Actors Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise will attend a screening of the David Lynch movie "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" at the Studio 35.
Like many TV watchers in the early 1990s, Mike McGraner was enthralled with the original run of the ABC series “Twin Peaks.”
Shown in two seasons in 1990 and 1991, the show presented the offbeat inhabitants of, and peculiar happenings in, a fictitious Washington town called Twin Peaks, where teenager Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) has been killed.
McGraner, now a producer in Columbus, was such a fan of the series that several years later, he checked out the feature film “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (1992), a prequel co-written and directed by the co-creator of the series, David Lynch.
Yet the young fan was startled by how much the movie departed from the series.
“I can’t remember how old I was at the time — maybe 10 or 11 — and I watched that movie,” McGraner said. “I just remember the feeling and mood of it. I didn’t really feel it was like ‘Twin Peaks.’ I was just like, ‘Man, this feels different.’”
McGraner was not alone: When first shown in theaters, “Fire Walk With Me” was scorched by critics and spurned by audiences.
This weekend, central Ohio film fans can judge for themselves when the Studio 35 Cinema and Drafthouse will screen “Fire Walk With Me” as part of “The Director Series: David Lynch.”
The co-stars of the film — Lee (as the soon-to-be-murdered heroine) and Ray Wise (as her father, Leland) — will be on hand for a question-and-answer session and to sign autographs.
In the 27 years since “Fire Walk With Me” was released, Lee has seen its reputation improve.
“I am surprised, but I’m also surprised by many things about life,” Lee said in a phone interview with The Dispatch.
When McGraner revisited the film after first seeing it, he started to appreciate it as a work with virtues independent of the original series.
“The film has beautiful moments,” McGraner, 38, said. “Every single Lynch film takes you through this roller coaster of happy, sad, scared to death.”
McGraner especially praises the performance of Lee, who — in spite of the negative press the film received — was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best actress.
“That movie required a lot out of that actress,” McGraner said. “She is the star of ‘Fire Walk With Me,’ as opposed to being in the background in ‘Twin Peaks.’”
“Initially, I was only hired for a few days as a corpse on the pilot. ... I figured that I was finished, because I was dead,” said Lee, whose participation in the show increased when she was hired to play Laura’s cousin, Maddy.
Then came “Fire Walk With Me.”
“I just remember having creative conversations with David that he was chewing on the idea of the film,” Lee said. “For me, that was a huge relief because I had always felt as if that character’s life force wasn’t finished expressing herself.”
To her surprise, Lee found herself playing Laura once more in “Twin Peaks: The Return” — a long-rumored revival that aired on Showtime in 2017.
“Over the three decades, of course, there had been rumors, so even when it actually was happening, and I heard the rumors that it was happening, I didn’t believe them,” Lee said. “I was so thrilled watching it that these younger generations got to see (Lynch’s) mastery on television in that way.”
Conceived by McGraner, “The Director Series: David Lynch” aims to show each of Lynch’s 10 feature films, starting with “Eraserhead” (1977) and ending with “Inland Empire” (2006). The box-office take of each film determines whether the next film on tap is actually screened or not.
“The next month happens if we sell x amount of tickets to this month,” he said. “It’s sort of like film lovers keep it going.”