The real Mulholland Drive is a place ‘you can imagine almost anything happening’
when that happens you just go with it.‘
Arotrnd the same time he was being lured back to television by the ABC network which had become intrigued by his idea for a series called .llullrullaml Drive. All Lynch would say about it was that it started with a car crash. an arnnesiac blonde called Rita and
men in suits who demand a certain actress be cast against his better judgement. Are these men studio executives? Are they mobsters‘.’ Their identity is never clarified. but it doesn‘t matter: the point is these heavies are threatening. .Maybe they work for ABC.
It seems unlikely that Lynch will ever return to television after the ABC debacle. ‘At a certain point you realise you’re with the wrong people. Their thinking process is very foreign to me. They like a fast pace and a linear story. btrt you want your creations to come otrt of you and be distinctive. lt‘s possibly true that there are aliens on earth — and they work in television.‘
These kind of musings and Lynch‘s refusal to explain the meanings of his films have given him an air of mystery. Yet upon meeting the man and discovering a little of his daily life and background. you begin to suspect his reputation is fabricated by fanciful types. Lynch lives six months of the year in his Hollywood home designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank) with his partner and collaborator Mary Sweeney and their nine-year-old son Riley. The rest of the time his wife and son escape Hollywood to live in Wisconsin and he visits. His 33-year- old daughter Jennifer (director of Boxing
a starlet called Betty who helps Rita find her true identity. The Iltis to be Helena) has made Lynch a grandfather. executives wanted to know more btrt Lynch declined to divulge. although cannot qtrite bring himself to say it. liventtrally. he was given the green light and duly delivered his surrounded ‘I call myself a great uncle.‘ he says. His
pilot. At two-and-a—half hours. it was ()0 nrintrtes longer than ABC I use third progeny is 17-year—old Austin. was expecting. Worse. they found it too weird (and just what were As a boy. Lynch lived in Montana.
they expecting. exactly?) tlme to thlnk and Washington. Idaho and Virginia as the The suits inveigled Lynch into recutting the pilot. He resisted. to dream, family followed his father Donald. a
qtrickly became sickened by the whole business. even issuing a message to his fans advising them not to watch Mulholland Drive should it ever be shown. ABC dropped the pilot and cancelled the series. Which would have been the end of the story had not l-‘rance‘s Sttrdio Canal bought the pilot and allowed Lynch to reshape it as a feature. ditching half the original footage and shooting enough to bring it up to 146 gloriotrsly bizarre rnintrtes.
‘The TV people hated it with such venom that I gave up on it.’ says Lynch. ‘1 always feel that any project
can have its day eventually. even if it’s in at ‘It’s true
different shape or form. Once it was
resolved that it would become a film then are
I had to write an ending — that was very allens on
scary after all the time that had elapsed.
Then one night the ideas came surging to _- and
the surface. and showed me the way. work In teleVISIon’
‘I liked the idea of .\lulholland Drive as a link. It‘s a very long road which goes right through Los Angeles. It starts in the east. and ends up on the twisty curves of the hills around Santa Monica. and then continues to Malibu.’ Here. it's unclear whether Lynch is speaking literally or metaphorically: 'I don‘t exactly know where it stops. The road is ftrll of mystery. strange stories. crimes and romances. Part of it is quite wild. and the other part is residential. It's the sort of place where you can imagine almost anything happening. especially at night.’
llollywood‘.’ ‘S'imset Boulevard is the film that reveals best a certain aspect of llollywood.’ he says. ‘I wasn‘t even born in Hollywood‘s heyday. btrt I can still feel in the air the echoes of the past. Driving at night. there is this bree/e which seems to come from the past. l love all those stories about the old studio system and the moguls.‘
'l‘hotrgh set in the present. the experiences of Rita and Betty are grounded in Hollywood‘s hidden history of crime circa Lynch‘s favourite decade. the 50s. I suggest that his two heroines hark back to the golden age of Hollywood and provide a reflection on today‘s 'l‘inseltown. ‘All interpretations are possible.‘ says Lynch. his mood darkening. ‘You can think whatever you like. The more abstract ideas there are in a film. the wider the possibilities of interpretation. That‘s the joy of these elements. btrt don't rely on me to give you the key.’
And this is the key to Lynch and his films: best not to look for particular meanings. better to come away with impressions. A scene in Mullml/uml Drive. for example. deals with a meeting between a whim-kid filmmaker and
12 THE LIST -'- "
forestry department scientist in his various
postings. Lynch eased his way into the arts. He began to dabble every evening after school. teaching himself painting techniques. He suggests that the influence remains. ‘in the way I paint my filrns‘. Lynch‘s interest in music was stimulated by his father who listened to classical.
Lynch says his childhood was uneventful. ‘.\'othing rntrch happened. and my parents never argued or. at least. not in front of rnef he says. ‘Maybe I would have preferred to have more things going on. btrt at least the calm helped me to get otrt of myself and take risks. lirom that point of view I was ltrcky.~
Why is he so obsessed with the unknown and the trnanswered'.’ The reply turns otrt typically Lynchian: enigmatic. romantic. ‘Mystery is everywhere. We are like detectives. trying to find answers and conclusions.’
In regulation light chinos. neatly ironed white linen shirt (the collar of which he always buttons. to avoid the drafts) and Indian Spirit cigarette in hand. Lynch looks the epitome of dressed-down boardroom chic. His Blue Velvet star Dennis l-lopper's description of him leaps to mind: ‘He's so straight it‘s hard to realise he has such a sick and twisted mind.‘
Mulholland Drive, selected release from Fri 4 Jan. See review, page 31
‘The road is full of mysteries, Does Lynch feel nostalgia for the days of old 07"“95 and romances’