Mulholland Drive's Justin Theroux says David Lynch also doesn't know what his movies are about

·2 min read
Justin Theroux
Justin Theroux

David Lynch famously refuses to explain what any of his projects are about, lending them all a nice air of mystery and surprise that allows the viewer to come up with their own interpretations about Twin Peaks or Eraserhead or Blue Velvet without necessarily feeling like they’re wrong. That’s one of the reasons why the strange tease in one of his YouTube weather reports earlier this year was so tantalizing, since it could’ve been about literally anything (and it ended up just being an announcement about doing more YouTube weather reports, which was simultaneously the most and least predictable thing he could’ve said). However, Justin Theroux—who appeared in Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Drive, among other things—has his own explanation for why David Lynch won’t explain his movies: He truly doesn’t know what they’re about.

Theroux’s justification for this comes from his time working on Mulholland Drive, with him telling IndieWire that he immediately started asking Lynch questions about the movie when filming started (“Why am I there? Who’s the cowboy? What’s going on? What reality are we in?”). He says Lynch eventually cleared the set so it was just the two of them, but rather than actually answering any of Theroux’s questions about what’s going on in the movie, Lynch simply responded with, “I don’t know, buddy. But let’s find out.” Theroux says he “wasn’t being cute or cheeky or evasive” about it, he just “genuinely didn’t know” what was going on in the film. He says working with Lynch is like riding “an escalator into a cloud” because “you never know where the escalator lets off.”

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One cynical interpretation of that Theroux quote could be that Lynch is just kind of making it up as he goes along, like he’s just being weird for the sake of weird and there’s no deeper meaning to anything he does, but that’s no fun (and Lynch seems too smart and introspective for that to be true). If anything, he could’ve just been bullshitting Justin Theroux, because why would the guy who famously doesn’t explain anything suddenly decide to explain everything to someone who isn’t even Laura Dern or Kyle MacLachlan? The more likely scenario, though, is that Lynch doesn’t really go in with a specific “about” in mind, choosing instead to—as he apparently told Justin Theroux—find it as he goes. Really, the whole thing is just up to your interpretation.

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