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Wikimedia Commons

22 Things You Might Not Know About Mulholland Drive

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

1. It started as a TV pilot.

Director David Lynch actually got the name for the film when he was planning to create a different pilot, a Twin Peaks spinoff with Mark Frost. Eventually, Lynch was inspired to create a new Mulholland Drive for ABC. It was very elaborate and many elements were similar to the film; it even had over 50 speaking parts. The show was eventually rejected by ABC, with whom Lynch was already having a rough relationship. Apparently, an executive told Lynch that he almost fell asleep while he was standing up and watching it. Lynch has even claimed that no one even told him that ABC had no interest in airing the pilot. The French company Canal Plus bought the pilot as a film. It was then re-edited with 50 minutes of new footage.

2. Many of the actors were lesser known because it was going to be a TV show.

Had Lynch been planning to make a film for the entire process, Naomi Watts may have not even been considered for the lead role. Because Mulholland Drive was originally going to be a television series, Lynch and his casting directors had to pick actors and actresses who would sign contracts for a long-term television series as opposed to a shorter film job. In Lynch’s words, “You swim in a different pool when you are picking actors or actresses for a TV series that may go on for a long time.” He did go on to emphasize that she was “right for the part.”

3. Most of the ideas for the film came from Lynch’s transcendental meditation.

Lynch practices transcendental meditation, which he describes as a way to “expand consciousness.” When the film version of Mulholland Drive was finally greenlit, he had no ideas and hadn’t even been thinking about it. The day that he needed to put ideas on pages, he meditated and that’s when “all the ideas came, all at once.”

4. Lynch didn’t audition any actors.

Before being cast, Naomi Watts merely had a 30 minute conversation with Lynch, which is similar to how all of the leads were chosen. During a press conference in 2001, Lynch said, “When you meet the person, I don’t know what it is. I never make anyone read a scene because then I want to start rehearsing—no matter who it is. I just get a feeling based on a conversation. It’s something in the eyes. It’s some sort of feeling in the air. And I know that this person can do that role.”

5. Laura Elena Harring got into a car accident on the way to her meeting with Lynch.

Harring was very excited to finally be at a point in her career where someone like Lynch’s casting agent would call her. That excitement distracted her and she rear-ended another car. Luckily for Harring, it was the car of another actor on the way to an audition. So they left the scene of the accident. She learned at the meeting that her character, Rita, gets into a car accident in one of the first scenes.

6. Harring also predicted the Mulholland Drive movie.

Even though Lynch told her that the pilot for ABC was no longer happening, Harring held out hope. She once said, “I kept dreaming about Mulholland Drive becoming a movie. And I kept telling [Lynch] that I was seeing omens: Rita, which is the character name, all over the place, and I just saw ‘Mulholland’ everywhere and I said, ‘You know, I just feel that it’s going to go forward.”

7. Billy Ray Cyrus was cast because of his music.

According to Lynch, “I was listening to Billy Ray Cyrus, even though he wasn’t on the list for this particular role in Mulholland Drive, and I said ‘Hey, that’s Gene the pool man right there.’ So there are beautiful, happy accidents.”

8. The character of the cowboy just appeared to Lynch.

He explained, “Sometimes an idea presents itself to you and you’re just as surprised as anyone else. I remember when I was writing Mulholland Drive, the character of the Cowboy just came walking in one night. I just started talking about this cowboy. That’s what happens—something starts occurring but it wasn’t there a moment ago.”

9. Lafayette Montgomery, the first Cowboy, was the co-producer of Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks.

Strangely, in the other projects, Montgomery is credited as “Monty” whereas he’s “Lafayette Montgomery” in the Mulholland Drive credits. A cowboy shows up again at the later party scene, but it is not Montgomery.

10. The film intentionally draws parallels between acting and amnesia.

David Lynch - On The Way To Mulholland Drive - 1/3 by kary82

The film features Betty, the actress, and Rita, the amnesia victim. Lynch sees a connection between those two. “Amnesia somehow ties into acting,” Lynch once explained. “A great actor or actress, they give up themselves and they become somebody else. And everybody, myself included, sometimes wants to get lost and to find themselves in a new world and film gives you that chance to get lost completely in another world."

11. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Not only that, but the film’s funders from Canal Plus saw it for the first time there.

