Alternate Title: “Why You Should Admire David Lynch But Not Like Him.” But the truth is that everybody we know who has worked with Mr. Lynch or hung with him or whatever likes him. A lot. Seems selfishness isn’t always what it seems:
by Rory Carroll
David Lynch seldom smiles in photographs. His etched Easter Island statue of a face doesn’t glower so much as brood; lips pursed and eyes hooded, he looks every inch the auteur in winter. The quiff completes the effect, its lush swirl seemingly frozen in place by alarming, Lynchian thoughts.
In his 40 years of film-making, the director has taken audiences from sunlit American idylls to surreal dimensions populated by demons, doppelgangers and psychotic killers. His are scenes you can’t forget: the whimpering, deformed baby in Eraserhead, the severed ear in Blue Velvet, the blood-spattered, skull-crushing violence of Wild At Heart, the nuclear explosion in Twin Peaks: The Return. Google “David Lynch creepy”, and you get 5.5m results.
Lynch works from a studio on a slope above one of three adjacent homes he owns in the Hollywood Hills, just a stone’s throw from Mulholland Drive. He is reclusive and seldom leaves this little realm, let alone grants audiences to journalists – but he is prepared to now, on the eve of publishing an unconventional memoir-cum-biography, Room To Dream. An assistant escorts me through the house (sleek concrete walls and surfaces, floor-to-ceiling shelves of VHS cassettes and CDs) and up through the garden to the studio. A snake slithered across the path earlier this morning, the assistant says.
Lynch sits in a corner, hunched over a lithograph. The tabletop brims with paint pots, lotions, chemicals, gel formula cement, lithographic paper, pneumatic drills, cables, wires and paintbrushes. There is a mug of coffee, a pack of cigarettes. The director wears cracked, ancient boots, ragged chinos and the remnants of a black buttoned-up shirt that looks to have been shredded by a badger.
It’s a scene that might be intimidating were it not for a great, largely untold secret: David Lynch is a cheery, congenial soul who rivals the Simpsons character Ned Flanders for howdy-doody niceness. “Hey, bud!” he greets the assistant, offering me a handshake and wide smile. He laughs, often, and yearns for peace on Earth. “I love my life and I’m a happy camper,” he says. “It would be nice if we were all able to fulfil our desires and live good, long, happy lives.”
The studio is a bunker-like structure of concrete and glass that overlooks a panorama of trees, bougainvillea and villa rooftops. You can feel the morning sun and hear birdsong. “I like it up here, the trees,” Lynch says, speaking with the halting lilt of Gordon Cole, the FBI agent he plays in Twin Peaks (only without the deafness). “It’s a feeling I get in LA, a feeling of freedom. The light, and the way the buildings are not so tall. You can do what you want….”