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List of frequent David Lynch collaborators

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Title: List of frequent David Lynch collaborators  
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Subject: David Lynch, Absurda, Bug Crawls, BlueBob, The Angriest Dog in the World
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List of frequent David Lynch collaborators

David Lynch plucked me from obscurity. He cast me as the lead in Dune and Blue Velvet, and people have seen me as this boy-next-door-cooking-up-something-weird-in-the-basement ever since.

—Kyle MacLachlan on working with Lynch[1]

David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, television director, visual artist, musician, and occasional actor. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed his own unique cinematic style, known as "Lynchian";[2] this style is characterized by its dream imagery and meticulous sound design. The surreal and, in many cases, violent elements to his films have been said to "disturb, offend or mystify" their audiences.[3]

Over the course of Lynch's career, he has collaborated with several individuals on multiple occasions; his films frequently feature recurring cast members and principal production roles are often filled by a small pool of collaborators. The most prolific of Lynch's frequently used actors was Jack Nance, who first worked with Lynch on 1977's Eraserhead, and would appear in many more of Lynch's productions until Nance's death in 1996.[4] Several individuals with whom Lynch would work on multiple occasions are fellow alumni of the AFI Conservatory, including sound designer Alan Splet, cinematographer Frederick Elmes and actor Catherine E. Coulson.[5]

Lynch has been known to allow his collaborative partners a large degree of control over their roles when working with him; Kyle MacLachlan has several times persuaded Lynch to rewrite scenes, including in 1986's Blue Velvet and the television series Twin Peaks, as he felt they were not right for his characters.[6] The following lists include all of the cast and crew members with whom Lynch has worked on three or more separate projects.


A blonde woman in a black dress looking at the camera
A headshot of a blonde woman looking off to the left
A blonde woman in a black dress, looking slightly towards the right
Lynch has cast Sheryl Lee (left), Naomi Watts (center) and Laura Dern (right) in several projects each. Lee first worked with Lynch in Twin Peaks before appearing in two feature films, while Lynch personally lobbied for Dern to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for their third collaboration, Inland Empire.
Key Title Year
AM The Amputee 1973
EH Eraserhead 1977
EM The Elephant Man 1980
DU Dune 1984
BV Blue Velvet 1986
CF The Cowboy and the Frenchman 1987
TP Twin Peaks 1990
WH Wild at Heart 1990
IS Industrial Symphony No. 1 1990
OA On the Air 1991
FW Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me 1992
HR Hotel Room 1993
LH Lost Highway 1997
SS The Straight Story 1999
MD Mulholland Drive 2001
DR Darkened Room 2002
RB Rabbits 2002
IE Inland Empire 2006


Lynch's partnership with actress Laura Dern spans three feature films, and was later included on a list of "40 Great Actor & Director Partnerships" by the film magazine Empire.[7] Lynch personally lobbied for Dern to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Inland Empire, sitting by a corner of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, with a cow to raise awareness of her performance.[8] However, the campaign was unsuccessful, with Dern not receiving a nomination for the award.[9]

Lynch has also worked with actor Kyle MacLachlan on several projects; MacLachlan has been described as an on-screen incarnation of Lynch's own persona. The pair's working relationship has also been compared to that between director François Truffaut and actor Jean-Pierre Léaud.[10] MacLachlan has commented that he felt "unstoppable" working with Lynch on Twin Peaks due to the strength of their prior collaborations, and considers the director a personal friend.[11] MacLachlan earned several award nominations through these collaborative efforts, including two Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series nominations,[12] and a successful Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama.[13]

Actress Sheryl Lee was first cast as the deceased character Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks. However, Lynch soon asked her to play the second role of Madeline Ferguson throughout the series;[14] Lee would reprise her role as Palmer in the series' feature-film sequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me,[15] and made a brief appearance in Wild at Heart, which was filmed concurrently with Twin Peaks.[16] Wild at Heart featured several other Twin Peaks alumni, including Grace Zabriskie and Jack Nance.[16]

Michael J. Anderson Yes Yes Yes Yes [17]
Frances Bay Yes Yes Yes Yes [18]
Scott Coffey Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [19]
Catherine E. Coulson Yes Yes Yes [20]
Laura Dern Yes Yes Yes Yes [21]
Miguel Ferrer Yes Yes Yes [22]
Laura Harring Yes Yes Yes [23]
Freddie Jones Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [24]
Sheryl Lee Yes Yes Yes [15]
Kyle MacLachlan Yes Yes Yes Yes [25]
Everett McGill Yes Yes Yes [26]
Jack Nance Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [27]
Harry Dean Stanton Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [28]
Naomi Watts Yes Yes Yes [29]
Alicia Witt Yes Yes Yes [30]
Grace Zabriskie Yes Yes Yes Yes [31]


A dark photograph of a woman singing into a microphone
As well as providing music for several of Lynch's projects, Julee Cruise worked with him on two studio albums.

Lynch has worked with Angelo Badalamenti on a large number of projects, having first collaborated with the composer on Blue Velvet in 1986. Lynch and Badalamenti also worked to write and produce two albums for singer Julee Cruise,[32] penning music for 1989's Floating into the Night.[33] and 1993's The Voice of Love.[34] Cruise also joined the pair in crafting the music for Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and Industrial Symphony No. 1.[35]

Casting director Johanna Ray has worked with Lynch on multiple projects, beginning with Blue Velvet and continuing through the majority of Lynch's feature films, missing only The Straight Story.[36] Ray's son Eric Da Re was also involved in Twin Peaks, as an actor.[37] Lynch also worked with sound designer Alan Splet several times until the latter's death in 1994.[38][39]

Lynch has worked with cinematographers Frederick Elmes and Freddie Francis on several occasions, employing both at once on Dune.[40][41] Lynch and Elmes began collaborating while attending the AFI Conservatory, producing The Amputee and Eraserhead together while studying there.[5] Fancis first worked with the director on The Elephant Man, later acting as cinematographer for Dune and The Straight Story.[41] Peter Deming has also become director of photography in several of Lynch's productions, first on the television series On the Air, before making his first feature film work with Lynch on Lost Highway.[42]

Angelo Badalamenti Composer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [32]
Julee Cruise Musician Yes Yes Yes Yes [35]
Peter Deming Cinematographer Yes Yes Yes Yes [42]
Frederick Elmes Cinematographer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [40]
Freddie Francis Cinematographer Yes Yes Yes [41]
Deepak Nayar Producer; assistant director Yes Yes Yes Yes [43]
Patricia Norris Costume designer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [44]
Johanna Ray Casting director Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [36]
Alan Splet Sound designer Yes Yes Yes Yes [38]
Mary Sweeney Editor, producer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [45]


  1. ^ Mulkerrins, Jane (June 24, 2012). "This much I know: Kyle MacLachlan".  
  2. ^ Rodley & Lynch 2005, pp. 109 & 192.
  3. ^ Rodley & Lynch 2005, p. 245.
  4. ^ Odell & Le Blanc 2007, p. 129.
  5. ^ a b Rodley & Lynch 2005, p. 55.
  6. ^ Olson 2008, p. 243.
  7. ^ "40 Great Actor & Director Partnerships | Laura Dern & David Lynch".  
  8. ^ "Lynch, cow campaign for Oscar".  
  9. ^ "79th Academy Awards Winners | Oscar Legacy".  
  10. ^ Rodley & Lynch 2005, pp. 140–141.
  11. ^ Harris, Will (September 28, 2012). "Kyle MacLachlan on David Lynch, Showgirls, and Billy Idol-isms".  
  12. ^ "Kyle MacLachlan |".  
  13. ^ "HFPA – Awards Search".  
  14. ^ Anthony, Andrew (March 21, 2010). "Twin Peaks: How Laura Palmer's death marked the rebirth of TV drama | Feature | Television & radio".  
  15. ^ a b Brennan, Sandra. "Sheryl Lee filmography".  
  16. ^ a b Phipps, Keith (January 23, 2008). "Side trip: Wild at Heart (1990) | Twin Peaks | TV Club".  
  17. ^ LeVasseur, Andrea. "Michael J. Anderson filmography".  
  18. ^ "Frances Bay filmography".  
  19. ^ "Scott Coffey filmography".  
  20. ^ "Catherine Coulson filmography".  
  21. ^ Brennan, Sandra. "Laura Dern filmography".  
  22. ^ Brennan, Sandra. "Miguel Ferrer filmography".  
  23. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Laura Harring filmography".  
  24. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Freddie Jones filmography".  
  25. ^ Cooper, Tracie. "Kyle MacLachlan filmography".  
  26. ^ "Everett McGill filmography".  
  27. ^ Brennan, Sandra. "Jack Nance filmography".  
  28. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Harry Dean Stanton filmography".  
  29. ^ Bozzola, Lucia. "Naomi Watts filmography".  
  30. ^ Marx, Rebecca Flint. "Alicia Witt filmography".  
  31. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Grace Zabriskie filmography".  
  32. ^ a b Buchanan, Jason. "Angelo Badalamenti filmography".  
  33. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Floating into the Night – Julee Cruise".  
  34. ^ Raggett, Ned. "The Voice of Love – Julee Cruise".  
  35. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Julee Cruise filmography".  
  36. ^ a b "Johanna Ray filmography".  
  37. ^ "Eric Da Re filmography".  
  38. ^ a b "Alan Splet filmography".  
  39. ^ Guthmann, Edward (February 28, 1997). Highway' Travels A Weird Route: David Lynch film is captivatingly bizarre"'".  
  40. ^ a b Brenan, Sandra. "Frederick Elmes filmography".  
  41. ^ a b c Brenan, Sandra. "Freddie Francis filmography".  
  42. ^ a b "Peter Deming filmography".  
  43. ^ Hughes 2001, pp. 209–210.
  44. ^ "Pat Norris filmography".  
  45. ^ "Mary Sweeney filmography".  


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