12. David Lynch is cryptic about its meaning.

Lynch is notorious for his refusal to discuss interpretations of his films. For example, this is how he described Mulholland Drive: “Part one: she found herself inside the perfect mystery. Part two: a sad illusion. Part three: love.”

13. But he calls it a love story.

Lynch said, “It’s strange how films unfold as they go. There may be a noir element in Mulholland Drive, and a couple of genres swimming around in there together. For me, it’s a love story.”

To many, the film is undoubtedly a mystery. But Roger Ebert denied that idea shortly after the film was released. He believed that “Mulholland Drive isn’t like Memento, where if you watch closely enough you can hope to explain the mystery. There is no explanation. There may not even be a mystery.”

14. Promotion for the film involved clues.

Luckily for Lynch fans, he was asked to create a promotional campaign of 10 clues. Clues included “Notice appearances of the red lampshade,” “Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee cup,” and “Where is Aunt Ruth?” The rest can be found at Mulholland-Drive.Net.

15. Naomi Watts has her own interpretation.

In an interview with James Lipton, Watts stated that she saw Diane as real and Betty as a figment of Diane’s imagination. She told Lipton, “I saw Diane as being the truth and she imagined this Betty character because she was the one who was the actress and getting all the attention and all the light and, you know, her friendship with Camilla, it was the other way around.”

16. Watts’s tears in the masturbation scene were genuine.

“David wanted utter despair and I was so humiliated by doing the scene that I did cry a lot and I couldn’t stop crying,” Watts said. “He didn’t want me to cry because that would seem that I’d arrived at a place of emotion. What he wanted was that I was reaching, that I was absolutely, desperately trying to connect with something I’d experienced and I wasn’t reaching it. Because I was so mortified by, you know, sitting in front of a film crew with my hands down my pants, I just kept crying. I would say, ‘David, I can’t do this. I can’t do it.’ Crying, crying, crying. And he was like, ‘That’s okay, Naomi, that’s okay.’ And I was thinking, ‘Okay, so he’s going to call cut.’ But he didn’t. And I would keep going. And I—just breaking down, and it was like, I said, ‘Fuck you, David! Fuck you!’”

17. Lynch lives near the actual Mulholland Drive.

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He called it a “beautiful road.” But he also noted, “It’s a mysterious road with many curves in it. It’s really dark at night and, unlike so many other spots in LA, it has remained pretty much the same over the years.”

18. Rebekah Del Rio sang “Crying” four minutes into her meeting with Lynch.

Del Rio singing “Crying” at Club Silencio is one of the most iconic parts of the film, but it was very spontaneous. She showed up to a 10am meeting with Brian Loucks and John Neff, who were working on the music for the film.

Lynch explained, “Rebekah just wanted to come over for a coffee and sing in front of us. She didn’t want to record anything, but she came in and four minutes later—I think before she’d had her coffee—she’s in the booth. And the one take that she sang, four minutes off the street, is the vocal that’s in the film. THE ACTUAL RECORDING!”

19. There are some subtle references to Sunset Boulevard.

Sunset Boulevard is one of Lynch’s favorite films. In Mulholland Drive, a Sunset Boulevard street sign can be seen in addition to a very similar shot of the Paramount Gates that’s in Sunset Boulevard. Lynch even tracked down the same car from Sunset Boulevard to include in the shot of the Paramount Gates.

Plus, Lynch recognized that Norma Desmond and Betty are “both experiencing some of the negative sides of acting.”

20. Lynch had specific directions for theater projectors.

When the Mulholland Drive film was sent to theaters, Lynch included a personal note for projectors. It read “I understand this is an unusual request yet I do need your help.” Among the requests are for volume to be 3db hotter than usual as well as a smaller amount of headroom (the black strip above the screen) than normal.

21. The nude scene is blurred for the DVD release.

The scene has been digitally altered and blurred from what moviegoers saw in theaters. On his website, Lynch explained, “We did that blurring for the DVD on purpose as we knew that pictures of Laura would be everywhere if we didn’t ... If the shot is timed correctly you should not be able to tell one bit if Laura’s pubic hair has been blurred—this probably means some viewers are experimenting to see Laura’s pubic hair and more ... This is why the picture was blurred—I promised Laura that I would try to protect her as much as possible.”

