CLOSE
Original image
YouTube

16 Wild Facts About Wild at Heart

Original image
YouTube

Like a campy version of Romeo and Juliet, David Lynch’s Wild at Heart came roaring into theaters 25 years ago. Starring Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern as star-crossed lovers Sailor and Lula, the film—based on Barry Gifford’s novel—was yet another high point for Lynch in what turned out to be a very good year for the cult director.

Just one month after Twin Peaks premiered on ABC, Wild at Heart made its debut at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d’Or. But the film was hardly met with unanimous acclaim; when the film claimed Cannes’ top prize, it was met with “great cheers and many boos, some of the latter from me,” Roger Ebert recalled. Yet a quarter-century later, we’re still talking about it. Here are 16 things you might not have known about Lynch’s divisive neo-noir.

1. DAVID LYNCH WASN’T SUPPOSED TO DIRECT IT.

Lynch read Barry Gifford’s novel, Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula, at the behest of his friend, Monty Montgomery. “Monty wanted me to help him write the script so he could direct it himself,” Lynch shared in a 1990 interview. “I asked him jokingly: ‘OK, but what happens if I like it so much that I want to direct it myself?’ He said that in that case, I could direct it. So what started as a joke was exactly what happened.” Montgomery served as one of the film’s producers.

2. LYNCH WROTE THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE SCRIPT IN LESS THAN A WEEK.

It was six days, to be exact. “I didn't mean to,” he admitted in an interview with CBC. “But I [had] an assistant named Debby Trutnik to whom I was dictating the script, and she just wouldn't go home. It flowed out. But … that script didn't exactly set the world on fire.”

3. LYNCH WROTE TWO SCRIPTS FOR THE FILM.

The first version of the script may have flowed, but even Lynch wasn’t happy with the final result. “The first [script] was pretty much devoid of any happiness,” according to Lynch. “And many of the people who read it were in a position to make it said they wouldn't. They really wanted to work with me, but they rejected that particular script.”

4. THE ORIGINAL ENDING WAS THE MAIN PROBLEM.

YouTube

In Gifford’s book, there is no happily ever after for Sailor and Lula. Which wasn’t the way that Lynch would have written it, but he wanted to respect his source material. Eventually, Lynch “ended up in Samuel Goldwyn Jr.'s office, and he said, ‘David, I hate this ending. Why do you want to do this?’ and my only answer was that it was true to the book,” recalled Lynch. “I told him I also hated the ending because, as well as being so depressing, it didn't ring true to the characters. I found myself in the position where if I gave it a happy ending, it would look like I had completely sold out and taken the commercial route. And I hope that I did it because honestly and truly the material was screaming to be that way.”

5. NICOLAS CAGE AND LAURA DERN WERE LYNCH’S FIRST CHOICES FOR THE LEADS.

“When we read a book, we all attach a face to a character,” explained Lynch, “and honestly and truly, the faces that attached themselves for me were Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern … Since Blue Velvet [Laura and I have] become friends, and I've learned, quite pleasantly, that she is Lula. She's a hepcat.”

6. LAURA DERN BROKE HER “NO NUDITY” RULE FOR THE FILM.

YouTube

Dern had fun exploring the hyper-sexualized world in which Wild at Heart exists, and was surprised by the shocked reactions of some critics. “I'd never done nudity in a movie,” Dern recalled to Interview Magazine. “I've never sort of condoned it for myself, but David wanted it, and I was completely comfortable with it because that love story was so protected. There's never a moment where you feel anything is exploited. I'm interested to see what the American reviewers talk about comparing to the Europeans, who really didn't question it that much.”

7. SAILOR’S SNAKESKIN JACKET WAS CAGE'S SNAKESKIN JACKET.

Throughout the film, Sailor tells anyone who will listen (willingly or otherwise) that his beloved snakeskin jacket is a symbol of his “individuality” and “belief in personal freedom.” Which was at least half true, as the jacket did indeed belong to Cage. The actor called Lynch “one day and asked me if he could wear a snakeskin jacket. I thought it was perfect, so I wrote that into the script.” That songbird of a voice you hear also belongs to Cage; he did his own singing for the film.

8. PLAYING SAILOR HELPED CAGE MOVE AWAY FROM METHOD ACTING.

In a 2005 interview with Total Film, Cage explained that Wild at Heart came along at a time when “I was starting to come out of that whole style of Method acting … By then, I was learning to have a sort of mischievous sense of fun while playing parts. It was David Lynch who made it clear to me that if you’re not having fun then the audience isn’t going to either. That movie was very playful and there wasn’t a whole lot of time to think about things on the set because David would come in with new monologues on the day and actually trying to memorize any of it was just absurd. You couldn’t over-analyze, you just jumped in and did it.”

