David Lynch is widely considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. His surrealist style and unique view of the world has made him an icon of the modern era—and without his influence, it's fair to say that the past few decades of cinema would NOT be the same.
But the man himself is almost as enigmatic as his works. For example, David Lynch has often expressed a greater interest in painting than filmmaking, even though that hasn't stopped his films from being considered important works of art themselves.
Who is this David Lynch and why is he so unique? Here are some weird and wonderful David Lynch facts to shed light on this expert filmmaker and master of surrealism.
10. David Lynch's Most Experimental Film Is... The Straight Story
The Straight Story sticks out in David Lynch's filmography like a sore thumb—not because it's bad, but because it's a linear film that details an incredible true story.
Even though The Straight Story is a wide departure from the usual surrealist approach he takes when crafting his movies, that's exactly why David Lynch believes it to be his most experimental film.
What makes it even more special from his other films is that Lynch didn't contribute to the script, making The Straight Story the only film of his that he hasn't personally written. The script was given to him by Mary Sweeny—whom he'd later marry and divorce—and he decided to make it his next project after falling in love with it.
The Straight Story ended up in the hands of Disney, who distributed the film in the US and added it to their family-friendly roster. Is it weird to think that a David Lynch movie is sitting on a shelf at Disney? We think so, especially because he loves "factories and nude women."
9. David Lynch Is an Eagle Scout
By his own account, David Lynch enjoyed a happy childhood and had little of the type of trauma that other great artists boast of. He was raised in a wholesome family, where his father Donald Lynch worked for the US Department of Agriculture.
During his formative years, David Lynch was a member of The Boy Scouts of America and rose through the ranks to become an Eagle Scout. (An Eagle Scout is the highest rank one can attain, requiring one to earn 21 merit badges at minimum.)
He's proud of it, too, as we can see on his official Twitter profile where he describes himself as "Filmmaker. Born Missoula, MT. Eagle Scout."
8. David Lynch Doesn't Watch Many Films
By David Lynch's own account, he's said that he doesn't actually watch many films these days. Quite a shock to hear from a man who's considered to be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time!
Why doesn't he? Well, it seems he'd prefer to concentrate his efforts on a variety of other personal projects. Lynch is known to be a keen painter, musician, and author, so there's plenty for Lynch to do in his day than find time to watch modern movies.
When he's been asked about his favorite filmmakers, David Lynch often cites the Coen brothers, Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, and Billy Wilder. So, nobody under the age of 60...!
7. David Lynch Hosts a Daily Weather Report & Random Number Draw on YouTube
As strange as it may seem, David Lynch has been hosting a daily weather report from his Los Angeles home since May 11, 2020. In it, he simply details a weather forecast in his area for the next 24 hours. He's also been hosting a daily number draw since August 17, 2020.
There's no real explanation as to why he started doing either of these, but he hasn't missed a day since he started—not even on Christmas—and he's never changed his delivery in either.
As weathermen and random number generators go, David Lynch is certainly one of the more interesting.
6. David Lynch Went to Europe Hoping to Study Painting Under Oskar Kokoschka
As a Renaissance man, David Lynch has been recognized as a lover of many art forms. His projects over the years have made him one of the few people working in Hollywood today who can truly be considered a "real artist" beyond the film industry.
Lynch's first love may shock dedicated cinephiles, because it's not filmmaking—it's painting. In fact, when Lynch was a younger and more adventurous man, he traveled to Europe with a friend in hopes of studying under the Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka.
Their original plan had been to spend years in Europe, but when they got to Austria, they learned that Kokoschka couldn't take them on as students because he didn't have a school. Both of them returned to the US after just a few weeks.
Lynch has since expressed that he has no idea why he wanted to study under Kokoschka. We'll put it down to the fires of youth.
5. David Lynch Has Never Detailed the Meaning of Mulholland Drive
David Lynch's magnum opus Mulholland Drive was originally conceived as a TV pilot that was bought and filmed by ABC.
They ended up hating Lynch's work and canceled it—which Lynch was almost happy about, since even he hated his cut of the pilot. Later, Lynch got StudioCanal to finance Mulholland Drive as a film instead, and the rest is history...
But despite all the debate surrounding the film's ending and hidden meanings, Lynch himself refuses to talk about Mulholland Drive in interviews. Even after all these years, he wants the audience to decide for themselves what the film's message is.
As of this writing, Mulholland Drive turns 20 this year. The various interpretations of its real meaning remain a mystery to all except the acclaimed filmmaker who has only made one film since.
4. David Lynch Filmed Eraserhead for Less Than $100,000
While David Lynch was studying at the AFI Academy in Los Angeles, he got into an argument with people there over another one of his projects called Gardenback. That argument led to him quitting the school.
However, he was convinced to come back by Frank Daniel—the head of the school at the time—with a promise that he would get what he needed for any other project.
That project was Eraserhead. Eraserhead started with a $10,000 grant from the school, but still stagnated for years as Lynch struggled to fund the film to completion.
He ultimately managed to scrounge those funds—from his father, friends, and others—and Eraserhead went on to earn $7 million gross revenue at the box office.
3. David Lynch Was Offered the Chance to Direct Return of the Jedi
"It was around this time I started to get a headache."David Lynch on being shown the plans for Return of the Jedi
David Lynch has recanted on more than one occasion how he was asked by George Lucas himself to helm production for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Lynch hated the idea before he even met with Lucas, but still decided to meet with Lucas for discussion because, in his own words, "George's films make hundreds of billions of dollars."
Lynch often tells the story of his worsening headache as Lucas showed him what Wookies were. He turned Lucas down, then called his lawyer to forward the news—to which Lynch marks the response, "You just lost I don't know how many millions of dollars."
2. David Lynch Hated Dune's Final Cut and Didn't Want His Name Credited
The Dune movie might be one of the only films by David Lynch that hasn't gotten better with age. But there's a good reason for that, at least according to Lynch himself.
That reason? Because all creative control was taken from him during the making of the film, and he was not allowed to have final cut.
This resulted in Lynch requesting that his name not be credited with the release of the film, instead using the pseudonym "Alan Smithee" (a common tradition among directors who disown their films).
He did the same thing with the screenwriting credit, which he had changed to "Judas Booth." This one isn't a traditional pseudonym. It's just a name that Lynch made up.
And even as Denis Villeneuve's 2021 Dune gets hyped up and compared to Lynch's 1984 Dune, Lynch still refuses to talk much about his rendition of Dune. Such is his hatred of it.
1. David Lynch Convinced Laura Dern to Break Her "No Nudity" Rule
Laura Dern is one of the few actors whom David Lynch loves working with. They've known each other since she was 16 years old, and he even has a nickname for her—"Tidbit"—which came about when Lynch, Dern, and Kyle MacLachlan had met to discuss Blue Velvet.
A few years later, when David Lynch and Laura Dern collaborated on Wild At Heart, Lynch already knew of Dern's "no nudity rule" and asked if she would break it for her character in the filn.
After some thought, she agreed to do the nude scenes for Lynch as she understood it was vital to the character.
It marks the only time Laura Dern went nude on film, and it was only because it was David Lynch who asked. Given that she's worked with some of the best in the business, that makes Lynch quite special.