22. It has inspired a nightclub.

Silencio

In 2011, Club Silencio opened in Paris’ Grands Boulevards District. Lynch himself designed the club, which is obvious when you browse through the pictures on its website. The club contains a 24-seat movie theater, an art library, and a reflective dancefloor. You can become a member at Silencio for €840 a year. It has a 3.5 star Yelp review average.

All images courtesy of Getty Images unless otherwise noted.

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.

2. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.

4. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.

5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.

8. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.

10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.

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Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC
5 Bizarre Comic-Con News Stories from Years Past
Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC
Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC

At its best, San Diego Comic-Con is a friendly place where like-minded people can celebrate their pop culture obsessions, and each other. And no one can make fun of you, no matter how lazy your cosplaying might be. You might think that at its worst, it’s just a series of long lines of costumed fans and small stores crammed into a convention center. But sometimes, throwing together 100,000-plus people from around the world in what feels like a carnival-type atmosphere where anything goes can have less than stellar results. Here are some highlights from past Comic-Con-tastrophes.

1. MAN IN HARRY POTTER T-SHIRT STABS ANOTHER MAN IN THE FACE—WITH A PEN

In 2010, two men waiting for a Comic-Con screening of the Seth Rogen alien comedy Paul got into a very adult argument about whether one of them was sitting too close to the other. Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion with words, one man stabbed the other in the face with a pen. According to CNN, the attacker was led away wearing handcuffs and a Harry Potter T-shirt. In the aftermath, some Comic-Con attendees dealt with the attack in an oddly fitting way: They cosplayed as the victim, with pens protruding from bloody eye sockets.

2. MEMORABILIA THIEVES INVADE NEW YORK

Since its founding in 2006, New York Comic Con has attracted a few sticky-fingered attendees. In 2010, a man stole several rare comics from vendor Matt Nelson, co-founder of Texas’s Worldwide Comics. Just one of those, Whiz Comics No. 1, was worth $11,000, according to the New York Post. A few years later, in 2014, someone stole a $2000 “Dunny” action figure, which artist Jon-Paul Kaiser had painted during the event for Clutter magazine. And those are just the incidents that involved police; lower-scale cases of toys and comics disappearing from booths are an increasingly frustrating epidemic, according to some. “Comic Con theft is an issue we all sort of ignore,” collector Tracy Isenhour wrote on the blog of his company, Needless Essentials, in 2015. “I am here to tell you no more. It’s time for this garbage to stop."

3. CATWOMAN SAVES THE DAY


John Sciulli/Getty Images for Xbox

Adrianne Curry, winner of the first cycle of America’s Next Top Model, has made a career of chasing viral fame. Ironically, it was at Comic-Con in 2014 that Curry did something truly worthy of attention—though there wasn’t a camera in sight. Dressed as Catwoman, she was posing with fans alongside her friend Alicia Marie, who was dressed as Tigra. According to a Facebook post Marie wrote at the time, a fan tried to shove his hands into her bikini bottoms. She screamed, the man ran off, and Curry jumped to action. She “literally took off after dude WITH her Catwoman whip and chased him down, beat his a**,” Marie wrote. “Punched him across the face with the butt of her whip—he had zombie blood on his face—got on her costume.”

4. MAN POSES AS FUGITIVE-SEEKING INVESTIGATOR TO GET INTO VIP ROOM

The lines at Comic-Con are legendary, so one Utah man came up with a novel way to try and skip them altogether. In 2015, Jonathon M. Wall tried to get into Salt Lake Comic Con’s exclusive VIP enclave (normally a $10,000 ticket) by claiming he was an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and needed to get into the VIP room “to catch a fugitive,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune. Not only does that story not even come close to making sense, it also adds up to impersonating a federal agent, a crime to which Wall pleaded guilty in April of 2016 and which carried a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Just a few months later, prosecutors announced that they were planning to reduce his crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

5. MAN WALKS 645 MILES TO COMIC-CON, DRESSED AS A STORMTROOPER, TO HONOR HIS LATE WIFE


Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney

In 2015, Kevin Doyle walked 645 miles along the California coast to honor his late wife, Eileen. Doyle had met Eileen relatively late in life, when he was in his 50s, and they bonded over their shared love of Star Wars (he even proposed to her while dressed as Darth Vader). However, she died of cancer barely a year after they were married. Adrift and lonely, Doyle decided to honor her memory and their love of Star Wars by walking to Comic-Con—from San Francisco. “I feel like I’m so much better in the healing process than if I’d stayed home,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune.

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