Lost in the Movies: Heidi (TWIN PEAKS Character Series Bonus #22)

Heidi (TWIN PEAKS Character Series Bonus #22)

The TWIN PEAKS Character Series surveys one hundred ten characters from the series Twin Peaks (1990-91 on ABC and 2017 on Showtime as The Return), the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), and The Missing Pieces (2014), a collection of deleted scenes from that film. A new character study will appear every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday although patrons will have immediate access to each entry a month before it goes public. There will be spoilers.
indicates passages added or revised since 2017, if you want to skip directly to fresh material; this is a revision of an earlier piece written before the third season.

Heidi’s response to both awkward and pleasant situations is to giggle, and this reaction has served her well for years.

Friday, February 17, 1989
Heidi, a waitress at the RR Diner, never moves for several minutes. She is seated in a booth, head tilted up with a red-soaked Kleenex to her nose. As a result she can’t help a volunteer deliver Meals on Wheels. As her co-workers chat, Heidi doesn’t speak. Finally her boss Norma places her hand on Heidi’s shoulder sympathetically and Heidi bursts into giggles. There’s an uneasiness in the air and as the cook observes from the kitchen, “Kinda quiet in here.”

Friday, February 24, 1989
A week later, on a gloomy morning, Heidi pulls up late for work. Her co-worker Shelly teases her, implying that Heidi was too busy having sex with her boyfriend, despite her excuse that the car wouldn’t start. When pressed, she giggles.

Monday, March 27, 1989
A month later, Heidi shows up late again. And Shelly says…well, in fact, their exchange is line-for-line the same as the earlier one, even punctuated by the same teenager sitting at the counter commenting, “I thought you Germans were always on time.” Heidi giggles her way into the kitchen and disappears…for now.

Monday, September 26, 2016
Still giggling twenty-seven years later, Heidi hands the bill over to Miriam, a young, enthusiastic local schoolteacher. After Miriam leaves a big tip, Heidi sighs: "She can't afford a tip like that!" Shelly agrees and suggests that they cover her cost next time she orders pie. That night, the diner is bustling but activity is momentarily interrupted when someone races in to the restaurant to inquire about a mysterious "Billy." After the stranger runs out onto the street again, Heidi and the other waitress carry on, serving food and chuckling with the customers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Heidi hovers about the counter as Shelly's daughter Becky enters with a bread delivery.

Characters Heidi interacts with onscreen…

Norma Jennings

Shelly Briggs

Bobby Briggs

Impressions of TWIN PEAKS through Heidi
Heidi serves as a peripheral presence to other dramas; this is especially true in her Fire Walk With Me deleted scene, in which a tense moment unfolds between Nadine, Ed, and Norma as Heidi nurses her bloody nose in the background. Yet Lynch has always had a disproportionate affection for the character; having cut many major cast members from the film, he made sure to retain her cameo. Decades later, he brought her back for the third season - she casts a warm glow in the (mostly) otherwise troubled Twin Peaks. Heidi's presence in The Return emphasizes the continuity of community in the town, something that can be hard to come by elsewhere. She also provides, along with mostly major characters, a link between the time of Laura Palmer and the present day. We see her share space with Laura; years later, when she goes about her business and has a friendly conversation with a cheerful young teacher, we are reminded that this twenty-first century tourist trap still retains some ties to the era of the (pre-)murdered homecoming queen. Even in the second season, Heidi is used in this manner. Lynch brings her back to repeat her exact dialogue from the pilot, after she disappeared for the twenty-eight episodes in between.

Heidi’s journey
Well, it’s hard to talk about Heidi having a character arc since (on the first two seasons at least) she ends up literally right where she started! She does get to do something slightly different in the prequel movie, to the extent she "does" anything at all in that scene. (Incidentally, discussions of the film will complicate our analysis: in-world these scenes take place before the series, but since they were created afterwards they demonstrate the writers’ evolving perception of the characters.) When she reappears much later, Heidi seems more settled into the RR routine. If she's late and erratic in the old series, she's a familiar hand in the newer one - clearly a fixture of the local diner by this point. Is she still with "the old man," or has she moved on in her romantic if not her professional life? Heidi generally offers reassurance that for all the radical changes in Twin Peaks, some things remain the same.

