David Lynch fans are in luck as celebrity interviewer Hikari Takano recently released a 53-minute interview with the director, conducted back in 2006. Topics are the standard fare for a Lynch Interview: from “Mulholland Drive” to “Blue Velvet,” from transcendental meditation to the 1950s.
A good night’s sleep never hurts.
“I still need to sleep…so I have some fuel to go on the next day…a lot of times you work long times, but there comes a point where it’s diminishing returns until you get some sleep. It depends on the schedule, but ideally it’s ‘earlier to bed, earlier to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.'”
“Knowing thyself” comes through meditation.
“You don’t know
yourself by talking to yourself or looking in the mirror. You know
yourself by diving in and experiencing the self. The big self. And when
you grow in that, it all becomes clearer and clearer and clearer. And
you really start unfolding the full potential of the human being. It’s
[laughs]… you can say ‘Well, it’s not for me.’ Whatever! But some people
hear this, and it has such a ring of truth for them, they wish they’d
heard it earlier. They want that experience, they want to grow
rapidly…It’s not a religion and it’s not a cult. It’s so naturally a
part of the human condition.”
He’ll reuse actors, but only if they’re “right for the part.”
“I’m faithful to no one, I’m faithful to trying to get the right person
for the part. If it’s someone I’ve worked with before and love, that’s
beautiful…I’d love to work with Dennis [Hopper] again, he just hasn’t
happened yet…to be right for the part. That’s the only rule.”
His work is surreal, but it isn’t pulled from dreams.
“I always say, I hardly ever have gotten ideas from dreams. I love dream
logic. I love the feel. Ideas come to me from sitting in a char, walking
around, walkin’ down the street, you don’t know when they’re gonna pop
in. An idea isn’t there, and then, bingo, an idea enters the conscious
mind. For me, doing things [is helpful to coming up with ideas].”
Forget the tortured artist stereotype.
“It’s like, hello? It’s so obvious — suffering kills creativity. If you’re sick and you’re vomiting, and you’ve got a splitting headache, how much good work are you gonna do?! You’re not gonna do good work. That’s not feeding anything. That’s blocking everything. You start getting well, the sickness goes. You feel so good, you’re catching ideas and you’ve got the energy to do them now. And you feel god about doing them. That’s the name of the game.”
He rarely reads scripts.
“I don’t have time to read things, and more often than not I like to catch my own ideas. But if someone said, ‘Oh there’s this story,’ and I hear it and I say ‘Wait a minute, I would like to read it,’ just from a few words…something happens, maybe I’d be very interested. I don’t know. It’s funny how it goes.”
Across mediums, his process varies.
“For a film, it comes in fragments…In painting, a lot of times, for me, painting is a thing where I just get one idea that’s enough of a thrill to get me out of the chair and start the process. What I notice there, in painting, is it’s more action and reaction, and the thing starts evolving from its original idea. In film, I get ideas, I write them down, and then I try to translate that and get that thing on film. Along the way, new ideas can come in and join…the puzzle isn’t finished ’till it’s finished…some ideas don’t fit and they’re thrown away.”
Film is holistic.
“A film is trying to get every element to 100%. How absurd would it be if casting were [worth] 90% [of a film’s merit]. Let’s say you got Jack Nicholson and Nicole Kidman. Great cast. But you didn’t have a good story…you had lousy sets, you had horrible music, ridiculous dialogue. How good a movie would that be? Every element is critical!”