Surreal facts about David Lynch

The universe that exists in any David Lynch film or TV series is a weird, scary, bizarre place, where mystical happenings seem mundane, people transform into other people without warning, and cheerful suburban neighborhoods tend to be hiding dark, homicidal secrets. Within these strange realms, a fascinating array of characters, from Henry Spencer to the Log Lady, behave in incredibly peculiar ways. But as quirky as these characters seem, they're all simply a mirror for the man who created them. Really, if there's any human being on the planet who would seem right at home in a David Lynch movie, it's David Lynch himself. 

However, the exact qualities that make David Lynch so uniquely himself are the same ones that make him so likeable. While other artists might try really hard to make wacky, surreal creations, David Lynch seemingly can't help it: Everything he touches, from movies to furniture to Oscar campaigns involving live animals, is completely authentic, genuine, and true to his intentions. 

He chilled with a cow for an Oscar campaign

Back in 2006, David Lynch released Inland Empire. The movie starred Laura Dern, and Lynch thought she did such a good job that she deserved an Academy Award. So, in support of his actress, Lynch did the most Lynchian Oscars campaign ever. He put up a big poster of Dern's face on the corner of Hollywood and La Brea — not so unusual — then plopped down in a chair and hung out with a cow.

Yes, a real, live cow. The kind of cow that chews grass on a farm. According to the Independent, he also put up a poster stating that "Without cheese there wouldn't be an Inland Empire." When asked about this, Lynch pointed out that cheese is made from milk, which comes from cows. Okay, bud!

Most passers-by found the whole thing extremely endearing. As Lynch and his cow sat there on the sidewalk, many people stopped to talk to him, and he explained that getting an actress nominated for an Academy Award usually meant shelling out millions of dollars. He didn't have that kind of money to spend, so he was instead taking a more community-oriented approach. Laura Dern didn't end up getting nominated, unfortunately, but no one can say that her director — and his faithful bovine assistant, for that matter — didn't put in their strongest effort.

He does web cartoons in his spare time

Everyone knows about Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet, but David Lynch does creative projects of all shapes and sizes. Back in the early 2000s, The Guardian pointed out that Lynch decided to try playing around with Macromedia Flash, animating crudely drawn characters, doing the voices himself, and creating his own sound effects. Though some people would've done this for a few hours, Lynch got really into his so-called "Dumbland" cartoons, spending about 10 days on each 3-minute episode he put together.

Then, Lynch bucked all conventions, and released his hobby project online for free. At first, no one knew what to make of it. On the surface, Dumbland seems like a crass, vulgar, cheaply made cartoon featuring lots of farting, profanity, and gore. However, as the episodes go on, it becomes clear that Dumbland is way smarter than its title would imply. It's all about the subtext lingering behind those wavy black lines, as Dumbland examines such Lynchian themes as the hidden consumerist nightmare behind mundane suburbia, the cycle of abuse, and how ennui can lead to violence. It's actually one of Lynch's darkest works to date, with some of his most disturbing themes disguised behind flatulence and cursing.

But yeah, don't forget, the guy just made this thing on his home computer, in his spare time. Lynch is truly one of a kind.

He's really, really into coffee (even more than you know)

You might think that you love coffee. You might drink a cup of coffee every day, or maybe even a few cups. But you probably don't love coffee as much as David Lynch, the dude who casually admitted that he used to drink about 20 cups of the miracle beverage every day, according to Vice. These days, he only drinks a mere 10 cups, but they're now "bigger cups." Lynch loves coffee so much that he actually released his own signature blend of organic coffee beans. And yes, Vice explains, Lynch's beans do indeed result in a "damn fine cup of coffee," to quote Special Agent Dale Cooper.

Lynch's coffee drinking was discussed in another light by Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace, who visited the set of Lost Highway and wrote the essay "David Lynch Keeps His Head." Wallace said the first time he "met" Lynch, the filmmaker was busy urinating on a tree, right on the film's set: Apparently Lynch drank so much coffee that frequent urination was a necessity, and he didn't always have the time between takes to run all the way to the bathrooms. 

