Back in September, I was watching some ’90s romantic comedy with my mother on the couch when a good friend text me saying, "Are you watching?" To which I replied, "Watching what?" "Louie. David Lynch," he said. I practically flew into the next room, turned on the television, and didn’t stop squealing with delight for a good fifteen minutes. I mean, yes, how many times I have seen David Lynch’s face—hell, I even hugged him last year—but it’s not everyday I turn on my television and there he is alongside Louis C.K., you know? Seeing that perfectly sculpted quaff of hair and hearing that "Jimmy Stewart from Mars" voice is always going to make me happy. And thanks to Louis, Lynch came into the living rooms of America once again with his brief but memorable role as Jack Dall, on Louie.
As Louie’s industry veteran/on-camera coach, Lynch’s role as Jack was as bizarre and wonderful as one could hope for. And after the show aired I couldn’t help but realize the similarities between the two men. The more I thought about it, the more they seemed made for each other—cut from different ends of the same cloth—on side heavily tethered to life’s mundane frustration and ennui, the other off in some nightmarish dreamscape—yet each dealing with what the hell it means to simply exist. But Lynch and Louis both are tremendous good at what they do and unwavering in their particular sensibilities. They show heightened versions of reality with absurd characters and plot lines that not only reveal the things we ignore or choose to hide but also find the humor in the darkest places. In writing about the episode back in the fall that:
…when you really think about it, you can almost see a direct parallel between Louis’s character Louie and Henry in Eraserhead. Just think about the infamous dinner scene in beginning of Eraserhead in comparison to the season opening with Louie and his girlfriend in a diner. Both Louie and Henry are perennially wearing a face of perplexed anxiety or confusion as they kind of meander through life, just trying to get by while the dual fears of failure and parenthood loom over them. The absurd characters that pop up on Louie really do feel like they could have been plucked from Lynch’s own coffee pot—for example, that kid who “diarrhea’d in the bathtub” or the parents that just pounce on Louie for help, it seems, whenever he goes to pick his daughters up from school. There’s also Louie’s use of long, painfully awkward takes that leave you questioning whether to cringe or to laugh, that feel inherently Lynchian in their almost uncanny delivery.
But anyhow, as two of my favorite working humans in show business, I was excited to see that Louis had recently gone into great detail with NYT’s Art Beat about casting Lynch. He reveals that after being turned down by Ben Gazzara (because he had passed away), Jerry Lewis, and Martin Scorsese, he happened upon Lynch and as a massive admirer realized, this is the guy:
I thought, “That would be really weird. It doesn’t make any sense. It makes no sense.” I put him in my head and I read the script and I’m like, “This is way better than any of those guys. This is the only guy that could ever do it. If I don’t get David Lynch, I’m not doing it."
But if course the process wasn’t easy, taking two months to seal the deal. Louis also goes on to say that:
I’ve learned when you work with people that are heroes to you, you have to be really careful, especially if you’re directing them. It’s unsettling to act and you feel a little untethered, and the director makes you feel like someone else is in control and it helps you. So when the director is someone going, “Oh my God, I’m like the biggest fan of you” – when he showed up, I said “Hi” to him, quickly. “You have any questions? Thank you for coming.” And I stayed away from him. And we just started shooting. The first thing we shot was him coming to say goodbye to me, his last scene. And he comes and sits down and he just says, “Well, I’ve done my part. Now it’s up to you. It’s just, if you can do it.” I’m sitting there in character, going, “I can’t believe how good everything he says is. This is way better than I thought it would be.” He had it perfectly memorized. He had something to prove as an actor.
You can read the article in its entirety HERE and if you haven’t seen the episode, I suggest you find a way to do that immediately.