David Lynch interview: 'Even in the so-called dark things, there's beauty' (2023)

From the darkness of Mulholland Drive to the soaring sweep of Twin Peaks, Angelo Badalamenti created the soundscape that accompanies director David Lynch's vision. The composer died in December 2022, and Lynch has now given an interview to BBC Radio 3's Sound of Cinema. "Even in the so-called dark things, there's a beauty," he tells Matthew Sweet.

Listen to the interview on BBC Radio Three's Sound of Cinema, which airs on 27 May at 3pm BST.

David Lynch: Angelo, he can do anything, he can write any kind of music. He studied all the classical things, but he wrote jingles for a long time, so he can kind of do anything. The secret to Angelo is that if you know what you want, you've got to bring it out of him. It's there in him but you've got to bring it out.

Matthew Sweet: You first met him on the set of Blue Velvet, can you describe how he struck you? Was it love at first sight?

DL: In a way it was – Wilmington North Carolina was where we were. I wanted to get a local band, not a good band, just a local, hard-working band to back up Isabella Rossellini singing Blue Velvet. We were working away, working away and nothing was happening. We've got Fred Caruso to thank because he kept at me: "David. This isn't working, let me call my friend Angelo" but he was calling him Andy then. Angelo went by Andy Bedali in the early days, bless his heart – he sure didn't have to do that, but he did and Fred said, "Andy will come up and make this right." And I said, 'okay bring Angelo up'. And the next morning he worked with Isabella in the lobby of her hotel which had a piano that was there and came at lunchtime and played it for me at the Beaumont house in Blue Velvet. And I said, Angelo, we can cut this into the film just the way it is! It's fantastic!

Lyrics start saying something to Angelo's music brain and out comes this feeling from the lyrics. Because he can do anything, I could say things to him and he'd start playing that. And if I didn't like that, I'd say something different and it would change!

MS: You wrote lyrics for him in Mysteries of Love in Blue Velvet, and I think I can tell that Angelo Badalmenti loved you, because he'd say in interviews, David Lynch gave me these lyrics and they didn't rhyme, they had no hooks, what am I supposed to do with this!

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DL: Angelo is in a way, old school – so I kind of confounded him, and he did like lyrics that rhymed and he did like form, but he could break that form easily if you force him. And bless his heart, this guy could do anything! Another thing, Fred Caruso said, "You're always writing these little things on scraps of paper, why don't you send something up to Angelo?" I said, "Fred! Give me a break!" Anyway, one thing led to another and he wrote Mysteries of Love. And then I said, "okay Angelo – I want you to score this picture." And I'd listen to Shostakovich in A minor all the time writing this, this has got to have this Russian American feel in this film, and he said "okay" and off he went. And then we started working together, big time after that.

MS: Could we hear about what happened when you were in the room together, there is something a bit alchemical about this. The way I've heard him describe it is that you're having a feeling or a dream or a vision and he's next to you translating it into music. What would you have said to him when describing what you wanted as the main theme for Twin Peaks?

DL: Well the main theme of Twin Peaks is Falling. And Falling was a thing Angelo and I wrote and Julee Cruise sang it. We wrote that before, when Twin Peaks was just a dream, only in the beginnings, and I said you guys, this thing is going to be the theme of this show. And they looked at me like, are you crazy?

MS: You describe being in the room…

DL: How it always works with Angelo and me, I know the mood of a thing and the feel of a thing. So, sitting with Angelo, I sit next to him on a bench or close to him always, and I say, "Angelo it's gotta have this kind of a feel". And he closes his eyes and he plays something, and then I say, "no it's gotta be lower, or slower, or more mystery in there", and then he starts playing something else. And then I say, "no that's still too fast, it's not dark enough, it's not heavy and foreboding enough". And then he starts playing something, and it all just comes over him, and I say "that's beautiful Angelo", and I try to psychically pull out the next stuff. But because he caught the first thing, then in the world of music it's logical that these other things follow, and he knows that and there they are and he brings them out, and there it is – no two ways about it.

MS: I feel you're almost reaching for something together. Those climbing piano notes in Laura Palmer's theme, that sustained synth bed below it. Where do you go together, you and he in that music?

DL: Well Angelo goes to the stars for sure. He catches a thing and I'm there as his brother filling the air with this freedom and energy to get it. It's so delicate, the early stages of everything is so delicate, and it just needs to be safe and packed with possibilities so Angelo can find it. Then, when he catches it's so incredible, so incredible.

MS: There's sorrow and a sense of sin in a lot of your music together. Angelo said you brought out his dark side, what did he mean by that?

