A home in Everett’s Rucker Hill neighborhood was Laura Palmer’s family home in “Twin Peaks.” (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A home in Everett’s Rucker Hill neighborhood was Laura Palmer’s family home in “Twin Peaks.” (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

From “Twin Peaks” to “Assassins”: Some of the movies and TV shows filmed in Everett

Robberies, manhunts, murders, oh my! Here’s what filmmakers have made happen in Snohomish County’s largest city over the years.

This is the first in a three-part series exploring TV shows and movies filmed in Snohomish County. Look out in the coming weeks for part two and three on Monroe and Index.

EVERETT — Everett isn’t Los Angeles. It isn’t Atlanta or Vancouver, B.C., or any kind of city known for film production. And there are no warehouse-sized sound stages here. Nevertheless, film crews have over the years set up shop in the area from time to time.

It starts with a knock at the door. Then, with little more than a yes from the homeowner, Hollywood comes to town, transforming ordinary-looking houses, streets and fields into the backdrops for film projects both large and small.

The Daily Herald went looking for the biggest, most memorable movies and TV shows filmed in Everett. Here’s what we found:

“Twice in a Lifetime” (1985)

Gene Hackman in this film plays a working-class man in the midst of a marital breakup. The romantic drama was largely shot in Snohomish and on Everett’s waterfront where the Scott Paper Co. plant doubled as a fictional Seattle steel mill. The film premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival. Hackman received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance along with his co-star Amy Madigan, who also was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards.

“The Chocolate War” (1988)

Based on a novel by Robert Cormier, the movie tells the story of a new student at an elite Roman Catholic prep school who faces bullying and comes into conflict with administrators after refusing to sell chocolates for a fundraiser. In a 2009 piece, Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein noted a number of scenes were shot “under gray skies in north Everett.”

“Twin Peaks” (1990-2017)

This mystery series about an FBI agent investigating a murder in Washington was co-created by acclaimed director David Lynch. The show premiered in 1990 and ran for two seasons on ABC with 30 episodes in total.

Much of “Twin Peaks” was filmed at Twede’s Cafe in North Bend and at the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie, but another frequent film location was in Everett.

The murder of the teen character Laura Palmer is the show’s central mystery, and the interior shots of her family home first seen in the pilot episode were filmed at a house in the Rucker Hill neighborhood built in 1925.

In a 2014 interview with Zillow Blog, homeowner Marilyn Pettersen said she awoke one morning in 1989 to find a location scout knocking on her front door. The woman said they wanted to film at her house and Pettersen, in disbelief, thought “Yeah, and I’m the queen of England.”

The interior shots of Laura Palmer’s house were filmed in Pettersen’s home, but the establishing exterior shots in those two seasons were of a 1928 Dutch Colonial in Monroe. The outside of the Everett house appears in the prequel film “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.”

Pettersen spoke about the filming in a 1992 interview with The Herald. She and her husband were offered housing at a nearby hotel during the shoot but, after a few nights of poor sleep, decided to return to their home bedroom.

The staircase of the Laura Palmer house featured in “Twin Peaks.” (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The staircase of the Laura Palmer house featured in “Twin Peaks.” (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Crews worked throughout their house, sometimes filming late into the night. Pettersen stayed up to lend a helping hand if needed “because they would decide things on the spur of the moment.” She showed the crew how to work the fireplace and cooked all the food used in the meal scenes. Even Laura Palmer’s cereal came from Pettersen’s kitchen cabinet.

“That’s a funny story,” Pettersen said. “It was raisin bran. But David didn’t think it looked right, so he had his guys pick the raisins out one by one.”

The house was meticulously photographed so crews could replicate it on a Hollywood set to film additional scenes, but Pettersen’s stairway ceiling fan was taken by the crew because “they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to find one like it.” 

In 2014, the now-famous “Laura Palmer House” was put up for sale. A fan tried to raise $600,000 on KickStarter to buy the home and turn it into a museum. Instead, the property was purchased by Mary Reber and her then-husband. In a July interview with The Herald, Reber said that although they were aware of the home’s film connection, they bought it simply because it was an older home in the area.

