Meet the Woman Who Cast All the Locals for the New ‘Twin Peaks’

What is David Lynch looking for? Heidi Walker knows.

Heidi Walker runs Casting by Walker, an agency that casts local actors in movies and series filmed in Washington. Courtesy of Heidi Walker

In 1990, the Snoqualmie Valley gained mainstream attention after being featured as the central location of the hit TV series Twin Peaks, but the Valley’s iconic look isn’t the only local aspect that made it into the cult classic show. Many area actors were involved as well.

When it came to the task of choosing who those actors would be, the show’s creators turned to Sammamish-based casting director Heidi Walker. Walker, who originally worked in Los Angeles for both Paramount and Warner Brothers, moved to Washington in 1988, where she started working as a casting director. She continues the work to this day and has again been tapped to serve as the local casting director for the new Twin Peaks, which premieres on Showtime on May 21.

After moving to Washington and getting into the casting business, Walker found herself involved in two of the area’s most popular shows with fellow casting director, Susie Dixon.

“When I first started working in Seattle, I had a chance to work on a show called Twin Peaks. It was for two seasons, my casting partner at that time was working on it,” she says. “She left to go make pastries in Paris, and I started working on Northern Exposure, then I did (the Twin Peaks movie) Fire Walk With Me.”

Since first touching the Twin Peaks franchise, Walker has gone on to cast many other films and TV series filmed in Washington and started teaching the class “How to Audition” at the Seattle Film Institute in 2014.

As production on the Twin Peaks revival began in early 2015, Walker was contacted and asked to return as the local casting director. Walker said she cast 25 to 30 actors in the new, 18 episode series.

She described her job as the local casting director this way, “I will get a call to do the local casting, they send me the script with the basic information including the stars and I will find all of the co-stars and principal players,” she says. “The deal is you don’t work with a script with Mr. Lynch. People come in and I have the camera rolling, I interview them and we just start riffing and they tell me stories. I get them to the point where they are at ease and some funny, poignant, or sad stuff emerges.

“I make my selection of who I think was interesting that day and I send that to the powers that be. Johanna Ray and Krista Husar are the casting directors in L.A., they along with Mr. Lynch and Mr. Frost, sit down and decide who they are interested in.”

Walker is happy that a big show like Twin Peaks came back to Snoqualmie Valley for filming, because it helps to bring more activity to the state’s film industry. With more activity, Walker hopes the state will keep financial incentives in place for the film industry to continue to grow in Washington. She said she hopes the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, which expires this summer, is renewed in the state’s 2017 legislative session. The program provides funding that helps retain local talent, promotes tourism, and supports local infrastructure to make Washington a desirable place for the film industry to work in.

Walker saw the filming of Twin Peaks in North Bend bring a surge of business to the area, especially around Twede’s Cafe, one of the filming locations for the show, and Georgia’s Bakery (then George’s Bakery).

“There is this ripple, when something like Twin Peaks is being filmed, there is a such a huge following for this show, people were coming into North Bend in droves,” she said. “The craft service bought 250 a day from (the) bakery.”

Walker is happy to be a part of the return of the beloved series and to help Washington actors get roles.

“It was a delightful process,” she said. “If every production could be like this, at least from my viewpoint, it would be really great. I get thank-you notes from actors cast in things, and I got a lot from actors on Twin Peaks.”

AREA CELEBRATIONS

North Bend and Snoqualmie are planning a series of events to welcome the start of the long-awaited third season of Twin Peaks.

Snoqualmie will host a show-themed Goose Chase scavenger hunt, Saturday, May 13, starting at Centennial Fields Park and ranging throughout the Valley and to various Twin Peaks filming sites. Scavenger hunters will need an Apple or Android phone for the hunt, which starts at 3 p.m. They will be assigned to take photos and check in via social media throughout the hunt which will end at DirtFish.

Following the hunt, fans can meet with crew members from the original show and collect autographs from new series cast members Lisa Coronado and Jodi Thelen. At 6:45 P.M., participants can bring their blankets and lawn chairs into the DirtFish warehouse to watch Fire Walk with Me on the 40-foot screen.

North Bend, which claims the title of The Real Twin Peaks, will host a day of guided tours of filming locations, plus a sold-out viewing party of the premiere at Compass Outdoor Adventures in downtown North Bend ON May 21. The building served as the offices of producers David Lynch and Mark Frost when they filmed the pilot.

The event will feature Twin Peaks-themed food, including cherry pie, donuts, coffee, Snoqualmie Brewery’s Twin Peaks-inspired Ghostwood Kolsch, and Wicked Pies.

The North Bend Visitor Information Center is also offering Twin Peaks related merchandise.

arts@seattleweekly.com

A version of this story originally appeared in the Snoqualmie Valley Record.

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