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DL: I brought out if anything, true Angelo, which is love. The feeling he can get is a heart feeling, full heart, deep love – deep, deep love. Even in the so-called dark things, there's a beauty. It can be foreboding, but there is also something else in there that's bigger. It's truthful.

MS: Let's talk about Lost Highway, a film that gave me nightmares. It's a good example of how the music expresses the nature of the characters, because Bill Pullman's character is a saxophonist and he plays this crazy, wailing riff in a track called Red Bats with Teeth. Did you want that note of derangement that enters this cue? The madness of it.

DL: I think his name is Bob who is this saxophone player, and he's a great saxophone player. We were at Capital Records I believe and Bob was there, riffing. And I would say, "Bob" – and this was like all through Lost Highway, this kind of talk went on – "Bob, I'm gonna go to sleep with the amount of energy you're putting out. You're sending me to sleep, pal". And then he'd look at me funny and he'd play louder, with way more power. I'd say "Bob, I talk about falling asleep, I actually went to sleep during that last one, come on man!" So then, pretty soon, Bob is absolutely insane mad, crazed and he comes up with this thing. And he really loved it. Angelo was there, but it was more up to Bob to find that thing in him.

MS: Mulholland Drive, your Hollywood noir, makes the space of the LA bungalow one of its theatres of operation. You and Angelo are both credited as composers for this, why is that? Why are you there too in this one?

DL: Again, I'm working with Angelo and sometimes I – I don't meant to trick Angelo or anything like that, but I'll say something like, "play Shostakovich", so Angelo will start playing. Then I'll say, "play Wagner, Angelo". And then he'll start playing Wagner, and somewhere in there there's these notes that fly and I'll say "Angelo, what is that thing right there?", so then Angelo plays that, and his eyes pop open, and he plays it again and plays it again and he finds this thing or that thing. And then we had two things that were quite good, but they didn't feel finished and I said "Angelo, why don't we play both of them together?" and his eyes widen up and he thinks and he plays both of them together and that's the theme of Mulholland Drive. And he wrote some beautiful things for that film. We find them, together, because in the world of music, there's a thing called common sense. You can't just give the music over to somebody. They can be in another house, another state, another country. They see the film unfinished, and then you can't expect them to write a thing that you'd plug in that's going to work. Once in a while maybe, but it has to pass through one person, and that's the filmmaker. It's not an ego thing, it's so that it all holds together. You can't let the set designer design that, and the music person design the music and the editor design the editing. It's just ridiculous, they're there to help you. The filmmaker makes the final decisions on all these things, and talks to people and gets them to zero in on the ideas that you're trying to translate into cinema.

MS: Angelo was a schoolteacher before he was a composer. He taught music and he taught English, what did he teach you?

DL: Angelo brought me into the world of music, he opened up a whole world for me. I played the trumpet in junior high, and I had to quit playing trumpet in high school because in order to play the trumpet in school, you had to be part of the marching band and go to school at six in the morning and practise marching to go to some football game!

MS: You didn't fancy that idea?

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DL: It was horrible, so I quit! I said, "you're kidding me, I'm not getting up at 5 in the morning" so Angelo brought me into the world of music and opened up this world that was so incredible, and Angelo and I would talk. He lived in New Jersey and I live in LA, and we would talk on the phone pretty god darn regularly, since I met him. We were like brothers, I just love Angelo, I just love him. And when he passed over, went to the other side, it struck me harder than – so many people have died that I've worked with, I miss every one of them, and I just don't see why people have to die. But Angelo, it really hit me. I'm not going to be able to call Angelo on the phone, I'm not going to be able to hear his voice anymore, I'm not going to be able to work with him. All this music that's in him, it's not going to come out. It's just horrible.

MS: I've noticed that all the way through this conversation David, you've referred to him in the present tense.

DL: You have to keep Angelo alive. I believe life is a continuum, and that no one really dies, they just drop their physical body and we'll all meet again, like the song says. It's sad but it's not devastating if you think like that. Otherwise I don't see how anybody could ever, once they see someone die, that they'd just disappear forever and that's what we're all bound to do. I'm sorry but it just doesn't make any sense, it's a continuum, and we're all going to be fine at the end of the story.

MS: Is he there in the music you compose now? Say if I listen to the music you composed on your own, like Inland Empire, can I hear his influence?

