Kyle MacLachlan Reveals How He Stripped His Hair for New Role: 'I Looked Like Billy Idol'

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Courtesy Masterpiece

When preparing to play President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the new PBS Masterpiece series Atlantic Crossing, Kyle MacLachlan started from the top. "We were not going to do a wig and I said 'Let's just strip the hair and see what we have.'"

"I'd been coloring my hair for years [beginning with Twin Peaks] with various degrees of success — and a lot of failure," the actor, 62, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue, on newsstands Friday. "I thought it was pretty white at this point and sure enough when we stripped it, I looked like Billy Idol."

"I thought 'Well, it's going to happen sooner or later so it might as well be now,'" he says. "I've embraced it."

Deborah Feingold/Getty Billy Idol, 1984

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The results can be seen in the limited series, premiering April 4 on PBS Masterpiece, which details the little known story of Roosevelt's close friendship and flirtation during World War II with Norway's Crown Princess Martha. "It's a story nobody knows," says MacLachlan.

For more on MacLachlan, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

"We decided early on it was not going to be a prosthetic bonanza, so I thought I'm going to have to do it with the glasses, the hair," he explains of his role as FDR. "The more we moved in the direction, the more I could see him in the mirror and then the mannerisms became important and the voice, but my takeaway was that he loved life and so I wanted to bring that to the role."

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"There's a charm to him that's hard to deny," he notes.

The same could be said for MacLachlan. Even now, three decades after Twin Peaks, he's still surprised how the series and his role as caffeine loving Special Agent Dale Cooper took on a life of its own. He still gets a nod when he goes out for coffee, "serious coffee," he notes. "The baristas, they don't crack a smile, but sometimes when I walk in, I detect the faintest bit of acknowledgement."

Atlantic Crossing premieres Sunday, April 4 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS.