SCREEN SIREN

Twin Peaks bomb­shell Sher­i­lyn Fenn re­flects on the dis­pos­able na­ture of Hol­ly­wood and why she jumped at the chance to re­join the iconic TV se­ries.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Words by NI­CHOLAS FONSECA

Just like de­vout fans of the show around the world, Twin Peaks star Sher­i­lyn Fenn is on ten­ter­hooks as she awaits each weekly in­stal­ment of the beloved tele­vi­sion se­ries, a cul­tural jug­ger­naut that is now back on the air af­ter 26 years.

Due to cre­ator David Lynch’s re­fusal to share a sin­gle de­tail of its byzan­tine plot with crit­ics, fans or even its stars, she filmed her scenes without any con­text, re­ceiv­ing only the script pages of scenes in which she ap­pears. By the time you read this, Fenn may have made her first ap­pear­ance on the re­booted se­ries. Or maybe not. Ei­ther way, she is en­joy­ing the ride and watch­ing – but cring­ing, and with her hands over her eyes.

“I watch [the new episodes] by my­self,” Fenn tells Stel­lar. “It feels like such a strange dream. And I’m al­ways a bit ner­vous be­cause I don’t know when I’m cut into it… and I don’t like see­ing my own work!”

Well, good luck with that. She’s best known for her sen­su­ous por­trayal of town trou­ble­maker Au­drey Horne, which made the then 25-year-old Fenn a small-screen siren for the ages. But in a ca­reer span­ning 30 years, Fenn has worked al­most con­stantly – so try­ing to avoid glimpses of her­self as she changes chan­nels may be, well, un­avoid­able.

“It’s like hear­ing your own voice played back,” Fenn ex­plains. “Ever since I was lit­tle, I thought I just sounded like a munchkin… it sounds so weird to me. I’m not able to be ob­jec­tive. I’d rather just work re­ally hard. Some peo­ple will do a scene, then go back to watch it on the mon­i­tor, then they’ll come back and do it again.” She laughs. “That switch­ing of the hats is some­thing I’ve never been able to do. I’m not able to learn, let alone get any joy, from watch­ing my­self.”

AU­DREY HORNE, WHO quickly be­came the most fa­mous fe­male char­ac­ter on Twin Peaks when the show first aired in the early 1990s, was a nu­bile school­girl with a know­ing glint in her eyes. As em­bod­ied by Fenn, her sig­na­ture retro bob, arched eye­brows, beauty mark, blood-red lips, form-fit­ting sweaters, knee-length tar­tan skirts and sad­dle shoes col­lided to cre­ate one hugely se­duc­tive whole. When Au­drey tied a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue, a gen­er­a­tion was held in thrall. (Dita Von Teese once revealed that Fenn’s De­cem­ber 1990 cover of Play­boy was “the orig­i­nal in­spi­ra­tion for dy­ing my hair from blonde to black”.)

As Fenn tells it, this legacy is the re­sult of a happy ac­ci­dent. “Au­drey wasn’t in the script. David wrote her for me. I was there like all of the other girls in my age range, au­di­tion­ing to play ei­ther Shelly or Donna.

“I was con­sid­ered [to be] a very in­con­se­quen­tial char­ac­ter, and a lot of what I wore was my own clothes. Look at the sweaters the other girls were wear­ing – they were re­ally big. Then look at mine. They’re lit­tle and tight. Those were my sweaters! I still am not sure why or what hap­pened, but it’s a gift.”

When Twin Peaks ar­rived, Fenn was best known for the 1985 com­edy Just One Of The Guys and a lead­ing role in 1988’s Two Moon Junc­tion, a crit­i­cally drubbed erotic thriller she dis­avowed for years. “I’ve come to peace with it,” she now re­veals. “I was naïve about some things. My man­ager at the time said, ‘Now they can’t ig­nore you any­more.’ Well, great, what am I sup­posed to do with that?!”