As a kid, he was really curious about decomposition

David Lynch is surprisingly grounded and comfortable for a person with such an eccentric style, and his unembarrassed passion for his art probably has a lot to do with the strong support he received from his parents at an early age, according to Vice. They weren't happy about all his experiments, though. At one point when Lynch was a kid, he found various rotting fruits and animal bodies, positioned them on the floor of his basement, and left them there so he could see the new shapes, forms, and textures they took on as they decomposed and molded, as described in the documentary David Lynch: The Art Life. Lynch showed these decaying animals and plants to his father, who was so disturbed by the whole scene that he apparently told his son not to have children. 

Lynch had children anyway. In recent years, his daughter Jennifer Lynch has become an increasingly popular director herself, with credits on The Walking Dead and Jessica Jones.

He used to post regular weather reports online

By now, it's pretty well established that David Lynch just does whatever he feels like doing, and sometimes, what he feels like doing is posting simple, straightforward weather report videos. As Vulture points out, during the 2000s, Lynch used to post regular weather reports to the internet from his home in Los Angeles. No, there were no weird side characters, no subplots, no creepy audio effects, no dark imagery — just the filmmaker sitting at his desk, looking out the window, and telling everyone what was going on in the sky. Given that LA isn't known for diverse meteorological conditions, this meant he was generally just pointing at blue skies with some clouds. Mental Floss points out that Lynch's weather videos did occasionally break from this format, like one "episode" where he just silently read a magazine the whole time, and another time when actress Laura Dern guest starred. For the most part, though, his weather reports were exactly what they purported to be.

He's a proud former Eagle Scout

So, David Lynch was an Eagle Scout when he was a kid. That's not so weird … until you pause to imagine David Lynch in the Boy Scouts. Lynch did an interview about these good old days for Bryan on Scouting, a scouting blog, where he explained that as a youngster, his family always camped out on vacations rather than staying in hotels, so being a scout just felt like an extension of that. Lynch was a member of Order of the Arrow and said he enjoyed racking up those merit badges. One of the more notable moments in Lynch's Scout career was his 15th birthday, the day on which he and his fellow Scouts went to Washington D.C. and attended the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. 

Though Lynch isn't the most conventional Boy Scout alumnus out there, it's something he remains proud of to this day. In his official Twitter bio, which he also uses on other sites and publications, he simply describes himself thus: "Filmmaker. Born Missoula, MT. Eagle Scout." 

He also makes furniture

C'mon, admit it. You already have that Eraserhead poster on your wall and that Twin Peaks coffee mug. You know full well that if you had the opportunity to furnish your entire apartment with tables and couches designed and built by David Lynch, you'd reach for your wallet in a heartbeat. Well, as it happens, David Lynch does enjoy making furniture, though his designs don't evoke the sort of Red Room-style craziness you might expect. 

In 1997, Lynch told the German design magazine Form that making furniture wasn't some new hobby he took up, either. When Lynch was a kid, he enjoyed helping his dad build things in the workshop. And while you probably won't ever see a whole product line of David Lynch Signature Couches, the filmmaker did once present a collection of his handmade furniture at a special exhibition in Milan. His displayed works included a series of extremely small tables, designed to hold only one item at a time. Evidently, Lynch believes regular tables are too big, too high, and take up all the space in a room. 

​Auditions? Who needs 'em?​

True story: David Lynch doesn't bother having his actors do auditions. Lynch's ex-wife, editor, and producer Mary Sweeney told Vanity Fair that when Lynch cast Naomi Watts and Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive, he did it purely off their head shots and a few casual conversations with them. According to Sweeney, Lynch never thinks about actors when he's writing his scripts, focusing only on the characters themselves. After the script is done, he uses his intuition to see which actors and actresses give him the best "feeling." Laura Dern explained in an interview with Backstage that when she first met Lynch for Blue Velvet, they never discussed the movie, and instead talked about more abstract concepts like transcendental meditation. So basically, he just chats his casting choices up, sees if they give off the right vibe, and rolls with it. 

This internal, intuitive process continues once filming starts. Lynch never explains to his actors what the overarching themes are and gives them no advice on their character's internal motives, allowing them to figure it out for themselves. Naomi Watts said she thinks he gets a mischievous sense of enjoyment over having everyone on set trying to guess what's going on.

He meditates every single day

There's definitely a huge spiritual component to Lynch's films, and if you've ever wondered about his views, it seems that most of his spirituality stems from a daily practice of transcendental meditation. According to the Los Angeles Times, he credits this frequent meditation with lowering his stress levels, heightening his creativity, and helping him achieve true happiness. Considering the level of imagination his films display, this lifestyle choice definitely seems to work for him.