9. CAGE’S MOM LIKENS THE FILM TO A MODERN DANCE PERFORMANCE.

In 2013, Cage told The Guardian about how excited his mom (a dancer and choreographer) gets when one of his movies comes on television. And she was a fan of Wild at Heart. “I never studied dance, but if you look at Wild at Heart, my mother saw that movie and said, ‘You are a dancer. Look at how you're moving: all that strange energy is like modern dance.’”

10. DIANE LADD HAD A TENDENCY TO IMPROVISE.

YouTube

Lynch remembered that, in her first scene, Diane Ladd (Dern's mom in the film and in real life, too) “was miles away from the text that I’d written. She got the spirit of the scene perfectly, but she didn’t recreate a single word. So I took her aside and after that we worked very well together. She was bad at sticking to the dialogue, but she really loved to be seized by an emotion and to be carried away by it. It was quite something to contain all that energy.”

11. WILLEM DAFOE FOUND HIS CHARACTER THROUGH HIS TEETH.

YouTube

Watching Willem Dafoe come to life as the sinister Bobby Peru was “a terrific experience,” according to Lynch. “He is so controlled, so precise, there’s not a single wasted emotion … I think that the false teeth helped him with his conception of the character. From the moment he puts those teeth in, he talks a little differently, he discovers a certain kind of smile.”

12. SANTOS WAS CAST THE DAY BEFORE SHOOTING HIS FIRST SCENE.

Lynch shared that J.E. Freeman, who plays mobster Marcellus Santos, “was chosen for the role … the day before shooting his first scene, and he fits perfectly into the world of the film.”

13. BASED ON TEST SCREENINGS, THE MOVIE SEEMED DOOMED TO FAIL.

The audience response to Wild at Heart was mixed, to be sure. Lynch recalled that, “In the first test screening, 80 people walked out at one point. But I didn't want to change the film. I thought that maybe that group was too weak. So I tried it again on a second test screening, and 100 people got up and left during the same scene. It involved the torture of Johnnie Farragut (Harry Dean Stanton). We all finally agreed that the scene was really killing the film, so we spent a long time working on it.”

14. THE FILM MARKED LYNCH’S FIRST COLLABORATION WITH HARRY DEAN STANTON.

YouTube

Lynch has been vocal in his admiration of Stanton’s work and talents, remarking that “he has no pretenses” and “is so natural, it’s unbelievable.” Though Wild at Heart was their first collaboration, in the years since Wild at Heart, Lynch and Stanton have re-teamed on a number of projects, including Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, The Straight Story, and Inland Empire.

15. THE FILM WAS COMPLETED ONE DAY BEFORE ITS CANNES PREMIERE.

Lynch continued tinkering with the film up until the very last minute possible, at which point the director packed it up as a piece of carry-on luggage and set off for the French Riviera. “We were right up [to] the wire,” Lynch told Empire Magazine. But even then, it almost didn’t make it: “The gentleman at Swiss Air was very upset but finally he let it happen because it did fit under the seats.”

16. LYNCH WAS THREATENED WITH AN X RATING.

“Amazingly, they were offended more by the violence than by the sex scenes,” Lynch told Cinema 9 of the MPAA’s reasons for wanting to slap the dreaded rating on Wild at Heart. (NC-17 didn't come into play until October of that year, with Philip Kaufman's Henry & June.) “Usually, it’s the other way around. They complained about the brutal murder immediately at the beginning and the bloodbath at the end. They didn't like a particular sex scene with Lula and Sailor either, which they called ‘penetration from behind.’”

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
8 Tricks to Help Your Cat and Dog to Get Along
Original image
iStock

When people aren’t debating whether cats or dogs are more intelligent, they’re equating them as mortal foes. That’s a stereotype that both cat expert Jackson Galaxy, host of the Animal Planet show My Cat From Hell, and certified dog trainer Zoe Sandor want to break.

Typically, cats are aloof and easily startled, while dogs are gregarious and territorial. This doesn't mean, however, that they can't share the same space—they're just going to need your help. “If cats and dogs are brought up together in a positive, loving, encouraging environment, they’re going to be friends,” Galaxy tells Mental Floss. “Or at the very least, they’ll tolerate each other.”

The duo has teamed up in a new Animal Planet series, Cat Vs. Dog, which airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. The show chronicles their efforts to help pet owners establish long-lasting peace—if not perfect harmony—among cats and dogs. (Yes, it’s possible.) Gleaned from both TV and off-camera experiences, here are eight tips Galaxy and Sandor say will help improve household relations between Fido and Fluffy.

1. TAKE PERSONALITY—NOT BREED—INTO ACCOUNT.

Contrary to popular belief, certain breeds of cats and dogs don't typically get along better than others. According to Galaxy and Sandor, it’s more important to take their personalities and energy levels into account. If a dog is aggressive and territorial, it won’t be a good fit in a household with a skittish cat. In contrast, an aging dog would hate sharing his space with a rambunctious kitten.

