Best known by Twin Peaks fans as Bobby Briggs; Dana Ashbrook plays the brash, ever-schemin’ philandering football player, drug runner for Leo and Jacques, and still yet somehow deep-down earnest good guy, not to mention boyfriend of Laura Palmer before she died. Bobby encapsulates the complicated and contradictory spirit of the show, making you wonder who’s good, and who’s bad, and what forces and behind it all.
Dana Ashbrook has enjoyed a diverse career as a television and movie actor for the past 25 years, and it all started with him as the “Boy on Boat” in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes from 1978, showing that Dana has been acting for most of his life, with no apparent plans to stop.
His IMDB is very long and contains some stellar roles, showing how flexible this actor really is. Having recurring roles on shows such as Crisis Center (1997), Dawson’s Creek (2002), The Kill Point (2007), Crash (2009), and Psych (2010), to name but a few, Dana is an actor who truly has the flexibility to do anything he sets his mind to, but we feel that his best roles are always his dramatic ones, as he plays these roles exceedingly well.
But we must never forget the boy…and the boat…
In his spare time, Dana has said that he likes playing sports like baseball and tennis, and enjoys playing harmonica.
Dana Ashbrook was born in San Diego, California on May 24th 1967 to parents his D’Ann and Vernon L. Ashbrook.
Dana has two siblings, both of whom have made a name for themselves in their own right: Taylor Ashbook who is a writer and Daphne Ashbook who is an actor.
In 2015, he married his wife Kate Rogal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
From a young age, Ashbrook was involved in theatre groups, which sparked his interest in the craft of acting. His father, Vernon, was the director of Palomar College Department of Performing Arts and mother was a teacher/performer in a local theatre.
As mentioned, Ashbrook made his film debut while still in his teens in the 1978 cult hit, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. He was discovered while performing in a high school play when his sister’s agent discovered him. This was the beginning of his Hollywood acting career.
Prior to Twin Peaks, Ashbrook had about a dozen acting roles, including well known dramas like Knots Landing (1987), as well as 21 Jump Street (1988) among others, before landing the role of Bobby Briggs on Twin Peaks.
Clearly, appearing in the roles he got before Twin Peaks only improved Dana’s dramatic acting chops, as the series he appeared on were blockbusters in their own right, not to mention some of the parts he played in Return of the Living Dead II, Waxwork, and even Ghost Dad.
Despite his thuggish on-air persona he portrayed with Bobby Briggs, Dana Ashbrook has always been a thoughtful, well-spoken person who’s never taken his fame for granted.
With regards to Twin Peaks, Ashbrook has often said that he respects and admires Lynch greatly, and considers Twin Peaks to be his big break.
He has also said that Lynch is the person who taught him how to be cool and has been quoted saying the following; “Twin Peaks is the one thing in my career that I can really look back on, that I really respect and love and honor as something that’s different – the one thing that I can hang onto.”
Ashbrook wrote a script for a travel movie with his friend Robert Bauer called “Driven To It”, which Lynch offered to executive produce and help out with. Unfortunately, the project fell apart when the pair were unable to secure financing. He and Robert Bauer created the film company Bauerbrook Films, which has since disappeared, as of this writing.
TV and Other Roles
As mentioned before, over the past 25 years, Dana has had a number of recurring roles on television shows: Officer Gary McDermott on Crisis Center (1997), Rich Rinaldi in Dawson’s Creek (2002-2003), Tony in The Kill Point (2007), and Jimmy in Crash (2009).
In addition to these television roles and others, Ashbrook has appeared in a number of movies: Tom Essex in Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988), Tony in Waxwork (1988), Lloyd in The Aggression Scale (2012), Westmark in Late Phases (2014), and Gary in The Opposite Sex (2014) etc. He continues to act in television and film to this day, but a big moment for him was when Twin Peaks returned in 2017.
In the years leading up to the official announcement of the revival of Twin Peaks, the cast members were just as abuzz as the general public wanting to know whether or not a revival was happening.
Dana once recalled texting with Sheryl Lee before boarding a plane on his way to the UK Twin Peaks festival, the two were making plans to meet up once they arrived.
On her way to the airport, Lee spoke with Lynch who confirmed the Twin Peaks revival was in fact happening and told her to let Ashbrook know.
If you’ve seen Season 3 of Twin Peaks, you’ll know that it is a lot different from the Twin Peaks of the early 1990’s. In the interim, David Lynch has directed many strange films, such as Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, and Inland Empire, to name but a few.
Season 3 of Twin Peaks, AKA The Return, brings back many of the actors we knew from the original series – Cooper, Ben, Jerry, Bobby, Shelly, Hawk, Nadine, Norma, Hank, Laura, James, and more – but the vibe is certainly far different than we’ve seen it previously. It’s far darker, and it centers around Dale Cooper having splintered into two versions of himself – pure innocence and pure evil, and both are running loose, for all these years since the shocking end of Twin Peaks: Season 2. (Remember: “How’s Annie?”)
In the 25 years since we last saw Ashbrook in his role, Bobby Briggs has undergone many changes, and is now an esteemed member of the Twin Peaks community and deputy in the Sheriff’s department working alongside Deputy Hawk and Sheriff Truman. He’s older, wiser, and seems to be a force of good now in this dark world of Season 3, where we see the supernatural craziness of Twin Peaks extend into the world at large. But still, someone has to look after Twin Peaks…
Overall, we hope to see Dana in future films and television shows, as he has an inimitable style when it comes to acting, combining dramatic turns, unexpected outbursts, comic timing, anger, sadness, and really just the breadth of human emotions. Seeing him in a movie or tv show is always a welcome sight.
Catch him now in Minor Premise, on Amazon Prime., a Cronenberg-esque sci-fi thriller featuring a neuroscientist who must face off against ten fragments of his own psyche.
Watch the trailer here:
Dana Ashbrook has active social media accounts on Twitter (@DanaAshbrook) and Instagram (@DanaAshbrook), as well as Facebook.