In Giant Little Ones, actor Kyle MacLachlan plays a gay divorced dad named Ray Winter parenting a distant teenage son, Franky (Josh Wiggins), whos grappling with his own sexual identity. I repeat: Kyle MacLachlan, a gay dad. The 60-year-old actors range knows absolutely no bounds, inhabiting diversified worlds and traversing genre, from comedy to drama, from soapy to supernatural.

MacLachlans first major role was in David Lynchs 1984 adaptation of Dune (soon, Call Me By Your Name actor Timothée Chalamet will be slipping into MacLachlans stillsuit for the forthcoming remake) and two years later, in 1986, he collaborated with the screen auteur again on Blue Velvet, starring alongside Isabella Rossellini. But it was Lynchs early-90s cult TV series Twin Peaks that arguably made MacLachlan a marquee name (in 2017, he reprised his role as Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks: The Return).

In his three decades in TV and film and on stage, MacLachlan has played a city official based on first big-city openly gay Mayor Sam Adams, Fred Flintstones boss, the guy who fucks Nomi Malone in a swimming pool, Rileys dad in Inside Out, Charlottes husband on Sex and the City, Bree Van de Kamps husband on Desperate Housewives, and because why the hell not: Cary Grants ghost. Starring in writer-director Keith Behrmans Giant Little Ones as Helpful Gay Dad was really just an inevitably, but for MacLachlan, Ray is a warm hug of a role he deeply feels is important. One that, as a parent himself, even hits close to home.

Here, the actor talks about raising his son, Callum, much like Ray Winter does, gay fans who slip into his DMs and bears who love his rosé.

Youve played dads before. But what about Ray spoke to you differently?

He had a journey in this as well, which I liked. It was really about the connection with his son, and at that age its very difficult and made even more challenging by the fact that the parents are separated. Under the circumstances, Franky just doesnt know what to think or what to say, and I like that (Ray) really hung in there. I think in the original draft he was maybe a little more demanding, and so we kind of softened that a little bit. There are still those issues, but it was really important to me to feel like Ray was there and he wasnt gonna go anywhere and to remain as non-judgmental as possible.

His presence is always felt, but hes able to give his kid space at the same time. I appreciated that he tells his son to focus on who youre drawn to and not what to call it, essentially letting him know that sexuality is a spectrum. How did that resonate with you?

That was a really nice piece of writing on Keiths part, I thought. Again, trying not to judge. Especially at that age, I remember for myself just kind of trying to find where you fit in, what youre good at, what youre not good at, whos your group. Theres lots and lots of questions and insecurities that are masked by a false sense of identity or control or I dont want to hear what you say, Ive got it figured out myself.The idea of just being present, its the way I approach the relationship with my son, the not judging. Im not going at it trying to make him into something he doesnt want to be.

You were the stepfather of a gay son, Andrew Van de Kamp, on Desperate Housewive. Who does the better job parenting a queer kid: Orson Hodge or Ray Winter?

(Laughs) Orson, bless his heart. You know, he had good intentions, and there was an understanding there at attempting to connect. I dont think Orson was ever comfortable in that role. I think Ray is more conscious and hes a champion, in some ways, for anyone whos being judged. In this particular case, its hang on a second.Hes sort of about turning the page: Lets look at this and whats really happening here.I liked that. And he does it with an inner strength and a firmness, but its not without a wry sense of humor, and that I liked about him too.

When were your eyes first opened to having an LGBTQ following?

I think it was probably with Blue Velvet, I guess. Thematically it expected so much of the audience and it told a story that was so unusual and so true. That sort of started it, but I think with the advent of social media, suddenly its really obvious and present. And its great.

How has it become obvious through social media?

Just through comments, and its fun to read and great to feel the support. And then because so much of it is built around David Lynch, theres a real shorthand just in terms of terminology and phrases, and because of Davids visuals and his images and his dialogue, of course.

I have a friend who says Blue Velvet was responsible for his sexual awakening. Is that what gay fans tell you on Twitter?

(Laughs) Maybe not quite so personal! But you know, thats film. Film is all about experiencing something and having your eyes opened, and I think that film in particular was about that; the exploration of it and the themes of it were so interesting, and they hadnt really been dealt with that much.

What kind of attention did Showgirls get you from the LGBTQ community?

(Laughs) I dont think it found its camp niche until a little bit later. It had to go through the Oh my god, this is perhaps one of the worst films ever madereaction and then people sort of said, I think it was, in a way, a guilty pleasure.Then that began to grow, and theres a true hardcore following of it and thats really fun. Ive never said, Oh yeah, in fact, actually, that was the intention,or, Oh yeah, its a great film” – its not a great film. But it succeeds at a level that I think is still entertaining and fun. And why not? Thats our business.

I was at a gay bar once and they were showing Showgirls on all the TVs. When you shot that film, did you expect for it to live on in the LGBTQ community like it has?

I think we all entered into the film – certainly, I did – looking at the creative side of it. So you had really talented people – (director) Paul Verhoeven, obviously and I think his intention was to do something that was sort of hard and cutting-edge and exposé and I think it kind of got away from him a little bit and became something else that was unexpected. But at the same time, weve all embraced it and said, This is where it went,and I gotta say, the film was probably gonna have a much longer life because of how it ended up than if it hadnt. If it was a film that we intended to make, it wouldve been great and fine and OK, but now, it will live on forever.

Particularly at gay bars.

At least there! And midnight showings!

For 2004s rom-com Touch of Pink, what was special about portraying the ghost of Cary Grant who gives advice to a gay Muslim man?

It was really fun. First of all, just the research alone was great. Getting to watch all the films, reading up about him, who he was as a person and the business side of things in Hollywood and how he really, really created this persona, which I think he tried to get away from but it was what he was known for. So I loved the research of it.

And the director, Ian (Iqbal Rashid), whose story this actually was, was so lovely and I see him occasionally when Im in London. Hes just a terrific person and a very, very talented director, and I was flattered. He had actually seen me on the stage doing a new play with Woody Harrelson and I dont quite know how he got there from that performance (laughs), but he thought Id be perfect. So thats a pretty big mantle to try to take on, and so we sort of softened that a little bit and said hes more the spirit of Cary Grant hes not exactly Cary Grant. But I enjoyed stepping in those shoes and trying out that language and that kind of attitude and that whole thing. And its got a beautiful message, and just the ending when he has to let go, its very touching, I think.

In 2018, you were honored with a Dorian acting award by GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, for Twin Peaks: The Return, and in 2009, Desperate Housewives received Outstanding Comedy Series from GLAAD.  Is there something special or distinct about having your work acknowledged by LGBTQ audiences and organizations?

Yeah, those stories, if they can speak to a community and theres a resonance there, thats the goal of this. They should be universal, but I think that if theres a relationship that can be created then were doing a good job; something thats worthwhile that creates an emotional response and a connection, thats really what you want. I mean, thats what I want.

You played the mayor of Portland in Portlandia.  Do you think that character would make a good mayor of Twin Peaks or Wisteria Lane?

(Laughs) He wasnt a really good mayor but he was incredibly enthusiastic! I think that was the fun of it: He always got things a little bit wrong but they kind of ultimately ended up OK, with the help of Fred (Armisen) and Carrie (Brownstein), certainly. But, oh god, at least it would be a lot of fun to have him as a mayor of any community, I think.

Why havent we seen you in more openly gay roles?

(Laughs) Its a good question. You know, the work just kind of comes, and its one of those things where once it sort of filters through a little bit of whatever it does in Hollywood it finds its way into my inbox and you take a look at it.

Have there been gay roles youve turned down?

Its always about the quality of the material, so if it there was, it just wasnt worth telling.

But then you read something like Giant Little Ones.

And you know that it is a beautiful story. I had the reaction that everyone had: This is a story that needed to be told, and for any kids out there who are having this kind of I dont know, I dont knowand they dont have anywhere to turn, its like, well, were not the answer, but were at least an experience to say, Youre not alone.

And a reminder to your own son that his dad is OK with whomever he becomes or wants to be.

In fact, he attends a school in New York and its all about that. Its all about the acceptance of everyone, and its a wonderful thing to watch because that wasnt my experience growing up. Public schools, small town, very conservative. Not unlike the situation of Franky, there was a lot of however tough you areand whatever sports you play,those are your identifiers. Its nice that hes having a completely different experience.

In your spare time, you are a winemaker. Are gay men some of your most loyal rosé buyers?

(Laughs) I should hope so, for gods sake! Rosé is one of those crazy things: It just keeps expanding and people love it and now its not just for summer anymore, its not just for the Hamptons anymore. It can be year-round and, yeah, its been really fun. And yeah, very supportive.

In a queer context bear means a hairy, chubby gay man, so it cant hurt that Pursued by Bearis the name of your brand.

You know, I was really going after the Shakespeare play, obviously, but yeah, not unaware and I thought, thats kind of funny. Thereve been occasions where Ive met a few guys – bears, you know and theyve said, Oh yeah, Ive got this in my cellar.And it cracks me up! Im like, Fantastic, Im glad you like it.Its good wine and it should be enjoyed.