Reber said she was prepared for the kind of attention a house like that draws. What she did not anticipate was one day finding a gold-colored notice from a location scout taped to her front door. Showtime had picked up the show for a third season, calling it “Twin Peaks: The Return,” and the crew wanted to film at her home.

The crew filmed there off and on for two weeks and Lynch asked Reber to play a small role. She appears in the final scene of the show’s final episode, which aired in 2017. Reber answers the door to find an FBI agent and a living Laura Palmer. After a brief exchange, the characters walk off and Laura lets out a scream. Reber is on screen for just a few minutes.

“It took two takes, which I loved,” Reber said. ”It was out of my comfort zone, totally, but it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

The homeowner was flabbergasted when a location scout for “Twin Peaks” knocked on her door in 1989. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The homeowner was flabbergasted when a location scout for “Twin Peaks” knocked on her door in 1989. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Laura Palmer House is a tourist attraction for “Twin Peaks” fans. Florida resident Steven Miller, creator of the fan-site TwinPeaksBlog.com, first visited the home in 1996. He was 20 then and drove around Everett searching for the home based on what he remembered seeing in the show.

“I don’t know how we found it, but couldn’t believe it,” Miller said in an interview. “It was so iconic. And the fact of how we just happened to stumble upon it was pretty amazing.”

Miller wasn’t able to go inside at the time, as Pettersen didn’t give tours. Reber, however, is open to guests, just so long as they coordinate with her beforehand. Miller described meeting Reber at her home in 2019 as a “surreal out-of-body moment.”

“I was speechless,” Miller said. “For being a fan of the show for so long, it was just one of those moments you just never forget.”

Reber said she wants to write a book about her experience on the show and her interactions with fans. People from around the world have come to visit her home, and she sees people driving by almost daily to gawk at her house. Cosplayers will have mini-photo shoots in front of the home, she said, often screaming like Laura Palmer.

“In the light of day, people will park their car and scream,” Reber said. “It’s interesting.”

A 22-minute documentary on YouTube, called “Welcome Home • Mary Reber and the Twin Peaks Palmer House,” extensively details the history of the house.

A scene from the 1995 film “Assassins” was filmed at Evergreen Cemetery in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A scene from the 1995 film “Assassins” was filmed at Evergreen Cemetery in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“Assassins” (1995)

This action-thriller stars Sylvester Stallone as a professional hitman who’s one job away from retirement. He’s about to eliminate his target at a funeral with a gun concealed in a fake cast when a character played by Antonio Banderas, disguised as a graveyard worker, shoots the man dead with a sniper rifle. A short exchange of gunfire at the graveyard ensues between the two.

“Assassins” was largely filmed in Seattle and Puerto Rico, but this scene was shot at Evergreen Cemetery in Everett. Patricia Fay, of Camano Island, worked as a location manager on the film and had considered at least two other cemeteries in Seattle for the shootout. In the end, her top choice was Evergreen Cemetery because it was “more interesting,” with its multitude of trees, hillsides and plentiful on-site parking.

“It had a lot of appeal,” Fay said. “To find a nice cemetery with spaces like that and everything. I couldn’t get too far out of town, so Everett was perfect.”

The big headstones the actors used as cover during the shootout were actually props. However, the landmark Rucker Tomb, a 35-foot-tall pyramid built in 1907 to hold the remains of the city’s founding family, can be seen for a split second blurred in the background.

The three-minute scene took a couple of days to film. During production, Fay met the film’s stars. She called Stallone “demanding,” while Banderas was “a delightful man.

“The Fugitive” (2000)

This series — not to be confused with the 1993 film with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones or the Emmy-winning television show from the ‘60s — stars Tim Daly as a doctor falsely accused of murdering his wife who goes on the run searching for a one-armed man. In an Associated Press interview, an executive producer said 85% of this show was shot within 30 miles of Everett. In the article from 2000, Daly called the area ideal because it could double for many different locations across the country.

