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Deputy Hawk: A Twin Peaks Interview with Michael Horse



When Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) cryptically said “I’ll see you again in twenty-five years,” no one actually thought it would come to fruition, but as Twin Peaks fans have enthusiastically come to realize, “It’ is happening again.”

The mystical, quirky world created by David Lynch and Mark Frost returns on May 21, and devout Twin Peaks followers cannot wait to catch up with characters that they fell in love with two-and-a-half decades ago.

Among them, Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill, played by Michael Horse.

Though a character of few words and few scenes, Deputy Hawk left an indelible mark on one of the finest and most groundbreaking programs in television history.

Hawk was a tracker, a protector, a philosopher, a poet, a Bookhouse Boy and a loyal friend.

A legacy which Horse enjoys thoroughly.

“Every now and then I’ll see somebody who lets me know that they’re a fan and I’ll give them the little Bookhouse thing on my face and they just go crazy. It’s so much fun.”

iHorror was fortunate enough to catch up with Horse to discuss his return to Twin Peaks, a classic David Duchovny story, his ledger art and that the man who is Hawk would be “absolutely floored” if fans don’t go crazy over the highly anticipated third season.
So walk us through this. You’ve gotten the call about the return of Twin Peaks, you’re on location, on the set and in position. What thoughts were dancing through your mind in that moment before you heard “action,” realizing that you were back in that magical world?

The call was really interesting because everybody kept asking me, “Are you going to be in it again?” I go, nobody’s called me. And Lynch called, he was doing his art show in Pars, and he’s just an amazing guy, sometimes it’s like talking to somebody out of a ’50s sitcom. He goes “Hey buddy, we’re getting the gang back together.” I thought, just give me a cameo, I would just be pleased to be a part of it, but I’ve got some really interesting things to do. And I thought to myself, it’s been a long time. People would talk to me about certain things that I didn’t even remember, I had to watch the seasons again with my wife to actually remember what I did.

But the television that’s been on the last ten years is some of the best TV I’ve ever seen. I’m riveted by Taboo, the first season of True Detectives was amazing, just so many wonderful things and I thought this is great TV that’s thinking outside the box and exploring different things, so maybe this won’t be anything this time. After the first two days of work I go “Oh, I forgot.” (Laughs.)

There’s nobody like David. Especially for an actor, and a Native actor, you don’t get a chance to do art that often. There were crew people who came out of retirement to work with David one more time. We all knew we were doing something wonderful the first time, and we knew we were doing something this time, and all the guest stars knew they were doing something special. There wasn’t a single ego, there was just a look in everyone’s eyes like we’re here doing something amazing.

I’ve heard you and other cast members touch on the idea that there was something different about Twin Peaks, that everyone knew they were working on something special. Can you elaborate on that? Describe the sensations present when you know, even before a project is finished that it’s going to make an impact.

We didn’t know it would have that kind of impact. I didn’t and a lot of the people that I knew didn’t know. We knew we were doing something different, but we didn’t realize, like I said, all these amazing things on television, just about anything good on TV now has some of Twin Peaks’ DNA in it. It changed the way that people processed television. There had been changes before, in format and subject matter, but not in the actual physical way that people process television. I was really amazed, I live in the Bay Area, and these young people really like Twin Peaks. We’ll go to the movies or something and my wife will go “Those kids are following you,” so I go “Can I help you?” And they go, “Are you the Hawk?” I go “Yeah,” and they just go crazy, she thinks it freakin’ hysterical.

But I realize that you cannot multitask and watch Twin Peaks. My kid, he’ll be watching TV, he’ll be doing three things on the phone, you can’t do that and watch Twin Peaks, it’s impossible. So they really, really get into it. It’s got more fans now than it ever did, and that amazes me.

One of the best scenes in the series had Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) appear a bit lost shortly after Maddie’s death, but Hawk recognized that and said “You’re on the path. You don’t need to know where it leads, just follow.” When it came to the spiritual aspect of the series — the concept of the soul and the Black Lodge — Cooper leaned on Hawk for perspective. In a way, he was a bit of a guide for Agent Cooper, wasn’t he?

The Hawk was rooted in all those things that people were just discovering when they were going “Oh, what’s happening here? What’s happening here? What’s happening there?” As an Indigenous person, especially in that area (Washington state), that’s a holy place. Anytime you get around nature you realize that there are spirits in nature, it’s not a New Age thing. I talk to people about Aboriginal science, for years we said we’re all related and I said I’m a couple chromosomes away from a snail darter (chuckles). All things are alive, even the rocks are alive. We knew the existence of the atoms and we knew the Earth was round and revolved around the sun, we knew that there was a connection both metaphysically and scientifically to all these things. The minute that all this stuff started going off, Hawk knew that they had opened up something that they shouldn’t have opened up. 

We also wanted to touch on the idea of Hawk as protector. Not just as an officer, but whenever Andy (Harry Goaz) or Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean) felt slighted, Hawk was there with a “robot” jab or to kick a crutch out from under a sarcastic perp, not to mention saving Cooper and Truman during the Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) rescue mission at One Eyed Jacks. As Cooper said to Hawk, “If I’m ever lost, I hope you’re the man they send to find me.” Despite having fewer scenes than his law enforcement cohorts, Hawk was really the backbone of the Twin Peaks police department.