DL: You might. There's certain things that I like, that Angelo liked and played, and if those ever come out, someone would say Angelo wrote that, there's certain things, but really the number one thing Angelo can do is beauty and love. He can tear your heart out, he can make you weep like a baby, just pull the heartstrings Angelo can do, just a beautiful soul he is and so talented.

MS: I want to do something social, in our minds, I want you and Angelo to go out for lunch together.

DL: Angelo is Italian, so it's like pasta, spaghetti and meatballs, that's Angelo, when he calls a sauce gravy. I associate Angelo with really good Italian food.

MS: What's the best dinner you had with him? You and he out together, can you remember a really good night out together?

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DL: After The Straight Story screened at Cannes Film Festival, Angelo and I, and Harry Dean and a bunch of people went to this petite bar at the Carlton Hotel. And we were having some wine and some hors-d'oeuvres, Harry Dean suddenly said something about a dream he had. A dream he had of chocolate bunnies. So Angelo and I laughed, and then Harry Dean said another sentence, coupled on top of what he had said that was funny to us, and now this sentence, it got us another laugh, even bigger than the first. And then Harry Dean said a third thing and it made us laugh even harder and then Harry Dean said a fourth thing, and Angelo and I found ourselves laughing even harder still. And Harry Dean said 17 things that night! So Angelo and I almost died! We couldn't laugh any more. It was painful, all the laughter tears were gone and we were just dying! And we talk about this. No stand-up comic has every come close to this, for us. How did Harry Dean Stanton do this? Also Angelo and I would talk about Martin Luther King as this poet, who had this way of speaking that was like music, and was built like music, more and more and then this cosmic feeling comes more and more until you want to cry because it's so beautiful and profound, this kind of thing we would talk about.

MS: Do you find that you still talk to him?

DL: I talk to Angelo all the time.

MS: Can I ask what you say? Can I ask what you ask him?

DL: I just talk to him like, I talk to him about the weather, or Angelo you play this thing so beautifully when I listen to his old stuff. I still have a bunch of things and he's just alive still for me.

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Who is David Lynch married to? ›

Why is David Lynch important? ›

David Lynch, in full David Keith Lynch, (born January 20, 1946, Missoula, Montana, U.S.), American filmmaker and screenwriter who was known for his uniquely disturbing and mind-bending visual work. His films juxtapose the cheerfully mundane with the shockingly macabre and often defy explanation.

Does David Lynch have children? ›

What is it like to work with David Lynch? ›

' It's like you're on an escalator into a cloud with him, you never know where the escalator lets off.” That has to be daunting as an actor. But it could be exciting at the same time to uncover a story together. In talking about Inland Empire, Theroux said, “The crew [David Lynch] assembles are great.

Is David Lynch a vegetarian? ›

Lynch began his interest in Transcendental Meditation during the film's production, adopting a vegetarian diet and giving up smoking and alcohol consumption.

Is Jennifer Lynch any relation to David Lynch? ›

Jennifer Chambers Lynch (born April 7, 1968) is an American filmmaker. The daughter of filmmaker David Lynch, she made her directorial debut with the film Boxing Helena in 1993.

Does Quentin Tarantino like David Lynch? ›

When David Lynch took his surrealism to new heights with Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in 1992, he divided audiences. Tarantino was firmly in the camp that hated his David Bowie-fronted epic.

Why did David Lynch say no to therapy? ›

David Lynch was told by a therapist his creativity could suffer from therapy, so he stopped going. Therapy as currently conceived is only as good as what the therapist can say.

What makes David Lynch different? ›

The filmmaking style of David Lynch is so idiosyncratic that the term "Lynchian" has become common parlance in the film world. Some define Lynchian as surreal or dreamlike, others as confusing and devoid of meaning. Like nightmares, Lynch's films use abstract visuals and nonsensical narratives to explore real issues.

Who was David Lynch inspired by? ›

How old is David Lynch today? ›

Why did David Lynch stop making movies? ›

So many films were not doing well at the box office even though they might have been great films and the things that were doing well at the box office weren't the things that I would want to do.”

What is Lynch salary? ›

He earns £ 84,500.00 a year as a basic salary, plus pension contributions and full expenses paid for and a Bonus paid on performances ... Every Day he holds a Strike, He loses £ 0 & gets paid a bonus for his work ...

What techniques does David Lynch use? ›

According to Rebecca Paiva's critical essay ''The Lynch Film'', the director uses bizarre camera angles. For example, he might position the camera in the corner of a room or under a table or shoot through a crystal ball. He also plays with light and shadows in ways that are very different from most filmmakers.

What is David Lynch aesthetic? ›

Often characterized as surrealist and macabre, the atmospheric terror and mind-bending visuals in David Lynch's work define horror.