Doug du Mas, of Seattle, who worked as a location manager on the show, recently told The Herald they filmed in the area “primarily for the film (tax) incentive, and the diversity of looks that Everett had in such close proximity.”

du Mas said their production office was at a warehouse on Harbour Pointe Boulevard in Mukilteo. The crew spent half the week filming at a soundstage they built there and the rest shooting on location.

In a 2006 interview, Daly was asked about his thoughts on Everett. He didn’t have any specifics, saying, “I guess my most vivid memory is not in Everett itself, but Seattle,” going on to tell of his hotel in downtown Seattle shaking during an earthquake and how he expected Mt. Rainier to erupt.

I was sure it was gonna blow, and I was very disappointed,” Daly said.

“The Core” (2003)

In this sci-fi disaster film, a team drills to the center of the Earth to set off nukes to restart the rotation of the planet’s core. The scene where the crew’s pod is rescued at sea was filmed on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln while stationed in Everett.

At the time, The Herald reported 50 Lincoln crew members got the day off to work as extras pretending to ready a mock helicopter for takeoff. In the scene, mission control chief Alfre Woodard and computer hacker D.J. Qualls are seen standing in the ship’s viewing gallery, or Vulture’s Row, ten stories above the deck.

“7 Minutes” (2014)

Kris Kristofferson cameos in this action film about three friends who rob a bank. du Mas worked on this movie, too. He said the script was set in Ohio, so the Los Angeles-based filmmakers wanted something with that feel. It was cheaper to shoot somewhere on the West Coast rather than fly out to the Midwest, so they picked Everett because it “really had the look and the feel of any-town-USA,” du Mas said.

The financial support from Washington Filmworks and the Snohomish County Tourism Office also convinced the filmmakers to come to Everett. du Mas said other places the filmmakers considered were Silverton, Oregon, as well as Bellingham, Buckley, Enumclaw and Monroe in Washington.

Cascadeloop.com noted a number of local spots in the film: A drug deal goes down at the Rucker Mansion, a historic 1904 home. About five minutes of the film take place at Totem Family Diner, where a character’s girlfriend works as a waitress. A SWAT team parks at Karl’s Bakery and Café on Wetmore Avenue. The robbers hatch their plan while playing pool at the now-closed Amber Lite Tavern on Evergreen Way. A six-pack of Everett-brewed Scuttlebutt beer also makes an appearance.

The filmmakers leased Everett police vehicles and hired off-duty officers to drive them. Some locals worked as extras. At the time, The Herald reported flashback scenes were shot at Monroe Correctional Complex, a Snohomish gas station and on Arlington High School’s football field.

“The Architect” (2016)

Parker Posey and Eric McCormack play a married couple looking to build their dream home, but an architect, James Frain, has other ideas. The dramedy was primarily shot in 2013 at private homes in north Everett.

Sean Straub, coordinator of Experience Everett, the tourism outfit working with the film company, told The Herald at the time that the area was chosen because of “the historic character and quality of life that north Everett exudes.”

du Mas also worked on “The Architect” and said it was the financial incentives from the state and county tourism board that drew the project to Everett. The house used for the couple’s home was picked because it wasn’t too upscale and had a great view of Puget Sound.

“I’ve always said, ‘You don’t pick locations; they pick themselves.’ And that’s what happened,” du Mas said. “This thing just happened to have all the bells and whistles they were looking for.”

As filming started in October, The Herald reported that the crew distributed flyers throughout the neighborhood asking folks to put away their Halloween decorations, lights and pumpkins.

In the film, the couple pays to tear down a house so they can build the perfect home on the spot. du Mas calls it a “major element” of the film, and the crew got lucky finding a nearby house they could shoot that was being demolished.

“That was very serendipitous, let me tell you,” du Mas said. “Those are lottery odds.”

Eric Schucht: 425-339-3477; eric.schucht@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EricSchucht.

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