MCM: Kyle MacLachlan


At first I was going to write this intro like, “Heh heh, remember when Kyle MacLachlan used to be a thing?” Then I went through his IMDB and realized, he’s really never stopped being A Thing. Since his debut as Paul Atreides in Dune (1984) to his most recent role as FDR in the miniseries Atlantic Crossing (2020), Kyle MacLachlan has been working nonstop for nearly 40 years. So, let’s take a look at that impressive career with a focus on his historical roles!


The Doors (1991)

Kyle played Ray Manzarek, The Doors’ keyboardist, and (in my totally not so humble opinion) the real brains behind the band’s success. I saw this film in my teens and remember it being long and weird, and I’m not sure if that will change if I watched it as an adult now.


The Trial (1993)

The second film adaptation of Kafka’s novel (the first one by Orson Welles), Kyle MacLachlan plays Josef K., the central figure in this existential story about a man condemned by unseen authorities for unknown reasons.


The Flintstones (1994)

Hey, if I didn’t include this one, someone would have called me out in the comments for leaving it out. It’s TECHNICALLY historical, ok?


Roswell (1994)

Kyle MacLachlan plays Lt. Col. Jesse Marcel, a key figure in the alleged coverup of alien contact in Roswell, NM in 1947.


Moonshine Highway (1996)

Well, hello there, handsome! This is peak Kyle MacLachlan, and he is here to take you on a passionate journey into illegal whiskey smuggling in the deep south, and of course he’s having an affair with the Sheriff’s wife while doing it.


Northfork (2003)

Residents of a small town in Montana grapple with evacuating their homes as a dam is being built that will flood their valley. The description of the film on Wikipedia makes it sound overwrought.


Mysterious Island (2005)

Film adaptation of a Jules Verne novel about a band of Civil War survivors who end up on a, well, mysterious island inhabited by giant carnivorous bugs.


The Smell of Success (2009)

Originally titled Manure, this comedy tells the story of a manure salesman in the early 1960s. Wackiness ensues.


The House With a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

Kyle MacLachlan plays an evil warlock in this dark fantasy/comedy flick about a kid who loses his parents in a car crash and is forced to move in with his extended family who live in a weird old home filled with magic.


Tesla (2020)

Kyle MacLachlan plays Thomas Edison in the film about his rival, Nicola Tesla (played by Ethan Hawke). Looks like it’s worth a watch.


Capone (2020)

A Tom Hardy movie I haven’t seen? I know, I’m confused, too. Tom plays Al Capone after his release from prison, and Kyle MacLachlan plays Capone’s doctor.


Atlantic Crossing (2020)

Sofia Helin as Crown Princess Martha and Kyle MacLachlan as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in this miniseries about their complicated friendship with one another during World War II.

And finally, just to shut up anyone who came to the comments to complain that I didn’t showcase him as Paul Atreides, despite it not being a period film in the least:

Bonus: Harkonnen knife fight, feat. Sting.


Are you a fan of Kyle MacLachlan’s historical costume movie & TV roles? Share your favorite films of his with us in the comments!

17 Responses

  1. Roxana

    Dune is certainly not a historical movie but the costumes had some interesting nods to history, especially the Corrino court costumes. Princess Irulan’s dressmaker was definitely channeling the Spanish baroque.

  2. SarahV

    If nothing else, he certainly had the most (male) luxurious head of hair in Hollywood.

  3. Liesl

    An odd treat: Touch of Pink, which was at Sundance in 2004. He plays (I’m not joking) Cary Grant as the main character’s guardian movie star, and the costume choices do a great job to support the idea.

  4. Colleen Crosby

    I forgot he was in House with the Clock in Its Walls. Good movie! Cate Blanchett has some great looks in it.

  5. Al Don

    When I was younger I had only seen him in The Flintstones, but as I got older and saw him in, for example, David Lynch’s work, I really began to appreciate his versatility and strength as a lead. (Side note: there’s a pretty funny theory about The Flintstones that it’s not a period piece but futuristic; taking place at the same time as The Jetsons but depicting the underclass of that world. Doesn’t explain the dinosaurs.)

    I intend to see The Smell of Success at some point as I absolutely loved the same directors’ film Northfork (2003).

  6. Susan Pola Staples

    My favourites are Dune and Twin Peaks (Damn good coffee). But both are not period. Of the period pieces, I’m leaning towards his FDR in Atlantic Crossing bc I am looking forward to seeing Crown Princess Martha portrayed by Sofia Helix. Also seeing the present king of Norway portrayed as a young boy.

    • SarahV

      I had never actually heard of Crown Princess Martha, but this casual reference sent me off on a deep dive on the internet. What a fascinating woman.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        Yes, she was and her granddaughter and namesake is as well.

  7. Mrs. D

    The Doors is definitely long and weird (directed by Oliver Stone, so, ya know). But it fits for a movie about The Doors.

  8. Anna

    I saw him in Romeo and Juliet at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival before he was famous.

    The actors came out before the play, which was unusual, and mingled with the audience.

    I asked him who he played, and he flipped back his luscious locks and said “Who do you think?” I replied, “I don’t know, maybe Friar Lawrence?” (because even at 12, I could recognize a humungous ego when I saw one). He turned around and walked away without another word, and that was the end of my one and only encounter with Kyle MacLachlan.

    • Maggie May

      The film seemed a bit arty and pretentious. But the Doors were definitely arty and pretentious.

      In a good way.

  9. nico81

    I remember him as Charlotte’s uptight husband in Sex and the City ^^

    • SarahV

      Oh, now, now. Trey was not so bad, he looks like that and he came with THAT apartment. TBH, Charlotte was no prize either.

  10. Orian Hutton

    Not really much to do with Kyle MacLachlan, but the post reminded me that I met the real Ray Manzarek back in 1967 just as The Doors became famous. It was on a beach in Vancouver, I was fifteen years old and we discussed poetry. A very nice man. Must watch the film, which I haven’t yet seen.