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Kyle MacLachlan Is An Underrated Eclectic Actor Who's Lowkey Been In Everything

A deliciously eclectic actor, Kyle McLachlan has been gracing our screens, big and small, for more than 40 years. He's embodied roles that are dark, goofy, sexy, and, on at least one occasion, impotent. As a long-time collaborator with David Lynch, McLachlan has embraced the variety of his career with gusto. From Dune to Showgirls, Desperate Housewives to Twin Peaks, Portlandia to Blue Velvet, his expansive career is truly something to behold - and can you think of another actor who's starred in so many cult classics? Let's take a look at some of his most iconic roles!

  • He Got His Start As Paul Atreides In David Lynch's 'Dune'

    In his film debut and the first of many collaborations with eccentric director David Lynch, MacLachlan played a role he’d wished for since childhood.

    As Paul, an heir of House Atreides and hero of the people, he burst onto the world’s radar in the film adaptation of the beloved sci-fi novel of the same name.

    “I was 23 and had just graduated from acting school, and had no idea what I was doing,” he remembers. “But I knew the book really well and had played Paul in my imagination for many years. Now I was able to bring him to life.”

    Though initial reviews were poor, the film has become a beloved cult classic, and MacLachlan’s ease in the role, classic good looks, and strong working relationship with Lynch set the stage for a nearly 50-year career in film and TV.

  • Photo: ABC

    He Played The Iconic Dale Cooper In 'Twin Peaks,' Which Spanned Three Decades

    In one of his best-known roles, MacLachlan played FBI special agent Dale Cooper in the 1990 television series Twin Peaks, its 2017 revival, the 1992 prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and a series of Japanese coffee commercials for Georgia Coffee.

    MacLachlan plays Dale Cooper as brilliant and quirky, with a great thirst for life and an intense interest in the unusual. MacLachlan has said that he sees Cooper as a version of his Blue Velvet character Jeffrey Beaumont, one’s gained wisdom and agency. David Lynch agrees, saying the character of Dale Cooper was developed as “a grown-up Jeffrey Beaumont.”

    In a recent Reddit AMA, Maclachlan called the part of Cooper his “favorite role of all time” and said he’d play Coop “Anywhere, anytime.” 

  • Lynch Thought His 'Boy Next Door' Looks Made A Good Contrast To The Dark Material In 'Blue Velvet'

    In his second collaboration with David Lynch, the arthouse neo-noir thriller Blue Velvet stars MacLachlan as Jeffrey Beaumont, a naive college student embroiled in a dangerous, seductive mystery.

    Cementing MacLachlan’s place as a leading man, the film earned both an Oscar nom and a spot in the American Film Institute’s top 10 mystery films of all time. Blue Velvet was the first film in Lynch’s catalog to explore an ongoing theme in Lynch's work, which MacLachlan describes as "flirting with that dark soul, getting closer and closer to it until you're faced with the ultimate evil." 

    “Kyle plays innocents who are interested in the mysteries of life,” David Lynch said of his long-term collaborator. “He's the person you trust enough to go into a strange world with."

    Lynch himself had gained real respect for MacLachlan by this point, entrusting him with a character he considered to be an avatar for himself.

  • Before He Stepped Into The Role Of Dale Cooper, He Also Played An FBI Agent In The Cult Classic 'The Hidden'

    In his first role as a Fed, MacLachlan portrayed FBI Agent Lloyd Gallagher in the 1987 sci-fi action thriller, The Hidden.

    In the film, MacLachlan plays a straight-faced agent much like Cooper, but pursues a dangerous body-snatching alien running rampant in the city of Los Angeles. Later revealed to be an alien law enforcement officer, Gallagher is a meaty role, and director Jack Sholder called the casting of MacLachlan in the main role an “inspired choice.”

    Like Dune, The Hidden was not an instant success, but has since gained status as a cult classic.