David Lynch On 'Room To Dream'

Jun 17, 2018
Originally published on June 17, 2018 8:42 am
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(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLUE VELVET")

LAURA DERN: (As Sandy Williams) I don't know if you're a detective or a pervert.

KYLE MACLACHLAN: (As Jeffrey Beaumont) Well, that's for me to know and you to find out.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TWIN PEAKS")

MICHAEL ONTKEAN: (As Sheriff Harry S. Truman) And can you ask Norma to stop by a second, Shelly?

MADCHEN AMICK: (As Shelly Johnson) Sure.

MACLACHLAN: (As Special Agent Dale Cooper) Nothing's a sure thing, Shelly.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WILD AT HEART")

DERN: (As Lula Fortune) Hey, baby. I've got a surprise for you.

NICOLAS CAGE: (As Sailor Ripley) Sure. Hey, my snakeskin jacket. Thanks, baby.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Just a few scenes there from "Blue Velvet," "Twin Peaks" and "Wild At Heart" - my personal favorite - all directed by David Lynch, who's finally turned the focus on himself. He's written an autobiography with Kristine McKenna. But because this is David Lynch, it's not your typical Hollywood tell-all. It's called "Room To Dream". And David Lynch joins us now.

Welcome to the program.

DAVID LYNCH: Good to be here, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So why this book now?

LYNCH: Well, I don't know, Lulu. It just came up. It was Kristine's idea, and she does these interviews with lots and lots of different people that were part of my life. And I read what they say, and I basically tell them they remembered it wrong, and I tell them how it really was.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right. She writes one chapter in a sort of very typical biographical way where she's interviewed a lot of your friends and family about a particular period in your life, and then you give your own reflections on the same period in the next chapter. Even though this is not a tell-all book in a typical Hollywood tale, I was struck by the anecdote with Elizabeth Taylor. Can you tell us that story?

LYNCH: I was at a party put on by an agent named Swifty Lazar at Spago restaurant here in L.A., and he threw a party - Oscar party - every year. So I'm there. I had been nominated for "Blue Velvet," and I came in, said hello to, you know, John Huston. And then Elizabeth Taylor looks at me and she said, I love "Blue Velvet." And I said, well, I wish I had won tonight because Oliver Stone had won. And I said, you gave the award - the Best Director award - and Oliver Stone got to kiss you. And she moved her finger, beckoning me to come to her. So I went around, and she tilted her head back and closed those violet eyes, and I started sinking down, closer and closer and closer, till my lips touched hers. She has these pillow lips - a deep, deep, deep, most fantastic kiss of Elizabeth Taylor.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wow. I want to take you back. This book starts at the beginning, when you were a child, and it describes this sort of 1950s, almost like "Ozzie And Harriet" - safe. There was room to roam and invent. And you credit this as sort of a seminal proving ground in your life that allowed you to sort of be the creative person that you became.

LYNCH: It was a different kind of feeling in the air. It was like a feeling of optimism. I always say it just was sort of represented by this fantastic chrome on the cars and birth of rock ā€™nā€™ roll. And look at some of the interiors of homes while you're listening to that music and see how people dressed and see these faces, it would start coming to you, a feeling of that time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'd like to talk about how you portray women and sex because you've been criticized because oftentimes your female protagonist in your films are victims of violence and obsession. The women are often beaten or dead. Why is that?

LYNCH: I always say the women in my films don't represent all women. They represent that particular character, that woman, and these things are happening to that woman. It's part of the story. And a lot of ideas come conjured by the world we live in. So it's that particular woman, and it doesn't represent all women.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right, but your work you've said sort of comes out of your own nightmares and dreams and history, as much of creative work does. So what is the genesis of that if you keep coming back to those themes?

LYNCH: It doesn't come from my dreams. I never hardly ever have gotten any ideas from dreams or my obsessions sort of. It's ideas that I fall in love with. You know, you would fall in love with different ideas. But when you get one that you're in love with, you're set, you're rocking, and you're ready to go. And you know exactly what to do.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hearing you speak, I think I should remind our listeners that you of course are very into meditation. In this book, you talk about it a lot, that you started in the 1970s, and you credit that for a lot of the precision in your work, the fact that you were able to focus so much.

LYNCH: Exactly right. And with this technique, people see things like stress going, anxieties, tensions sadness, depression, hate, rage, need for revenge and fear start to automatically lift away.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think what would be surprising to people who don't know that this is something that is one of your core beliefs and you have a foundation dedicated to this is you're talking about joy and releasing fear and yet your films deal so much with the other side of this, the sort of darker side.

LYNCH: The artist doesn't have to suffer to show suffering. You can be very, very happy showing suffering on the screen or writing suffering in a book, but you don't have to suffer to do that. And you can be very happy. And that's so important for people to understand. You should understand the suffering, understand the human condition, but you don't have to suffer to show suffering.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was David Lynch - director, artist, teacher. Thank you so much for joining us.

LYNCH: Lulu, thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.