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Kyle MacLachlan Reveals How ‘Fallout’ Blends Drama with Dark Humor

Actor stars in new Amazon Prime series based on the popular video game

spinner image Kyle Maclachlan against yellow ombre background
Photo Collage: MOA Staff; (Source: Matt Sayles)

Kyle MacLachlan, 65, made his movie debut 40 years ago in the original Dune, and is also known for his memorable role as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper in the 1990 TV series Twin Peaks. He’s been steadily working in film and TV roles since, and stars in the series Fallout, based on the popular video game, premiering April 11 on Amazon Prime, as well as the movie Blink Twice, which will be released August 23. He shares the story behind his true crime podcast, why he opened his own winery and what it was like being directed by Zoë Kravitz.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Were you surprised that both Dune and Twin Peaks have become cult classics?

With Twin Peaks, most of us expected it to just be a pilot, which would then turn into a movie of the week, because that’s how they did things back then. Instead, it had a wonderful little life, and then a second life again, 25 years later [with the release of Twin Peaks: The Return], which was even more remarkable. I credit director David Lynch and the power of his vision and what he did for movies such as Dune, Blue Velvet, and the television show Twin Peaks. Dune has really hung around, and even though the book the movie is based on is very complicated, people respond to the feel of it. While it’s very difficult to follow the story, I think audiences get involved with the characters and the sensory elements of the film and seem to really enjoy it.

Your new series, Fallout, is based on a popular video game. Are you a gamer?

spinner image Cover of Fallout that says The world deserves a better ending, Fallout, prime, April 11, New Series
MacLachlan plays the role of Hank in the new Amazon Prime series, “Fallout.”
Amazon MGM Studios

I had to learn about the game after being approached to play the role of Hank, the father of the show’s primary protagonist, Lucy. I tried to play the game, but I think I missed my gaming window. The creator of the Fallout television series took the premise, the setting and the environment of the game and then created a story that made sense within the world of the game. It takes place in a complicated, complex world that’s very immersive and expansive. The show was created with a great deal of sensitivity to the existing game, in order to create an experience that fans of the game would appreciate. There’s a lot of really smart people working on this show, and the series deftly blends drama with a sort of dark humor.

What can you tell us about Blink Twice and the character you play?

I worked with Bruce Cohen, the producer of Blink Twice, on The Flintstones, a long time ago, and we became friends. When he called me about Blink Twice, he basically said, “Hey, I’m producing this film with Zoë Kravitz, who is directing, and there’s this role we thought you might be interested in.” He said it was just a couple of days’ work and that Zoë was amazing, and he thought I’d have a nice time. It sounded great, and the movie had an interesting cast, including Channing Tatum and Christian Slater. It’s sort of a revenge kind of story, where I play a mysterious character who is somewhat of an outsider. The movie was filmed in Mexico and was a lot of fun. Zoë had such a great sense of being a director but was also really open to suggestions and thoughts from the actors. She had a very creative kind of cooperative process that I really responded to. I’d love to work with her again on something. She makes it a joy to be there with her, and we all had a lot of fun.

You’ve also recently recorded a true crime podcast, Varnamtown. How did that come about?

It focuses on a rumor I’d heard about Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and how he conducted a deal in the early 1980s with some of the residents in the coastal town of Varnamtown, North Carolina. The story is told by the actual people of Varnamtown, many of whom were involved in a smuggling operation that allowed Escobar to use the town as a shipping and transport hub.

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How did you get the idea to open your winery, Pursued By Bear?

I grew up in Yakima, in eastern Washington, and was first exposed to wine while in high school. I couldn’t have wine with my family, but I was able to enjoy a glass with a friend’s family during dinner, and I really liked it and thought it seemed very grownup at the time. I continued to explore wines and became very excited when wine culture found its way into Washington and wineries began to open on the eastern side of the state, near and around Walla Walla. It’s really a perfect spot to develop wine grapes and make wine. After watching how wines were made in Napa, I went to Washington and made the acquaintance of a winemaker who agreed to partner with me on a little project. I had no real expectations or goals, other than being curious about what it would be like to make red wine, bottle it and then drink it. The business started very casually and over the years has become more and more important to me. I own the company, run it and hire all the employees. I know my growers, employ a winemaker, and I’m very hands-on. It’s definitely my baby.

How would you describe your wines?

We primarily make red varietals. They’re all classic Washington flavor profiles, so they’re very balanced wines, very fruit-forward and food-friendly. They have a beautiful, bright acid quality to them, which works well if you’re eating cheese or meat or anything like that. We really make them to be enjoyed with food. 

Sounds like you are keeping busy. How have your priorities changed as you’ve gotten older? 

I’m an older dad — my son [with wife Desiree Gruber] is 15 — and I’ve always been pretty health conscious. I work out at the gym, but I don’t go every day. I stay pretty active and fit, just doing the things I like such as skiing, tennis and golf. I enjoy staying active and having a physical bond with my son in that we can share things together like skiing and working out at the gym. That’s important to me, and so is maintaining a certain level of fitness, which I intend to do until I’m at least 80. The only thing that will slow me down is if my joints start to say no, and even then, there’s all kinds of things I can do to maintain joint health, so I’ll keep at it.

spinner image Kyle Maclachlan as Paul Atreides in a still from Dune
MacLachlan played Paul Atreides in the 1984 movie “Dune,” directed by David Lynch.
Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were younger?

To appreciate and really enjoy what I could do physically. My son’s a volleyball player, and I watch the guys on his team run and jump with no worries about anything, because everything works. When I was in high school and college, I used to do jumping, turning, twisting —there were no second thoughts. I used to run even to the point where my knees and back would be a little achy, but I didn’t care because I knew it’d be fine the next day. I don’t know if I would have curtailed anything, but as you get older, you have a greater appreciation of what your body can do that I didn’t have when I was younger.

What’s next for you?

I just want to keep working. That’s the fun part. I like working with good material and interesting, creative people. That’s really the true joy of it. I mean, I’d love to do an action/adventure genre show. Who knows if that will ever happen, but it would be a lot of fun to drive a car real fast or have a sword fight.

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