What does David Lynch eat for breakfast? ›

His daily menu consisted of a simple breakfast: cappuccino in the mornings. Although at other times he had many coffees throughout the day. For lunch, one of his most recurrent meals was “tomatoes, tuna, feta cheese and olive oil”, and he emphasised that he ate it “every day”.

Who is the richest vegetarian? ›

Mukesh Ambani is the richest vegetarian on the planet.

Is Mark Zuckerberg a vegetarian? ›

Zuckerberg has embraced the economics of more sustainable localized food production; he decided that if he is going to eat animals, that butchering his own meat locally made the most sense to him. He explained a bit about his new insight into food and agriculture: “I'm eating a lot healthier foods.

What ethnicity is David Lynch? ›

Two of Lynch's maternal great-grandparents were Finnish-Swedish immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during the 19th century. He was raised as a Presbyterian. The Lynches often moved around according to where the USDA assigned Donald.

Is David Lynch son in Twin Peaks? ›

David Lynch's son was only 7 when he played Pierre Tremond in an episode of Twin Peaks.

Why is it called Eraserhead? ›

The script would have resulted in a roughly 45-minute-long film, which the AFI felt was too long for such a figurative, nonlinear script. In its place, Lynch presented Eraserhead, which he had developed based on a daydream of a man's head being taken to a pencil factory by a small boy.

Did Kubrick like Pulp Fiction? ›

The report of his love for Pulp Fiction comes from Eyes Wide Shut screenwriter Frederic Raphael, who recounts in the clip below that Kubrick recommended Pulp Fiction to him and stated: “He admired it very much, he said 'it's pretty good, okay?”.

What is Tarantino's favorite director? ›

Howard Hawks is one of Tarantino's favorite directors and has influenced several of his films including Pulp Fiction.

What does Tarantino think his best movie is? ›

During an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, the 59-year-old filmmaker was asked to pick his best film ever. “For years people used to ask me stuff like that,” Tarantino said. “And I would say something like, 'Oh, they're all my children. ' I really do think Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is my best movie.”

What is the most controversial therapy? ›

Aversion therapy, also called aversive therapy or aversive conditioning, is a controversial type of treatment.

Is no therapy better than bad therapy? ›

People who've been to a bad therapist can tell you: bad therapy is worse than no therapy at all. A bad therapist can shut down your healing process instead of helping it along. Bad therapy can even be destructive, either re-traumatizing you or causing new psychological harm.

Why do clients quit therapy? ›

Many people start to feel better and believe that it's okay to leave therapy. Sometimes clients have unrealistic expectations about how treatment works and discontinue therapy when the reality doesn't match up. The cost of treatment can be a barrier to keeping clients in therapy.

Is David Lynch a transcendentalist? ›

TWICE A DAY, when he wakes up around 6:30 in the morning and again around 3 in the afternoon, filmmaker and artist David Lynch practices Transcendental Meditation (TM). He's been doing it since 1973.

Who is David Lynch's favorite director? ›

His favourite directors include Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, Billy Wilder, Werner Herzog and Jacques Tati. “If I have to choose films that represent, for me, examples of perfect film making, I think I could narrow it down to four.

What directors like David Lynch? ›

David Lynch and Robert Eggers

Robert Eggers matches a lot of Lynch's surrealism and powerfully disturbing imagery. Eggers' films, like The Witch and The Northman, are often based on old folktales and visions from the past.

Is David Lynch a postmodernist? ›

As a postmodern film-maker David Lynch deals especially sex and violence issues in his own movies.

What genre of film is David Lynch? ›

Known for his surrealist films, he has developed his own unique cinematic style which has been dubbed "Lynchian" and is characterized by its dream imagery and meticulous sound design.

Was David Lynch asked to direct Star Wars? ›

George Lucas offered surrealist David Lynch the opportunity to direct Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and had one meeting with him to discuss it. When it came time to make Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, creator George Lucas decided to think outside the box for his choice of director.

What is David Lynch doing 2023? ›

David Lynch to Take Part in Panel Discussion in Cannes With Donovan, Redman (Exclusive) Lynch will appear virtually via an avatar at the 'The Art of Movie Music' talk — hosted by the David Lynch Foundation — at the American Pavilion.

How many Oscars does David Lynch have? ›

List of accolades received by David Lynch
Film awards
Academy Award14
American Film Institute Awards12
British Academy Film Award02
17 more rows

How tall is David Lynch? ›

Does David Lynch live on Mulholland Drive? ›

Celebrities such as Madonna, Jack Nicholson, John Lennon, Roman Polanski, Marlon Brando, Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, and David Lynch himself live or have lived on Mulholland Drive.