If two animals don’t end up being a personality match, have a backup plan, or consider setting up a household arrangement that keeps them separated for the long term. And if you’re adopting a pet, do your homework and ask its previous owners or shelter if it’s lived with other animals before, or gets along with them.

2. TRAIN YOUR DOG.

To set your dog up for success with cats, teach it to control its impulses, Sandor says. Does it leap across the kitchen when someone drops a cookie, or go on high alert when it sees a squeaky toy? If so, it probably won’t be great with cats right off the bat, since it will likely jump up whenever it spots a feline.

Hold off Fido's face time with Fluffy until the former is trained to stay put. And even then, keep a leash handy during the first several cat-dog meetings.

3. GIVE A CAT ITS OWN TERRITORY BEFORE IT MEETS A DOG.

Cats need a protected space—a “base camp” of sorts—that’s just theirs, Galaxy says. Make this refuge off-limits to the dog, but create safe spaces around the house, too. This way, the cat can confidently navigate shared territory without trouble from its canine sibling.

Since cats are natural climbers, Galaxy recommends taking advantage of your home’s vertical space. Buy tall cat trees, install shelves, or place a cat bed atop a bookcase. This allows your cat to observe the dog from a safe distance, or cross a room without touching the floor.

And while you’re at it, keep dogs away from the litter box. Cats should feel safe while doing their business, plus dogs sometimes (ew) like to snack on cat feces, a bad habit that can cause your pooch to contract intestinal parasites. These worms can cause a slew of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.

Baby gates work in a pinch, but since some dogs are escape artists, prepare for worst-case scenarios by keeping the litter box uncovered and in an open space. That way, the cat won’t be cornered and trapped mid-squat.

4. EXERCISE YOUR DOG'S BODY AND MIND.

“People exercise their dogs probably 20 percent of what they should really be doing,” Sandor says. “It’s really important that their energy is released somewhere else so that they have the ability to slow down their brains and really control themselves when they’re around kitties.”

Dogs also need lots of stimulation. Receiving it in a controlled manner makes them less likely to satisfy it by, say, chasing a cat. For this, Sandor recommends toys, herding-type activities, lure coursing, and high-intensity trick training.

“Instead of just taking a walk, stop and do a sit five times on every block,” she says. “And do direction changes three times on every block, or speed changes two times. It’s about unleashing their herding instincts and prey drive in an appropriate way.”

If you don’t have time for any of these activities, Zoe recommends hiring a dog walker, or enrolling in doggy daycare.

5. LET CATS AND DOGS FOLLOW THEIR NOSES.

In Galaxy's new book, Total Cat Mojo, he says it’s a smart idea to let cats and dogs sniff each other’s bedding and toys before a face-to-face introduction. This way, they can satisfy their curiosity and avoid potential turf battles.

6. PLAN THE FIRST CAT/DOG MEETING CAREFULLY.

Just like humans, cats and dogs have just one good chance to make a great first impression. Luckily, they both love food, which might ultimately help them love each other.

Schedule the first cat-dog meeting during mealtime, but keep the dog on a leash and both animals on opposite sides of a closed door. They won’t see each other, but they will smell each other while chowing down on their respective foods. They’ll begin to associate this smell with food, thus “making it a good thing,” Galaxy says.

Do this every mealtime for several weeks, before slowly introducing visual simulation. Continue feeding the cat and dog separately, but on either side of a dog gate or screen, before finally removing it all together. By this point, “they’re eating side-by-side, pretty much ignoring each other,” Galaxy says. For safety’s sake, continue keeping the dog on a leash until you’re confident it’s safe to take it off (and even then, exercise caution).

7. KEEP THEIR FOOD AND TOYS SEPARATE.

After you've successfully ingratiated the cat and dog using feeding exercises, keep their food bowls separate. “A cat will walk up to the dog bowl—either while the dog’s eating, or in the vicinity—and try to eat out of it,” Galaxy says. “The dog just goes to town on them. You can’t assume that your dog isn’t food-protective or resource-protective.”

To prevent these disastrous mealtime encounters, schedule regular mealtimes for your pets (no free feeding!) and place the bowls in separate areas of the house, or the cat’s dish up on a table or another high spot.

Also, keep a close eye on the cat’s toys—competition over toys can also prompt fighting. “Dogs tend to get really into catnip,” Galaxy says. “My dog loves catnip a whole lot more than my cats do.”

8. CONSIDER RAISING A DOG AND CAT TOGETHER (IF YOU CAN).

Socializing these animals at a young age can be easier than introducing them as adults—pups are easily trainable “sponges” that soak up new information and situations, Sandor says. Plus, dogs are less confident and smaller at this stage in life, allowing the cat to “assume its rightful position at the top of the hierarchy,” she adds.