Actress: Andrea Hays
Hays appeared in several films throughout the nineties (and was apparently a bar patron in Footloose though I couldn't spot her). She also played a variety of roles behind the camera, including costume designer, makeup, art department, and more (IMDb lists ten different positions). In 2017, a commentator named "AndreaHays" replied to my original Heidi entry by clarifying what brooch the character was wearing. I thanked her and inquired, "Is this THE Andrea Hays?" She responded, "I am just one of the Andrea Hays' currently residing in the Universe--I also play Heidi."

The Pilot

*Episode 29 (German title: "Beyond Life and Death" - best episode)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (feature film)

Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (collection of deleted scenes from the film)

Part 5 (Showtime title: "Case files.")

Part 6 (Showtime title: "Don't die.")

Part 7 (Showtime title: "There's a body all right.")

Heidi’s appearance in the pilot is completely scripted by Mark Frost and David Lynch – she is described as “a hefty German girl” and “bubbly, easily embarrassed.” However, she was not written into the finale (the entire diner scene was improvised by Lynch, who didn’t receive any screenwriting credit for the episode) or even the available online draft of the film’s screenplay, which Lynch himself co-wrote. His pattern seems to have been to add her later. In the finale, she is one of close to a dozen characters from earlier episodes whom Lynch decided to bring back. The gap between her two appearances is by far the longest in the first two seasons. She is only ever directed by David Lynch and written by Lynch and Frost, including - obviously - in the new material.

Heidi is onscreen for roughly seven minutes. She is in six scenes and four episodes (plus the feature film and its deleted scenes collection), taking place in three days in 1989 (spread out over more than a month) and two days in 2016. She’s featured the most in Fire Walk With Me/The Missing Pieces, when she nurses the bloody nose (on the original series, she’s in the pilot slightly more than the finale, and in the new series, she appears in part six more than any other). All of her scenes are set in the RR Diner. She shares the most screentime with Shelly.

Best Scene
Episode 29: Already humorous dialogue is given an extra zing by an eerie sense of déjà vu.

Best Line
“I couldn’t get my car started.”

Additional Observations

Surprise! Heidi drives a Volkswagon.

Heidi’s appearance is remarkably similar in her two original series episodes – coat, gloves, watch, even ring look the same (though she has a backpack in the pilot). But one notable detail is off: in the finale, she wears a badge/pin on her breast with a picture on the front. It looks like a classical portrait though I can’t quite make out of who, let alone its significance. (The actress herself clarified this - it's a Mona Lisa portrait with an artist's palette.)

Heidi was part of the original character series, when the qualification was three scenes with dialogue (or, in her case, giggles). Because the criterion has been shifted to ten minutes, she's now a bonus entry, while moving past several characters thanks to her additional screentime in The Return. She would rank just above Teresa Banks and just below Phyllis (Hastings' wife) on a combined list.

This is the first entry in the revised series to feature the skewed, confusing timeline of the third season. In this case, Heidi's earliest appearance is when Becky visits in episode 5, but I've placed that a day after her scenes in episodes 6 and 7 (which appear to take place on the same day as each other due to costuming and hairstyle). I am using this timeline for my reference (elsewhere, the thread discusses how this was developed).

• When I published my initial entry on Heidi I wrote the following in the "Showtime" section: Yes, Hays is on the cast list for 2017. Considering that Lynch cut most major characters from the prequel, but still found a place for the giggling German, it would have been a shocker if he didn’t bring her back one more time. I imagine we’ll see her still working at the RR, although perhaps she’s up to something else with her “old man” these days. I don’t think Heidi will repeat her infamous dialogue a third time, but I do think she’ll giggle.

Next (active on Wednesday, January 18 at 8am): Vivian Niles

To immediately read a month of upcoming entries, updated weekly to stay a month ahead...

(at the time of publication, this includes revised full entries on bonus characters, plus full entries on new or revised characters among #86 - 52)

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