Does David Lynch use storyboards? ›

David Lynch usually doesn't work with storyboards “because they lock one into specific shots,” but these were all made for the scenes involving special effects.

What is $8600 a month salary? ›

$8,600 a month is how much a year? If you make $8,600 a month, your yearly salary would be $103,209.60.

How much do employees at Americas Best make? ›

Average Americas Best Contacts and Eyeglasses hourly pay ranges from approximately $13.26 per hour for Receptionist to $22.45 per hour for Optician.

What is the salary of Aetna CEO Karen Lynch? ›

CVS Health's CEO is Karen Lynch, appointed in Feb 2021, she has a tenure of 2.25 years. Her total yearly compensation is $21.32M , comprised of 7% salary and 93% bonuses, including company stock and options. She directly owns 0.034% of the company's shares, worth $29.35M.

Why is David Lynch so famous? ›

David Lynch, in full David Keith Lynch, (born January 20, 1946, Missoula, Montana, U.S.), American filmmaker and screenwriter who was known for his uniquely disturbing and mind-bending visual work. His films juxtapose the cheerfully mundane with the shockingly macabre and often defy explanation.

What made David Lynch famous? ›

It wasn''t until the film The Elephant Man (1980) that Lynch received his first real taste of critical and commercial success. The film received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Director. More importantly, Lynch became a household name, whose art has reached millions of viewers.

Is David Lynch magical realism? ›

Magic Realism

Lynch's films are noted for their magical realist style. When something outright surreal happens in a Lynch movie, the characters that inhabit his curious alternate world don't question it. This is as prevalent in Eraserhead as any of Lynch's other movies.

Is David Lynch popular in Japan? ›

Somewhat unconventionally, Lynch's popularity began to significantly rise in Japan at a time when his pioneering TV show Twin Peaks became a hit. What ensued was a rather interesting relationship between Lynch's unconventional work and the fandom of a certain Japanese subculture.

Does David Lynch play an instrument? ›

After working closely with longtime composer Angelo Badalamenti and singers like Julee Cruise, Lynch started playing guitar.

Is David Lynch still married? ›

When his current wife, Emily Stofle, an actor who appeared in Inland Empire and Twin Peaks: The Return, became pregnant, he warned her that film would still come first. Their daughter was born when Lynch was 66, and Stofle 35.

Did David Lynch and Isabella Rossellini date? ›

Filmmaker David Lynch and Rossellini were a couple from 1986/1987 to 1990/1991. Rossellini was engaged to English actor Gary Oldman from 1994 to 1996. She has always lived near her fraternal twin sister Isotta Ingrid, while growing up in Rome, Italy or residing in New York City.

Who is Caitlin Lynch husband? ›

Caitlin and her husband, baritone Jonathan Lasch, cofounded Detroit Song Collective, which is dedicated to celebrating the living power of song to move hearts, change lives, and transform the world.

Where is David Lynch living? ›

The film delves into Lynch's past as well as his use of transcendental meditation in the process of forming ideas. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Today, his works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

Who is Nancy Grace's husband? ›

Marriage and motherhood

In April 2007, Grace married David Linch, an Atlanta investment banker, in a small private ceremony. The two had met while she was studying at Mercer University in the 1970s.

Is Kelly Lynch still married? ›

Lynch has been married to producer and writer Mitch Glazer since 1992 and has a daughter, Shane, born in 1985, from a previous relationship.

Who is the hooded figure in Twin Peaks? ›

The Giant is a character from the television series Twin Peaks, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. He is played by Carel Struycken. Struycken also appears in the 2017 revival as The Fireman, although the series does not explicitly state whether he is the same character as the Giant.

Who was Lynch's first wife? ›

His first wife, Peggy Reavey, who'd been integral to his early work, spoke of married life during the Eraserhead shoot. On it, Lynch had an affair with Doreen Small.

Who did Ingrid Bergman have a child with? ›

Who is Caitlin Lynch? ›

Violist and Grammy Award recipient Caitlin Lynch has performed across the globe in collaboration with artists from Itzhak Perlman to Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood. She is violist of the Aeolus String Quartet, and a member and co-Artistic Director of the conductorless chamber orchestra A Far Cry.

Why did David Lynch retire? ›

So many films were not doing well at the box office even though they might have been great films and the things that were doing well at the box office weren't the things that I would want to do.”


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