Lynch says that he hasn't gone a single day without transcendental meditation in over 40 years. He's even set up the David Lynch Foundation, an organization devoted to making transcendental meditation available for both at-risk youngsters and economically disadvantaged oldsters. Time noted that when Lynch did a commencement speech for Maharishi University graduates in 2016, he spun the whole thing into more of a Q&A event, where students got to ask him questions about meditation. Toward the end, he summarized his belief that "intuition is the number one tool" for artists, businesspeople, and human beings in general.

When he first got to college, he locked himself in his room for two weeks

Though Lynch seems very secure, happy, and comfortable with his life today, it wasn't always that way. Well before he became the meditating, calm, openly quirky filmmaker we know, a far younger David Lynch had to overcome severe social anxieties. 

According to CBC, after finishing high school, Lynch's father drove him to his new school in Boston two weeks before the first classes were scheduled to start. Lynch's father bought him a bunch of groceries and then headed home once Lynch was set up in his new apartment. However, once the door closed, Lynch stayed put. He said he sat down in a chair, listened to the radio, and didn't move from that spot for an entire two weeks, except for bathroom or food breaks. Finally, the radio died right before classes started. Lynch says it took all his strength to overcome his anxiety and go to school that first day, but looking back, he believes it's something he had to go through. Today, he still confesses to some anxiety when he goes out, but nowhere near the level he once experienced.

He has interesting eating habits

David Lynch is quite the perfectionist about when and how he eats. According to a 1990 New York Times piece, he generally prefers to eat the same thing at the same place at the same time every day. For seven years, he went to Bob's Big Boy at 2:30 p.m., got a chocolate milkshake, and brainstormed ideas. Though he once described sugar as "granulated happiness," he explained in an interview with Food & Wine in 2012 that he had slashed sugar out of his diet and replaced those milkshakes with a homemade health drink he calls "Dr. Bieler's broth," followed by eating seven almonds. Yes, exactly seven. Lord knows what he's eating nowadays.

Cooking at home is something the director has always felt weird about, since the idea of greasy smoke coating everything in the house disturbs him. He used to forbid any and all cooking within his house. Though he still believes that a kitchen should be totally separate from the rest of the house — ideally, made of cement and stainless steel, with giant exhaust fans and drains in the floor — he admitted to Food & Wine that he now accepts in-home cooking far more than he used to. In recent years, he even posted a video guide to making quinoa. The guide is extremely Lynchian, runs about 20 minutes, and even shows him doing the dishes.

The super bizarre true inspiration behind Lost Highway

Lost Highway is definitely one crazy film, with scenes that will haunt your nightmares for years. One of the most uncomfortable scenes in the film occurs when the main character, Fred Madison, receives a cryptic message on his intercom: "Dick Laurent is dead." Understandably perturbed by this, Madison looks outside the window and sees no one at his front door. The whole thing feels creepily realistic, just off-kilter enough to make the viewer uneasy anytime their doorbell rings.

When asked about the genesis of Lost Highway by the French magazine Postif, Lynch revealed that this disquieting little incident did stem from his real life. Apparently a stranger once did ring his doorbell, and told him that same message through the intercom, that "Dick Laurent is dead." Who is Dick Laurent? No one knows, including David Lynch, who (like his character) looked out the window and didn't see anyone there. 

Return of the Jedi: A David Lynch film

David Lynch is the polar opposite of a major studio director. His one big-budget foray, Dune, didn't go so well, and Lynch has always maintained strict creative control over every subsequent project he's undertaken. But as MovieWeb reminds us, back in the early 1980s, George Lucas made a strong push to convince Lynch to direct Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, going so far as to buy the Eraserhead director lunch, give him a ride in his Ferrari, and show him exclusive concept art of the Wookies that were originally going to feature in the film. (They were later replaced by Ewoks.) Even though Lynch has admitted to admiring Lucas quite a bit, the offer didn't sit well with him: He saw Star Wars as being Lucas' baby and didn't want to intrude on that. 

So, Lynch turned down millions of dollars, much to his agent's chagrin. What would a David Lynch Star Wars movie have looked like? Probably very similar to the creepy, Lynchian trailer above, which wouldn't have made the studio happy. Meanwhile, as if Lynch almost doing Star Wars isn't weird enough, it's worth noting that he was also approached to direct the teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High, according to IndieWire.