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Michael Ontkean Won’t be Returning as Sheriff Harry S. Truman on TWIN PEAKS

Michael Ontkean Won’t be Returning as Sheriff Harry S. Truman on TWIN PEAKS

It’s been a mixed bag of news for Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival lately. On the plus side, we have great new actors joining the cast, like Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard. On the down side, we lost the Log Lady herself, actress Catherine Coulson, who was due to return to the series in her iconic role, but passed away last week. Today’s news item is another mixed bag, so let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

It’s seem that in 2017, the town of Twin Peaks will have a new sheriff, as original series actor Michael Ontkean will not be returning to play the part of Sheriff Harry S. Truman. Ontkean was the right-hand-man to Kyle MacLachlan’s FBI Agent Dale Cooper, and in fact had second-billing in the show’s credits. The chemistry between he and MacLachlan was a vital part of the show’s appeal for many, so this is a pretty big bummer for fans. As for why Ontkean isn’t coming back, a source close to the actor said “Michael is fully retired from show business, and has been for many years.”

While that may be true, as of this past February, Ontkean was publicly looking for his old Harry Truman jacket on social media, or a replica of it, and other returning cast members said that series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost had coaxed Ontkean out of retirement for the new season. Obviously, something happened between then and now. What that something was remains a mystery.

On the plus side, Lynch and Frost have found a damn fine actor to replace Ontkean, as they’ve hired veteran character actor Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, Heroes) to be the new Sheriff. Interestingly, Forster was supposed to play the part of Harry Truman way back in 1989, but prior commitments kept him from taking the part. (Lynch would later give him a small role in his film Mulholland Drive.)

What remains unclear is whether or not Forster is playing an all new character as Sheriff, or playing an older version of Harry Truman. If it’s the latter, it wouldn’t be Twin Peaks’ first recasting of a major role, as the part of Donna Hayward was recast for the film Fire Walk With Me when series actress Lara Flynn Boyle bowed out.

This Twin Peaks fan is hoping Forster is playing a new Sheriff, because although both Michael Ontkean and Robert Forster are very good actors, they have very different energies, and it would be hard to buy Forster as Harry for a lot of old school fans. The original show didn’t really leave any loose, dangling plot threads around the character of Harry Truman, so it would be easy enough to say that the character retired, moved away, or even passed away (it has been twenty five years after all.) But I trust that whatever David Lynch and Mark Frost have planned, they’ll find a way to make it work.

HT: TV Line

IMAGE: CBS Studios, LA Times

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