Ig­nor­ing Fenn has never been easy for any­body – con­sider the fact that two of her first boyfriends were Prince and Johnny Depp. (When she posts throw­back snaps of her­self and Depp on so­cial me­dia, Fenn cred­its him as “my first love”.) She was born into a show­busi­ness fam­ily, the daugh­ter of key­board player Ar­lene Quatro and Leo Fenn, who man­aged rock acts such as Alice Cooper and The Plea­sure Seek­ers, the first band of Ar­lene’s sis­ter, singer Suzi Quatro. So a knack for per­form­ing is in her blood, though Fenn also cred­its her itin­er­ant child­hood for her in­ter­est in act­ing and the dili­gence with which she seeks out new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“I want to keep work­ing,” Fenn says, “be­cause I have to sup­port my­self and my kids.” But she’s hon­est about the re­al­i­ties of show­biz for women at the age of 52. “I know there are less roles, but there are barely enough women di­rect­ing in the first place,” she laments. “It’s Hol­ly­wood, and they’re go­ing to cast 25- to 30-yearolds to play op­po­site 60-year-olds all day long. I wish there could be more balance.”

Does she worry about how the pub­lic may per­ceive her, and her al­ter ego Au­drey, in 2017 now that she has a few wrin­kles? Her an­swer is frank: “I don’t care. That’s not the best at­ti­tude, but as you get older, you see that clichés ex­ist be­cause they’re real. I’m happy where I am. I’d rather think about the other things this beau­ti­ful life has to of­fer.”

THERE ARE TWO no­tice­able gaps in Fenn’s ca­reer, each co­in­cid­ing with the births of her sons: Myles is now 23 and Christian turns 10 in Au­gust. “We’re all liv­ing to­gether again,” Fenn says, “so I get to spoil them each separately.”

Last year, Fenn wrote No Man’s Land, a chil­dren’s book about a boy who has autism. It was Christian’s di­ag­no­sis that spurred her on. “It was hard to take him slowly out into the world,” she says. “We re­ceived a lot of judge­ment. He was very much ‘my way or the high­way’, and would have huge fits. But to think [all chil­dren] see and learn things the same way is a huge mis­take. So there was a lot to learn, and a lot to con­tinue to learn, just to keep him grow­ing and pro­tected.”

Fenn will visit Aus­tralia in July to at­tend Oz Comic-con Mel­bourne, where she’ll meet fans and ap­pear at a din­ner in her hon­our. But rather than see such events as nec­ces­sary evils, she seems to gain emo­tional nour­ish­ment from the ex­pe­ri­ence. “The fans have got­ten me through,” Fenn says. “I get to do th­ese shows, meet them, pay my bills and be con­nected. When you’re only around peo­ple who di­rect or act or pro­duce, they’re al­ways judg­ing you. They want some­thing from you. You get around peo­ple who like your work and it’s a whole dif­fer­ent vibe. They’re kind, they’re sweet, they share ideas.

“You’re dis­pos­able in a busi­ness like this, es­pe­cially as a wo­man get­ting older. And then you learn some lit­tle char­ac­ter you played touched peo­ple’s hearts, and they tell you about it, and it touches you. Some­times peo­ple come up and start cry­ing, then I’m cry­ing, and I don’t even know what’s go­ing on!”

Laugh­ing as she tries to ex­plain her en­coun­ters with fans, she could be talk­ing about the bizarre world of Twin Peaks it­self. “It’s a trippy ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says. “We’re all just bro­ken peo­ple do­ing the best we can, you know?” Sher­i­lyn Fenn will ap­pear at Oz Comic-con Mel­bourne, which runs from July 1–2; oz­comic­con.com/mel­bourne.

“YOU’RE DIS­POS­ABLE IN THIS BUSI­NESS, THEN YOU LEARN SOME LIT­TLE CHAR­AC­TER YOU PLAYED TOUCHED PEO­PLE’S HEARTS”

SIREN’S CALL (clock­wise from left) Sher­i­lyn Fenn, 52, is repris­ing her iconic role as Au­drey in the re­boot of Twin Peaks; with Kyle Ma­clach­lan in the orig­i­nal se­ries; and her

Johnny Depp, who she met in 1985.

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