“[Phillip Jeffries] is an agent who has either been dead for eight years or else took a long leave of absence and forgot to check in,” David Bowie described his character in the 1992 press kit for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. “My character is an intensely over-traveled upholder of the law. He has seen too much and has little ability to do much about it. Not dissimilar to the perspective of a rock god, really.”
In the Bowie-dedicated Part 14 of Twin Peaks: The Return, David Lynch and Mark Frost reused snippets of one of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’s most disruptive scenes; on February 16th, a few minutes after 10:10 AM, the long-lost Phillip Jeffries walks out of an elevator on the 7th floor of the FBI’s Philadelphia office, rambles about living inside a dream and attending one of their meetings above a convenience store, and then disappears into thin air in front of Dale Cooper, Albert Rosenfield and Gordon Cole.
According to Twin Peaks co-writer Bob Engels, Debby Trutnik, who was David Lynch’s assistant in the early ’90s, repeatedly asked her boss to write a movie part for Bowie. And so he did. “They crammed me,” Bowie told The Seattle Times. “I did all my scenes in four or five days, because I was in rehearsals for the 1991 Tin Machine tour.” In fact, Bowie stole a part of Jeffries’ costume for a good cause: “I’ve worn [his belt] a few times on stage with Tin Machine. It consists of two rather garish portraits of Frida Kahlo. A very “now” item. I’m hoping it will lead to a court case producing massive exposure on CNN. Otherwise, I will sell it to the highest bidder… or Madonna, perhaps.”
The only other Jeffries scene we’re aware of was released as part of The Missing Pieces and shows the missing agent checking into a hotel somewhere in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before and after his teleportation to Philly.
David Bowie described working with David Lynch as watching a 14-year-old who’s been given permission to rearrange the world for eight weeks. “Invigorating. I highly recommend working with David. He’s delightfully bonkers.”
The recently deceased Miguel Ferrer acknowledged as much in an unpublished interview with Reflections author, Brad Dukes: “[David Lynch] approaches things in a very child-like way in some respects.” The actor goes on to describe what happened on the set just a second before shooting the famous Phillip Jeffries appearance:
David is as much a fan as he is an artist … I remember we were doing the movie, there was a scene with Kyle MacLachlan, I think David was in the scene, I was in the scene and David Bowie was in the scene. David was just about to roll camera and he came over to me. He always called me Albert, he never called me Miguel. He said, [whispering] “Hey Albert.” I said, “Hey Dave.” He said, “That’s David Bowie.” I said, “Yeah, I know.” David says, “Pretty cool, huh?” [laughs] Then he rolled camera and we did the scene. But, you know, that’s David. He was just incredibly impressed by the fact David Bowie was right there and I love that about him.
Now this is something really interesting to think about: we’re not seeing an identical repeat of the legendary scene from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
- Jeffries points at Cooper and says, “Who do you think that is there?” instead of “Who do you think this is there?” This version of the line can also be heard in The Missing Pieces.
- In Part 14, Bowie’s voice was overdubbed by voice actor Nathan Frizzell. Why? “There is logic behind it,” the voice actor promises us. Remember, Harry Goaz revealed that David Bowie was originally scheduled to shoot for the new series. UPDATE: David Lynch explained why Bowie’s voice was different.
- Lastly, what’s the one thing that’s been omitted from Cole’s dream? Yes, Judy! We’re not gonna talk about Judy, but are we gonna remember her at all?
Finally, an interesting coincidence. From certain angles, the cowboy statue outside of Dougie’s Lucky 7 Insurance offices resembles a ’70s David Bowie, as pointed out by forum user Haldeman.