18 hour-long episodes that Lynch likened to 18 parts of a single movie. Playing not just Special Agent Dale Cooper but also his criminal doppelganger and Las Vegas insurance agent Dougie Jones, MacLachlan was the key figure in the sprawling story, which expanded the show's peculiar universe to include not just rural Washington, but locales across the country and in the show's inexplicable alternate dimensions. The series was at times greeted with critical and audience confusion, but most agreed that MacLachlan's varied performances were among its strongest elements.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Performed at the Empty Space Theater in Seattle
Made feature acting debut in "Dune," his first collaboration with David Lynch
Scored critical success as the hero in Lynch's "Blue Velvet"; starred opposite Laura Dern
Starred in the underappreciated horror film "The Hidden"
Acted opposite Dern in the off-Broadway production of "The Palace of Amateurs"
Made TV acting debut in the CBS TV-movie "Dream Breakers"
Played breakout role of Special Agent Dale Cooper on Lynch's ABC series "Twin Peaks"; received Emmy (1990, 1991) nominations for Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Played supporting role of drummer Ray Manzarek in Oliver Stone's "The Doors"
Reprised role of Agent Cooper for Lynch's prequel film "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me"
Made TV directorial debut with "As Ye Sow," an installment of the HBO chiller series "Tales from the Crypt"
Played a rookie prison guard during the 1971 uprising at Attica in John Frankenheimer's HBO movie "Against the Wall"
Appeared in the Showtime movie "Roswell"
Portrayed prehistoric yuppie Cliff Vandercave in the live-action feature "The Flintstones"
Appeared in Paul Verhoeven's critically panned "Showgirls"; scripted by Joe Eszterhas
Co-starred with Elisabeth Shue in David Koepp's "The Trigger Effect"
Portrayed a 1950s Tennessee bootlegger in Showtime's "Moonshine Highway"
Appeared as Nastassja Kinski's husband in Mike Figgis' "One Night Stand"
Cast as Claudius in Michael Almereyda's modern-dress "Hamlet"
Featured as a smooth agent in Figgis' experimental "Time Code"
Landed recurring role as Dr. Trey MacDougal, Charlotte's (Kristin Davis) husband on the hit HBO series "Sex and the City"
Played supporting role in the ensemble film "Perfume"
Cast in Sandra Goldbacher's "Me Without You"
Portrayed the ghost of Cary Grant in the romantic comedy "Touch of Pink"
Played attorney David Swain on ABC's legal drama "In Justice"
Joined the cast of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" as Orson Hodge, a love interest for Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross)
Cast in the biographical drama "Mao's Last Dancer," directed by Bruce Beresford
Played recurring role of The Captain on "How I Met Your Mother"
Played the Mayor on IFC comedy series "Portlandia"
Cast alongside Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener in the comedy-drama "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding," directed by Beresford
Cast on the short-lived legal series "Made in Jersey"
Had a recurring role as Josh Perotti on "The Good Wife"
Appeared as Agent Dale Cooper in the newly released "Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces," a feature length assembly of unused footage from "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me"
Played a morally ambiguous doctor on Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Played the dad on Pixar's hit feature "Inside Out"
Reprised role of Dale Cooper on Showtime's "Twin Peaks: The Return"; also played the Cooper doppelgängers Dougie Jones and Mr. C
Lent his voice to an episode of "American Dad!"
Featured in the comedy short "Kyle Maclachlan's Stolen Thumb"
Appeared in Eli Roth's "The House with a Clock in Its Walls"