When you’re Steven Spielberg, you have the power to make certain calls – like asking David Lynch if he’ll pop up for the final five minutes of your movie. Not only that, but you can cast the Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet director as one of the (other) all-time-great filmmakers, the legendary John Ford, with whom a young Spielberg crossed paths at the very start of his career. And so, Spielberg did exactly that – when making The Fabelmans, his lightly fictionalised look-back at his own young years, he phoned Lynch directly to ask him to play the iconic Ford (complete with eyepatch) to dispense some all-important directorial wisdom to the young Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle).
In the new issue of Empire, we caught up with Lynch himself for our Review Of The Year 2023, speaking to him about playing the most surprising and joyous cameo role of the year. Not that he initially planned on taking it. “At first I didn’t want to do it,” Lynch tells Empire. “And the reason is, when it comes to acting, I’ve purposely tried to stay away from it, giving the likes of Harrison Ford and George Clooney a chance at their careers.” Ultimately though, he agreed since he “really liked the scene” – and he agreed, too, with the advice his John Ford gives the young Spielberg stand-in about the importance of where the horizon goes in the frame. “John Ford probably had a bunch of things he could call on to give a short education to that young lad. But he picked the horizon bit,” he says. “But it’s true. A horizon in the middle is boring as shit.”
Lynch’s main requirement for taking on the role? Having a bag of Cheetos in his dressing room. No, really. “Well, Cheetos, number one, I love them,” he says. “And any chance I can, I get them. But I know that they’re not exactly health food. So when I do leave the house and I get a chance to… But I don’t get them that often, honestly. If I do get them, I want a big bag. Because once you start… you need to have a lot before you could slow down and actually stop. Otherwise, with a small bag, then you’d be prowling for days to find more […] It’s incredible flavour.” The verdict is in: horizons in the middle, boring. Cheetos, thrilling.
Read Empire’s full interview with David Lynch – talking his cameo in The Fabelmans, his advice for young filmmakers, and how to capture John Ford’s mannerisms – in the Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes issue, on sale Thursday 21 December. Pre-order a copy online here.