65 Things You Didn’t Know About David Lynch

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On the occasion of David Lynch’s 65th birthday (and with the 25th anniversary of his masterpiece Blue Velvet coming up this September), Flavorpill presents 65 obscure facts about the renegade director/writer/photographer/musician/artist. Enjoy!

1. By the time he was 14, David Lynch had already lived in six different cities and five different states: Montana, Idaho, Washington, North Carolina, and Virginia.

2. He initially studied to be a painter.

3. Scripts are generally a page per minute of onscreen action, but the script for Eraserhead (which is 89 minutes long) is only 21 pages.

4. On his 15th birthday, Lynch worked with his fellow Virginia Eagle Scouts seating VIPs in the bleachers outside the White House at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.

5. During the five year production of Eraserhead, Lynch split from his first wife (Peggy Reavey) and married his second (Mary Fisk).

6. The idea for the title of the film Lost Highway came from a phrase in a novel by Barry Gifford, Night People . Only later on did Lynch find out Hank Williams had written a song called “Lost Highway.”

7. In the early ‘80s, Stanley Kubrick referred to Eraserhead as his favorite film.

8. Lynch has directed a number commercials, including ones for Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Playstation 2, and a Japanese coffee company.

9. Along with Twin Peaks, his other television work includes the short-lived ABC show On the Air, about a 1950s TV network, and the HBO miniseries Hotel Room.

10. The first half of his 2001 film Mulholland Drive was originally made as a pilot for ABC, before later being completed as a film.

11. From 1983 to 1992, Lynch wrote and drew a comic strip featured in the Village Voice and LA Reader, among others, called The Angriest Dog in the World.

12. His favorite painter is Francis Bacon.

13. He has been trying to make a film called Ronnie Rocket since the late ’70s, but everyone who has read the script has passed on it.

14. Lynch has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for the past 38 years. He says TM lifted away the anger he felt.

15. He is attempting to raise $7 billion to include Transcendental Meditation in the curriculum of schools across the country.

16. The coffee aficionado has his own brand of organic coffee called “David Lynch Signature Cup.”

17. For a time, he was giving a daily weather report on his website and his YouTube channel.

18. Lynch directed a short teaser video for Michael Jackson’s 1993 short films collection, Dangerous.

19. He collaborated with Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse on a book/CD called Dark Night of the Soul .

20. In 1980’s Heart Beat, a film about Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady that starred Nick Nolte and Sissy Spacek, Lynch had an uncredited role as a painter. He provided his own paintings for the film.

21. He has three children by three different women.

22. Lynch is currently on his fourth marriage (Emily Stofle).

23. He dated Blue Velvet star Isabella Rossellini from 1986 to 1991.

24. Lynch took the job directing Dune only after producer Dino De Laurentiis agreed to give him full creative control over his next film, which turned out to be Blue Velvet. He has had final cut on every one of his films since.

25. French fries and grilled cheese were near-everyday staples of his diet on the set of Eraserhead.

26. It took five years to make his first feature, Eraserhead. Lynch put much of his own money into the production.

27. One of his college roommates was Peter Wolf, who would go on to gain fame as lead singer of the J. Geils Band (“Centerfold”).

28. His daughter, Jennifer Lynch, directed the 1993 film Boxing Helena, and Surveillance, which had a limited theatrical release in 2009.

29. He claims to have eaten lunch at Bob’s Big Boy in Los Angeles nearly every day for eight years straight, from 1976 to 1984. He would have a chocolate shake and several cups of coffee with lots of sugar. The ensuing rush gave him lots of ideas. He calls it “granulated happiness.”

30. He served as Grand Jury President of the Cannes Film Festival in 2002. Roman Polanski’s The Pianist won that year’s Golden Palm.

31. Lynch was originally offered the chance to direct Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He didn’t feel he was the right fit for the job.

32. The Elephant Man‘s executive producer Stuart Cornfeld dubbed Lynch “Jimmy Stewart from Mars.” This quote is often falsely attributed to Mel Brooks.

33. His parents met at Duke University.

34. He voices the character of Gus the Bartender on The Cleveland Show. The character is based on him.

35. He is a fan of the Bourne trilogy. He likes the first one the best.

36. George Lucas asked Lynch to direct Return of the Jedi. Lynch passed, telling him, “You should direct this. It’s your thing! It’s not my thing.” Instead, he directed Dune.

37. He planned on making two more films about Twin Peaks, but since the first was unsuccessful, plans for followups were scrapped.

38. In an interview with MTV, he claims that after shooting Inland Empire digitally in 2006, he will never go back to shooting on film.

