Madchen Amick found fame playing waitress Shelley in David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks. Now 43, she’s married with two children and has appeared in such series as ER, Gossip Girl Psych and Damages. Here she talks about her latest role in TV show Witches of East End, what she thinks about a Twin Peaks reunion, and why being naughty is good…
Are you enjoying your trip to London?
I am! I’ve been here for a few days now and I’m just enjoying the city, it’s great. I’ve only been here once before and it was right when Twin Peaks was premiering. I came and shot for British Vogue, and it was a whirlwind – I flew in, shot the magazine, and flew right back out. I didn’t really get to see London then, so this has been fun.
So you’ve seen all the sights this time?
I think I’m getting there… I’ve seen a play, Big Ben, walked around Soho and all that.
You’re currently appearing in Witches of East End – what is the show about?
It is about a family of women called the Beauchamps. There are two sets of sisters. There’s Joanna, who is played by Julia Ormond, and I play her sister Wendy. Joanna has two daughters; Ingrid and Freya, and they’re played by Rachel Boston and Jenna Dewan-Tatum. It’s about four women exploring our family dynamic, living in modern times, and having to hide the fact that we’re witches.
Is it true that your character was only originally going to be in the pilot?
Yeah! I was the guest star in the pilot, and they invited me to carry on and cause more trouble.
You must have done a good job.
Well, I definitely had fun with it.
It looks like it’s a fun series to make
Yeah, it really is. It has a lot of good special effects and magic as well as the drama part of it, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It pokes fun at itself, which I think is really important.
Your character is a little bit naughty, isn’t she?
She is, yes! Wendy doesn’t really like to follow rules, so she’s constantly pushing the envelope. She gets herself in trouble mostly.
Is that kind of character more interesting to play than a goody two-shoes?
A little bit. I’m definitely having a blast with her.
You’ve appeared in lots of fantasy and horror projects – is that because you’re a fan of these genres?
I am, as long as it’s done well. But I like other genres too – I love a good comedy and I enjoy a really good, tear-jerking drama. But I love the sci-fi, fantasy side of things too. Basically, I just love a good movie, or a good TV show.
You first became known for your role in Twin Peaks. did you know when you were making it that it would be something special?
No, not for sure. I knew it would be something different because it was David Lynch doing television, but I had no idea it would have a lasting effect. I mean, twenty-something years later and it still means so much to people, and students at college even study it, you know?
We’re only about a year from the 25th anniversary – will there be a reunion?
People have asked that. I don’t know. We’ve shown up here and there, and I recently did a Twin Peaks festival. We call each other from time to time and some have floated the idea of actually having some kind of filmed reunion, but I can’t imagine what we’d do.
Mädchen Amick, 43, sprang to fame as waitress Shelly Johnson in cult classic Twin Peaks. Now she’s playing the witch Wendy in Witches Of East End.
TV has been awash with vampires, werewolves, ghosts and witches. What’s different about Witches Of East End? I think it’s a different story that we haven’t seen before. It’s really good storytelling because people can relate to the characters. And it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Are you a fan of witchcraft? I wouldn’t say I know too much about it. I do believe in some kind of supernatural and spiritual stuff: I believe in being in touch with the elements of the Earth.
Are you worried you might upset real witches? No. It’s our own little view of witchcraft, it’s not about sticking to too many rules. The characters definitely enjoy a lot of female empowerment but, above all, it’s escapism. We all need a little of that.
You play a double role – Aunt Wendy and her alter ego, a black cat. Have you embraced your feline side? I’m pretty new to Twitter but now I’m tweeting as the cat I turn into whenever there’s a crisis. It’s @auntwendythecat. I tweet while the show is on in the States. I comment on what the cat’s thinking about the crazy stuff that’s going on.
How did the role develop into a lead character? Weren’t you signed up as a guest star? Originally, Wendy was just meant to come into town and warn her sister she was facing impending doom and then scat on out of there. But the producers decided to keep her as a character because she brought a lot of humour to the show.
And a fair amount of nudity… I’ve done a lot of shows where I’m the ‘hot sexy girlfriend’ and the nudity can be pretty gratuitous. But when Wendy bares her body, it’s not about being the ‘sexy part’ at all. It’s because she’s a witch who turns into a black cat and back. She just happens to be naked when she turns back. She’s really matter of fact about it. I love her attitude.
Did you have any doubts about baring all now you’re the other side of 40? Luckily, I’m married to a personal trainer [David Alexis], so he keeps me in good shape. We’ve been together for 27 years and when I met him, he was a musician. But we have two kids and they got into track and football and he got pulled in that direction. He used to be a track athlete and now he’s a really amazing coach – he’s changed a lot of kids’ lives around Los Angeles. You have to be confident being naked on set – and you have to trust they’re hiding anything that needs to be hidden. You don’t want any nasty camera angles, so it pays to keep in with the cameraman.
As an actress in LA, is there pressure to look a certain way? There’s absolutely a pressure. No matter what character you go for, they still want you to be as attractive as possible. It’s annoying. When I see actresses who are so thin and tiny, it makes me s*** scared. I’ve always been more curvy.
Twin Peaks: blessing or curse? It must have been a hard show to live up to. It’s absolutely been a blessing; it was an amazing thing to be a part of. I love that there are still so many fans of the show and fan conventions. I’m always happy to do those. What was amazing about it was that David Lynch was breaking all the rules about how you make a TV show. I was only 19 when I started, I didn’t know how rare a thing that was.
Has it been hard to follow it up? Witches is the first show I’ve had picked up for a second season since Twin Peaks. American TV is brutal, so many things get ditched too quickly. I’ve done so many pilots that didn’t get picked up, shows that only lasted one season. They don’t give things time to grow.
Any favourites that slipped through the net? I did a US version of a British comedy called Babes In The Wood. It was fun, just three women having a ball. I thought it had a really good chance but it didn’t go anywhere. You learn not to get too hopeful.
You’re a trained singer. Any ambitions in that direction? I did a US version of another British show, Blackpool. There was singing in that. I love musicals – there’s music all around me at home – but it’s more for fun. I’m an actress first.
One of your co-stars in Witches, Jenna Dewan, is married to Channing Tatum. Has he turned up on set? I told Jenna: ‘We would definitely get a second series if Channing dropped by to do a cameo.’ Everyone’s doing those. But now we’ve got a second series, we should up our game – Channing could play a shapeshifter, some kind of urban wolf whose clothes drop off when he changes character. Now that’s the way to get a third season… I’m going to pitch that!
Witches Of East End is on Lifetime on Tuesdays until January 7.