As the cinematic master of the bizarre, David Lynch, turns 69 today, Billie Blue Williams illustrates some of his best cameo characters.
Weird but always wonderful, David Lynch’s creations always tap into an often unturned part of the human psyche. With twists in plots and carefully considered symbols and motifs at every turn, a Lynch session can you leave you feeling muddled and it’s understandable if you miss some of the finer points while your minds still boggling at what you’ve just seen. In celebration of the surrealist’s birthday, we chart seven of his strangest cameo stars.
Marilyn Manson and Twiggy Ramirez as Porn Stars in ‘Lost Highway’
Marilyn Manson and David Lynch are both odd enough alone. Together they’re terrifying. Playing a pale blue porn star, Manson writhes around in a way that resembles nothing arousing. Reportedly receiving a part because he’s a pal of Lynch’s, of course, Manson considered the film one of Lynch’s best, but having made a cameo you would, wouldn’t you too?
The Midget in Mulholland Drive
Reappearing in Mulholland Drive following his role as the musical midget in Twin Peaks, this time as a crazy doctor type character in a wheelchair, this character is testament to Lynch’s obsession with the past. Re-occuring characters with twisted roles. With dwarfs and midgets commonly associated with creative childlike dreams, he’s another figment of Lynch’s imagination playing out for all to see.
‘Crazy Old Lady’ in Inland Empire
Playing the leading lady’s creepy Polish neighbour, Grace Zabriskie plays the crazy old lady who predicts what the future has in store for a younger actress, not in a kind old fortune-teller kind of way, more of a calculated and intimidating crazy kind of way. This is only emphasised by the slightly out of focus close up shots of her bulging eyes and stern expression. She spouts some folk tales which always makes for an uncomfortable situation, why is it that nursery rhymes and the like can be turned so sinister so easily?
‘Spool’ in Wild at Heart
“My dog barks, some. Mentally you picture my dog, but I have not told you the type o’ dog which I have. Perhaps you might even picture Toto… from “The Wizard of Oz.” But I can tell you, my dog is all ways with me. ARF!” It kind of makes sense, but you know when a man barks at the end of his sentence, he’s virtually insane. Supposedly a rocket scientist that main characters and lovers Lula and Sailor meet a motel, that one line will have your brain ticking over for days.
‘Man behind the bin’ in Mulholland Drive
You’d think being cast as ‘man behind bin’ is a bit like being asked to play a tree in a primary school play, a disappointing minor role. Not for Lynch, who famously refused to explain the film. Take from it what you will but the ‘Man’, played by a woman, is a signal for most. A sign that you really should have predicted things were only going to get weirder and that this gremlin-like creature is just the beginning. An unrelated quote from Hunter S Thompson describes this perfectly, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” C’mon people, this is David Lynch, what were you expecting?
‘The Log Lady’ in Twin Peaks
“I carry a log. Is it funny to you?” Well yep, kind of. Everyone who has seen Twin Peaks has a special place in their heart for the Log Lady though. Having a psychic connection with a log is unconventional, sure, but the Log Lady is just a sweet woman who lost her lumberjack husband died in a fire on their wedding night. Leave the Log Lady alone.
‘Lil the Dancer’ in Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me
“Remember Lil’s wearing a sour face.” Lil is essentially a language. Acting as a method of covert communication for the FBI, variations in her appearance mean different things. Her dress is a code for drugs and the placement of her hands means the local authorities are hiding something, there’s six other indicators and not only that, also the presence of the ominous blue rose pinned to her dress that’s never explained, did you get all that?
Words: Lily Walker
Illustration: Billie Blue Williams