39. When Roy Orbison first saw the way his song “In Dreams” was used in Blue Velvet, he didn’t like it, but after being convinced to see the film a second time, he began to appreciate it.

40. The DVDs for Lynch’s last two films, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire, don’t have scene-selection options, because he feels that films should always be watched from beginning to end.

41. In the press kit for Wild at Heart, his biography was just four words long: “Eagle Scout, Missoula, Montana.”

42. When he was little, Lynch would draw and paint often, mostly drawing submachine guns.

43. Most of the Twin Peaks exteriors were filmed in Snoqualmie and North Bend, WA. Explains executive producer Mark Frost, “We developed the town before the people. We drew a map. We knew it had a lumber mill.”

44. In the ninth grade, Lynch met Toby Keeler, in the front yard of his girlfriend’s house. Toby’s father was a painter — Bushnell Keeler. Seeing that someone could have a career as a painter inspired Lynch to decide to become a painter. Of the encounter, Lynch later said, “Toby did two things: he told me that his father was a painter, which completely changed my life, and he also stole my girlfriend!”

45. In the early ’70s, after marrying his first wife Peggy, they bought a 12-room house in a horrible Philadelphia neighborhood. It cost only $3,500.

46. For his short film The Grandmother, he and sound engineer Alan Splet recorded all of their own sound effects. It took 63 days.

47. Hesitant because of Dennis Hopper’s troubled/insane reputation, he initially passed on the actor to play Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.

48. For part of the 5-year-long Eraserhead shoot, Lynch supported himself with a paper route, delivering the Wall Street Journal. The shoot was entirely at night, and Lynch would sometimes have to stop filming to go do his route.

49. Childhood friend Toby Keeler once asked Lynch, famous for his refusal to discuss the meanings of his movies, what Wild at Heart is about. Lynch responded, “It’s about an hour and forty-five minutes.”

50. In his review of Blue Velvet, author J.G. Ballard said the film was “like The Wizard of Oz reshot with a script by Franz Kafka and décor by Francis Bacon.”

51. During a lull in the filming of Eraserhead, Lynch’s father and younger brother sat him down and told him it was time to get a job in order to support his wife and daughter.

52. During the making of Eraserhead, he dissected a cat to help give him ideas for textures for the film.

53. Actor Jack Nance appeared in five of Lynch’s feature films, a short film, and Twin Peaks. He died in 1996 at the age of 53, the day after getting into an argument with strangers while intoxicated and being punched in the face outside a donut shop.

54. Jack Nance’s wife at the time Eraserhead was filmed, Catherine Coulson, would go on to play the role of The Log Lady in Twin Peaks.

55. In a meeting with NBC executives to raise money for 1980’s The Elephant Man, Mel Brooks was questioned about the director. “Who is this David Lynch?” Brooks responded, “That just shows what a fucking idiot you are!”

56. Lynch wrote half of a script for a second Dune film, but never finished it, since “Dune was a fiasco and there weren’t any more wanted.”

57. Lynch always buttons the top button of his shirt, because he feels too vulnerable with the top button open.

58. Lynch wrote all the lyrics to every song but one on singer Julee Cruise’s first two albums, released in 1989 and 1993, respectively. Her singing was featured in Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks.

59. He has written two comedy features, Dream of the Bovine and One Saliva Bubble, both of which remain unproduced.

60. Lynch has a finished script for a film adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. He says, “Unfortunately, it’s expensive and it won’t make any money.” In Lynch’s script, the story is set in 1950s America.

61. In Tom DiCillo’s Living in Oblivion, a scene with a dwarf in a red room, in which the actor playing the dwarf complains that the scene is a cliché, is widely considered to be a jab at the dancing-in-reverse dwarf known as The Man From Another Place in Twin Peaks.

62. He attended the American Film Institute with River’s Edge director Tim Hunter. Both River’s Edge and Twin Peaks involve the murder of a high school girl.

63. Woody Allen cited Blue Velvet as his favorite film of 1986.

64. Lynch on the real life inspiration for the opening of Lost Highway: “I woke up one morning and the intercom rang, and a man says, ‘Dave!’ and I said, ‘Yeah,’ and he says, ‘Dick Laurent is dead.’ And I said, ‘What?’ And there was no one there… I don’t know who Dick Laurent is. All I do know is he’s dead!”

65. He refuses to disclose how the baby for Eraserhead was created and what it’s made out of. When asked about it, his responses include, “It was born nearby” and “Maybe it was found.” In general, he says, “Talking about how certain things happened in a film, to me, takes a lot away from the film.”