I had forgotten all about that, I was watching again and going “God, I was really a hero, man.” (Laughs.) I forgot about all that stuff. It had been so long, and I’m watching it again going “God, Hawk was cool. I wish I was that cool.” (Laughs.) It was an amazing character to play, it was one of the first times we saw a multi-dimensional Native character on television. I grew up with all these horrendously bad images of Indigenous people, and to think of a person of mixed blood, too, you realize that we’re all human beings so you’re looking at all kinds of aspects of how human beings exist in the world. But nature is the key and Lynch understood that. Nature is where the medicine is and mountains always have great medicine, great power to them. 

Speaking of the Twin Peaks police, Ontkean did not return for this 18-episode run. Was it a bit different not having him there and what would you say to fans who are worried the show won’t be the same without his presence?

All I’m going to tell the fans, I will guarantee you that you will not be disappointed (laughs). That’s a personal guarantee from the Hawk (laughs). Because we’re fans, we’re all fans, I’m a fan; and as I’m filming this thing, I’m filming it as a fan. I’m thinking to myself on the first day I wonder, will people be disappointed? Nooo. No (chuckles). And Mark’s insight into the character of the Hawk, it took off like it never left. Like I said, I forgot so much, it’s been 25 years but it’s like it happened yesterday. It’s been so long, but the minute I stepped back into it, it was like I never left. 

People always said “Will it come back?” and I said “I don’t think so,” I thought it was like James Dean, it died young, but there was great apprehension, will it be disappointing? Uh-uh. No, no, no. The first couple of days I’m going “Ohhh” (Laughs). And David has his hands on it, there’s nobody like him, there’s nobody that has his eye. Like I often tell people, it’s like being in a painting that Davdi’s doing. And it’s funny. All spiritual people, all the holy people that I know are really funny. If you’re not funny, I don’t think you really have the juice as a holy person because you don’t understand the heart of the human condition. 

It’s amazing. I’m sure the fans are going to go crazy. 

In its first season, you appeared in an episode of The X-Files. We can’t help but ask, were there any Denise Bryson references exchanged between you and David Duchovny? 

He was just awesome to work with. We ended up being good friends. It’s really funny, when he played the transsexual FBI agent I had my picture taken with him, so when I’m doing The X-Files I’m in the hair department and I’d go “You know, I used to date David’s sister.” And they’d say “He never said anything about his sister,” so I’d show the picture and they’d go “Oh, God. She’s not very attractive.” And when he came in they said “We didn’t know you had a sister” and he goes (sarcastically) “That’s me!” (Laughs) 

Though the original series only ran for two seasons, there seemed to be a genuine camaraderie between you and your fellow cast-mates. There has to be a behind the scenes story, a little moment that perhaps no one else knows about that just leaves you in stitches whenever you think back on it.

The time we were throwing the rocks at the bottles and David says “Go over and pick up that bucket of rocks and put these oven mitts on,” and I’m going “What the heck does this mean?” David goes, “Nothin’, I just wanted to see you in some oven mitts.” But I go to pick it up and I went “Oh, it’s Kung Fu,” if you remember the Kung Fu series where David Carradine had to use both his arms pick up the hot pot, but I was laughing. I’m a film fan, I like a lot of old movies, so there’s a lot of little innuendos and things that just crack me up. 

You’ve said in the past that Twin Peaksheld some mirrors up to some (Native American) stereotypes and did away with others,” can you expand on that statement. 

The Hawk was talking about his girlfriend and he was talking about Brandeis, he had both feet in both worlds. He grew up in a tradition and he understood that, but he also realized that he was in his own time and he had to deal with that also, so that was interesting. And like I said, he was funny. Native people, we’re funny people. I used to watch these old films and that stereotype of Indians who’ll cry, but I said, we’re funny people, my elders are funny people. So having that sense of humor was really interesting for me. 

What can you tell us about Gathering Tribes?

That’s my wife’s website, that’s my wife’s business. She has a gallery and she’s also a really well known Native activist. She’s got Idle No More started by some women up in Canada, but that’s my wife’s website (with some of Horse’s art present there). I’ve been an artist since I was 17 or 18 years old. I do a type of painting that’s called ledger art, where we used to paint on hides, which is our history book and our calendar, we’d roll it up and take it with us. In the reservation period, the hides were not so available, the buffalo were gone, so we painted on pieces of scrap paper which were mostly ledger papers that were in the books that took records of things that were brought to settlements and reservations. 

We know you’re sworn to secrecy, but give us one teaser just vague enough to both excite and torture fans until the curtain goes up on Season 3.

No, I can’t. I can’t say nothin’, I’m sworn to mum. All I can say is you will not be disappointed because I’m thinking as a fan.

I got in it and was thinking to myself, “Would I be disappointed seeing this again?” And from what I know, from what I’ve been involved in, I’m going “Wow.” I’m so excited and I hear the people at Showtime are excited, but I would be absolutely floored if the fans didn’t go crazy. This time David gets to do what he wants to do with no restraints on him, and this is Twin Peaks gone to a whole different level. David is more mature person than he was then and so is Twin Peaks.

But like I said, the magic of it, it’s like it never left. It was like that passage of (25 years) never happened.

Twin Peaks returns May 21 on Showtime.

You can also catch Horse in Godless on Netflix this fall and also Dead Ant , “a little B sci-fi film that’s a cross between the ’50s sci-fi film Them, Spinal Tap and Road Warriors.” 


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