At 51, Sherilyn Fenn is still the most beautiful woman in the room. Her beaming smile, bright eyes and porcelain skin shine out like a beacon in a crowd. But she’s more than just another pretty face: The actress is best known for her whip-smart acting in David Lynch’s cult classic TV show “Twin Peaks” and films including “Ruby,” “Wild at Heart” and the jarringly original “Boxing Helena.”
In the last decade she has appeared on shows like “Psych,” “Rude Awakenings,” “Gilmore Girls,” “In Plain Sight” and “Shameless.” Between those gigs Miss Fenn has taken on what she considered her greatest role: as mom to two boys.
Miss Fenn discussed the challenges of growing older in an industry obsessed with youth, the gift of autograph shows, the joys of motherhood and the upcoming “Twin Peaks” revival, which debuts on Showtime in 2017.
Question: What is the most common thing fans say when they meet you?
Answer: I had a crush on you. Or “You know, you were my crush!”
Q: What is the reaction like of fans they meet you at conventions?
A: Doing these shows, it has surprised me how much came back just from meeting people. Talking to fans has really blown my mind. It’s made me so happy to know my work has touched people. Even if your work touches one person, that’s an amazing gift.
Occasionally people have some deep insights. They get what I was doing, what I was trying to reveal. For me acting is pretending. It’s illuminating my human struggle — trying to grow and have the courage to be filmed while figuring things out.
Q: Is it harder to find work at an actress at age 51?
A: It sure is. It’s a hard business. I’m 51 now, so there are less roles available.
But the truth is, I was always picky anyway. When certain doors opened around “Twin Peaks,” I wasn’t interested in walking through them. Now I just feel like I’m more open to life. I have two children. My life is not dependent on the business in that way. I am anxious to see what life is going to bring next.
Q: Tell me about your book.
A: I just published a story for children called “No Man’s Land” based on my son. My youngest is on the autism spectrum and the book is a lovely story. Life is really beautiful.
Q: Did becoming a mother change your role choices?
A: Being a mother for me was like, “Oh, this is what I’ve been looking for my whole life.” This brings me a sense of completion. I never knew I would love this deeply. It’s so nice not to worry about myself anymore. I only worry about my children.
As far as choosing roles? It would only be on the scale of, “If I do this film, am I leaving for 20 weeks?” My gift to my children would be from me to be as honest and true to myself as an artist, and put that out there to the best of my ability.
Q: Because “Twin Peaks” was such a success, was it hard for people to see you as anything but “the girl” from “Twin Peaks”?
A: For goodness sake, at 51 they still say that. I think, “You’ve never met me, never talked to me. You don’t know who I am. That was a character.” I was in my twenties when I did it. So it’s silly.
But make no mistake, it’s a great gift. People say, “It’s iconic.” I don’t even know what that means. That is beyond my lack of self-worth understanding. [laughs] I’m being completely honest.
Q: How did you get that part?
A: I don’t know. He (David Lynch) saw something. He met me for 15 minutes and then wrote the role for me. I don’t know. He’s amazing.
Q: I know you have been involved with the new “Twin Peaks” reboot. Can you give us some insight in what to expect?
A: We had a great time doing it. David wrote and directed 18 episodes.
Q: So the quality is on par with the original?
A: Of course, it’s David! He has so much depth. He has an incredible spiritual connection. He has all of us doing [transcendental meditation] on set.
I think [the reboot] will probably, hopefully, be some of his best work. The beauty of age is we grow, we learn. We have more wisdom. And as much as the youth-glorifying Hollywood would like us to believe, it’s nothing. They’re wrong.
Q: Are you new to transcendental meditation?
A: Now it’s been almost two years since I started. I went to see David. We were drinking coffee, and I said, “Oh this is wrong. And this.” He said, “Sherilyn Fenn, you’re a mess. You need TM!” He hooked me up with a wonderful teacher. It’s life-changing.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: I’m writing my memoir. And whatever the future holds I’m not really sure. I’m in a space of surrendering and being open and seeing. It’s a good place to be — the only place to be.