|Twin Peaks character|
|Last appearance||Fire Walk with Me|
|Created by||David Lynch|
|Portrayed by||Lara Flynn Boyle|
|Duration||1990–1991, 1992, 2014|
Donna Hayward is a fictional character in the Twin Peaks franchise. She was portrayed by Lara Flynn Boyle in the television series Twin Peaks (1990–1991) and by Moira Kelly in the films Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) and Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014). She was created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. Making her debut as a main character in the original series, Donna was the best friend of Laura Palmer and she is determined to figure out who Laura's killer is. Donna has a supporting role in the prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which depicts the final week of Laura's life. Donna is referenced numerous times in Jennifer Lynch's novel The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer.
Donna is first seen walking to her locker at school, amused at the sight of Audrey Horne changing into heels and smoking a cigarette a few lockers down. She then went to class and saw a deputy enter the classroom as the teacher was taking attendance, asking if Bobby Briggs was in the class. She looked at Laura Palmer's empty desk and began to cry. She was brought in for questioning before Sheriff Harry S. Truman and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, where she was asked about the picnic with Laura that was filmed by James Hurley, but she insisted that it was recorded by a female hiker. Donna snuck out and went to the Roadhouse, where a fight broke out because of Donna's boyfriend Mike. Donna was escorted to James in the woods. Donna told him that the authorities were looking for him. When they drove off, they were stopped by the sheriff and Agent Cooper. The next morning, Donna expressed guilt she felt for her feelings for James to her mother. She went to the Palmer home, and talked Sarah Palmer, but she began to believe that Donna was her daughter and became hysterical. The next day, she went to the Double R Diner and when Audrey Horne entered, Donna went to speak to her and they talked about Laura's death and Audrey's admiration for Agent Cooper.
The following day, Donna attended Laura's funeral. At school, Donna was doing her makeup when Audrey came in and told her that she was aware of the secrets surrounding Laura's life, including that she had been seeing Doctor Lawrence Jacoby, something that Donna didn't know. Later, she went to the woods with James to find the other half of the necklace that they buried but they could not find it. Donna later went to the Double R Diner with him, where she met Laura's cousin, Maddy Ferguson. She asked Maddy to assist them in their investigation into Laura's death. Later that night, Maddy called Donna and told her that she found a tape in Laura's hiding place. Donna listened to the tape and realized that it was recorded for Doctor Jacoby. She discovers that a tape recorded the night Laura died is missing. James believes that Jacoby must be in possession of it and suggested they go to Jacoby's office to find the tape, and they could lure him out with a "phone call from Laura." Later, she met Maddy and James in the park, the former wearing a blonde wig to make her look identical to Laura. Maddy deceived Jacoby by speaking as Laura on the phone. Donna and James infiltrated his office as he left. Donna found the missing tape and half of Laura's necklace. At Donna's house, they listened to the tape, in which Laura mentioned a "mystery man" who drove a red corvette.
She went to the Double R Diner the next day and met with Maddy. Maddy questioned if they were responsible for a heart attack suffered by Doctor Jacoby. Maddy then informed her that Leland's hair had turned white. Donna called Norma and expressed interest in doing Laura's route for the Meals on Wheels. Donna told Maddy about the Meals on Wheels. Starting on the route, Donna went to the home of an elderly woman named Mrs. Tremond, who told her about the neighbor, Harold Smith and revealed that he was friends with Laura. Smith did not answer so Donna left him a note. Her father told her that Harold Smith called her. They arranged to meet the next day. The next morning, she went to Harold's home and they talked about Laura before he went to his greenhouse to get a flower for Laura's grave. She begins to confide in Harold and starts to develop feelings for him. While looking at Harold's flowers she discovers Laura's secret diary. While having lunch with Harold, Donna offers to tell her life story to him if she could read Laura's diary, but agrees but says that he will read it to her and that it can't leave the room. She snatched the diary and walked outside of Harold's house. He stepped outside and collapsed. Out of guilt, Donna apologizes and returns the diary. Still seeking answers to Laura's murder, Donna and Maddy set up a plan to steal the diary. She met with Harold and discusses a memory she had with Laura when she was a kid where they went skinny-dipping with a group of older boys. She said that this experience was the first time that she fell in love, with one of the boys named Tim. Harold kissed her. When Harold left, Maddy went inside to search for the diary. She tried to distract Harold while Maddy searched for the diary, but their plan was foiled.
Donna reported to the authorities that Harold was in possession of Laura's diary but her claims were met with skepticism as they already discovered a diary at the Palmer house. At the Roadhouse, Donna expressed her guilt and sadness over Harold's suicide. Donna soon reconnects with James. At the diner, Donna heard Deputy Andy saying, "J'ai une âme solitaire," and she questioned him about Mrs. Tremond, but he said this was actually Harold Smith's suicide note and that it meant, "I am a lonely soul." Donna went to Agent Cooper and told him about her and they went to her house, but a different Mrs. Tremond answered the door. She gave an envelope to Donna from Harold, containing a page from Laura's diary, where she described a dream of being in a red room, the mysterious "BOB", and her being aware of her death the following night. Donna went to the Palmer house to deliver a tape for Maddy, and became fearful while listening to Leland's conversation with Maddy's mother as she didn't make it home. James leaves Twin Peaks and Donna soon discovers a connection between her mother and Ben Horne. Intrigued, Donna followed her to the Great Northern Hotel, discovering that she planned to meet Ben Horne. Audrey Horne assists her with her investigation. Upon discovering flowers sent to her mother, Donna finds her birth certificate and discovers that it did not list a father. Donna realizes that Ben Horne is her biological father.
Donna Hayward has a supporting role in the prequel films Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces. In Fire Walk With Me, Donna is first seen walking to school with Laura. After school, they go to Donna's home, where they talk about Bobby Briggs and James Hurley, the latter Donna describes as "the one." The next day, a distraught Laura shows up at Donna's house and asks if she is her best friend. The next night, Donna goes to Laura's house, where Laura is preparing to go out and refuses to tell Donna where she is going. Donna follows Laura to the Roadhouse, and finds out that her best friend is working as a prostitute. Intrigued, Donna enters the Roadhouse and kisses one of Laura's customers. Despite Laura's initial reluctance, Donna goes with her and two men up to a brothel in Canada, where an orgy is taking place. There, Donna refuses an offer of cocaine, but nevertheless joins the party, and eventually takes her shirt off and begins making out with several strange men. Laura pulls one such man off of Donna, covers her up and takes her home. The next day, Laura begs Donna not to become like her.
Donna is referenced numerous times in Jennifer Lynch's novel The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. In Mark Frost's novel Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, it is revealed that upon graduating high school, Donna leaves Twin Peaks to pursue an education at Hunter College in New York City. Soon after, she finds an unexpected career as a fashion model, a job that brings her international recognition. Donna becomes a prominent name in the tabloids, which run sensationalized stories about her love life that eventually overshadow her career. She marries a man twice her age and soon becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol as a means to cope with the decline of her career. After her husband files for divorce, Donna seeks help through substance rehabilitation. After overcoming her addictions, Donna reconnects with her father and comes to live with him as she pursues a degree in nursing.
Mädchen Amick, who portrays Shelly Johnson, originally auditioned for the role of Donna but the part ultimately went to Lara Flynn Boyle. Boyle was unable to reprise her role as Donna in the prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced by Moira Kelly.
In Return to Twin Peaks: New Approaches to Materiality, Theory, and Genre on Television, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock and Catherine Spooner state:
- If Dale Cooper comes under the spell of BOB, then Donna Hayward-a detective in her own right--is both always already and imminently under the spell of the deceased Laura Palmer. In an overarching plot that is replete with splittings and doubles, Donna stands (in) as Laura's melancholic double--which in Freudian terms is to say that she compensates for an incomprehensible loss by incorporating the lost object.
- If something compels Donna to model herself after Laura, and thus to metamorphose in certain performative ways--she wears Laura's sunglasses; she alternates between an innocent dedication to the unfortunate and sexual licentiousness; she claims Laura's angelic boyfriend, James Hurley (James Marshall) and takes the measure of his diabolical double, Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook)--she narrowly escapes Laura's fate at the hands of the possessed Leland Palmer...
Sean T. Collins of Rolling Stone ranked Donna 7th on his list of the 30 Best 'Twin Peaks' Characters stating, "Other images took a tighter hold on audience imaginations, but nothing conveyed the tragedy of Laura Palmer's death like her best friend Donna looking at her empty desk, realizing what it meant, and starting to sob uncontrollably right there in homeroom. Donna was the heart of the high-school-kids material on the show, the character who was the most square and reserved, and also the most cognizant that what happened to Laura could happen to anyone. She gave the dead girl her voice."
- Lynch, Jennifer (2011). The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781451664782.
- Ivie, Devon (November 1, 2017). "Everything That Happened to Twin Peaks Characters in the 25 Years Between Seasons". Vulture. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
- Ulster, Laurie (April 8, 2015). "'Twin Peaks' Turns 25: 7 Fun Facts". Biography.com. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
- Return to Twin Peaks: New Approaches to Materiality, Theory, and Genre on Television. Springer. 2015. ISBN 1-13755-695-1.
- Collins, Sean. "Lynch Mob: 30 Best 'Twin Peaks' Characters". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 18, 2017.