Remain watchful, though, to ensure everything goes smoothly—especially when the dog hits its rambunctious “teenage” stage before becoming a full-grown dog.

arrow
Animals
10 Juicy Facts About Sea Apples

They're both gorgeous and grotesque. Sea apples, a type of marine invertebrate, have dazzling purple, yellow, and blue color schemes streaking across their bodies. But some of their habits are rather R-rated. Here’s what you should know about these weird little creatures.

1. THEY’RE SEA CUCUMBERS.

The world’s oceans are home to more than 1200 species of sea cucumber. Like sand dollars and starfish, sea cucumbers are echinoderms: brainless, spineless marine animals with skin-covered shells and a complex network of internal hydraulics that enables them to get around. Sea cucumbers can thrive in a range of oceanic habitats, from Arctic depths to tropical reefs. They're a fascinating group with colorful popular names, like the “burnt hot dog sea cucumber” (Holothuria edulis) and the sea pig (Scotoplanes globosa), a scavenger that’s been described as a “living vacuum cleaner.”

2. THEY'RE NATIVE TO THE WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN.

Sea apples have oval-shaped bodies and belong to the genus Pseudocolochirus and genus Paracacumaria. The animals are indigenous to the western Pacific, where they can be found shuffling across the ocean floor in shallow, coastal waters. Many different types are kept in captivity, but two species, Pseudocolochirus violaceus and Pseudocolochirus axiologus, have proven especially popular with aquarium hobbyists. Both species reside along the coastlines of Australia and Southeast Asia.

3. THEY EAT WITH MUCUS-COVERED TENTACLES.

Sea cucumbers, the ocean's sanitation crew, eat by swallowing plankton, algae, and sandy detritus at one end of their bodies and then expelling clean, fresh sand out their other end. Sea apples use a different technique. A ring of mucus-covered tentacles around a sea apple's mouth snares floating bits of food, popping each bit into its mouth one at a time. In the process, the tentacles are covered with a fresh coat of sticky mucus, and the whole cycle repeats.

4. THEY’RE ACTIVE AT NIGHT.

Sea apples' waving appendages can look delicious to predatory fish, so the echinoderms minimize the risk of attracting unwanted attention by doing most of their feeding at night. When those tentacles aren’t in use, they’re retracted into the body.

5. THE MOVE ON TUBULAR FEET.

The rows of yellow protuberances running along the sides of this specimen are its feet. They allow sea apples to latch onto rocks and other hard surfaces while feeding. And if one of these feet gets severed, it can grow back.

6. SOME FISH HANG OUT IN SEA APPLES' BUTTS.

Sea apples are poisonous, but a few marine freeloaders capitalize on this very quality. Some small fish have evolved to live inside the invertebrates' digestive tracts, mooching off the sea apples' meals and using their bodies for shelter. In a gross twist of evolution, fish gain entry through the back door, an orifice called the cloaca. In addition expelling waste, the cloaca absorbs fresh oxygen, meaning that sea apples/cucumbers essentially breathe through their anuses.

7. WHEN THREATENED, SEA APPLES CAN EXPAND.

Most full-grown adult sea apples are around 3 to 8 inches long, but they can make themselves look twice as big if they need to escape a threat. By pulling extra water into their bodies, some can grow to the size of a volleyball, according to Advanced Aquarist. After puffing up, they can float on the current and away from danger. Some aquarists might mistake the robust display as a sign of optimum health, but it's usually a reaction to stress.

8. THEY CAN EXPEL THEIR OWN GUTS.

Sea apples use their vibrant appearance to broadcast that they’re packing a dangerous toxin. But to really scare off predators, they puke up some of their own innards. When an attacker gets too close, sea apples can expel various organs through their orifices, and some simultaneously unleash a cloud of the poison holothurin. In an aquarium, the holothurin doesn’t disperse as widely as it would in the sea, and it's been known to wipe out entire fish tanks.

9. SEA APPLES LAY TOXIC EGGS.

These invertebrates reproduce sexually; females release eggs that are later fertilized by clouds of sperm emitted by the males. As many saltwater aquarium keepers know all too well, sea apple eggs are not suitable fish snacks—because they’re poisonous. Scientists have observed that, in Pseudocolochirus violaceus at least, the eggs develop into small, barrel-shaped larvae within two weeks of fertilization.

10. THEY'RE NOT EASILY CONFUSED WITH THIS TREE SPECIES.

Syzgium grande is a coastal tree native to Southeast Asia whose informal name is "sea apple." When fully grown, they can stand more than 140 feet tall. Once a year, it produces attractive clusters of fuzzy white flowers and round green fruits, perhaps prompting its comparison to an apple tree.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios