David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, painter, guitarist, writer and actor.
Lynch has spoken about his ways as an artistic creature of habit many times over the years, as demonstrated by this interview clip compilation. “Some people have heard the story that I went to Bob’s Big Boy for seven years every day at 2:30 and had the same thing,” he told Jay Leno in 1992. “That was my longest habit pattern, I think.”
Lynch’s regularity at that Los Angeles burger joint is just one of the routines that has structured his existence. “I like habitual behavior because it’s a known factor,” he says, “and then your mind is free to think about other things.” When life has an order, he later told Charlie Rose, “then you’re free to mentally go off any place. You’ve got a safe sort of foundation, and a place to spring off from.”
More recently, on a phone Q&A for the David Lynch Foundation, the auteur described his routine thus: “I wake up and I brush my teeth and I use the bathroom. Then I have a cappuccino and some cigarettes. Then I mediate, and then I have either some amrit nectar or a small smoothie with protein powder and blueberries and peaches. And then I go to work.”
However contradictory they may seem, Lynch’s long-standing twin loves of smoking and meditation both express themselves as routine actions.
“You Gotta Have a Set-up”
This is a phrase that Lynch is fond of. “For him, a set-up means a multifaceted one,” says Hurley. “The recording studio is the same as his wood shop: somewhere that he can walk into, turn on the saw and get to work.” The dynamic extends to people, too, so tasks that interfere with creativity can be taken care of by someone else. PAs deal with emails and schedules; the runner gets groceries; Alfredo will take Lynch’s hand-drawn napkin designs of furniture to secure materials.
“It’s like an organised tornado,” says Hurley. “Some days he may just come into the studio and be like, ‘I had this idea last night: I was thinking about Van Morrison and the horns from ‘Into the Mystic’. I love those horns; we need to do something that has that feeling.’ Then he goes off to do something else and returns a couple of hours later.” Sometimes, though, these visions can feel a little too big to pull off. “He sends runners on wild-goose chases,” Hurley adds with a chuckle. “He gets these real pie-in-the-sky ideas like, ‘What would it take for me to drill for oil in my backyard?’ Then somebody has to look all that up and make a report.”
Lynch doesn’t like to leave his complex unless it’s work-related, in which case he’s simply substituting one work environment for another. He doesn’t take vacations and weekends are an obstacle because it means his routine is on pause. “He gets super pained when nobody is in the office,” says Hurley. Lynch’s set-up is all about self-sufficiency – an insular world he never has to leave unless necessary; a place where he can indulge any creative whim: be it painting, building furniture, editing a film, making a record, taking meetings or drinking coffee.
“The goal was to create a home where he could do anything,” Hurley says. “Film is a really cumbersome beast that involves doing your work at a variety of multi-million dollar facilities and David has managed to build this for himself. It’s all about creating and maintaining his freedom.”