“The Light Here Makes Me Feel Free”: A Conversation With David Lynch in the Chateau Marmont Penthouse

“The Light Here Makes Me Feel Free”: A Conversation With David Lynch in the Chateau Marmont Penthouse
David Lynch
(Billy Farrell Agency)

LOS ANGELES — On the day of our interview with David Lynch, we took the elevator to the sixth floor of the Chateau Marmont and walked into the penthouse. The wraparound patio emerged beyond the living room, below the hotel’s peak, which looked like the confectionary top of a cottage. Down below, the bushy paths to the bungalows wound their way through the pools and greenery, and farther out the buildings of downtown L.A. seemed to sway in the heat.

At one point, a car smashed into another on Sunset Boulevard.

There’s a view of the hills that comes up behind Hollywood, but when craning our neck to the left to get a glimpse of the sign, we happened instead upon Lynch, sitting in a secluded area on the patio, eating salad and drinking coffee, gently pressing a napkin to his mouth at regular intervals.

It was Lynch’s last obligation of the three-day-long celebration for the bottle of Champagne he designed for Dom Perignon. We had seen him the night before, at Milk Studios, where he created an elaborate maze that led guests from one decked-out room to the next until the final auditorium, where a structure was opened up, revealing the customized bottles. 

But on Thursday afternoon it was a more subdued affair — the filmmaker chatting after lunch with a few journalists. Most of the other writers asked about the champagne, but we took a different approach. 

Hi, I’m Nate Freeman, it’s good to see you, David.

It’s good to see you, too, Nate.

What is your definition of the American Dream?

The American Dream is this: people should be free to fulfill their desires and have a shot of doing what they really believe in. I think it’s more of a human dream, but that’s what it is to me.

We’re here in the Chateau Marmont, which is a fabled part of the Hollywood legend. “Mulholland Drive” touched upon that in a very deep way. What role does this hotel play in the world of movies, in your real life, and the lives of the people who live in Los Angeles?

They have fried chicken and mashed potatoes on Sunday nights.

[long pause]

One last question—

I want to say one more thing about the Chateau. It’s got a great mood. It’s got a mood that’s keeping alive the golden age of cinema, and I think that’s really beautiful and important. 

I agree. Now, Dom Perignon, the original man behind all this, was a Benedictine Monk. You’re a very religious person...

I am?

In terms of transcendental meditation…

Well, in that way, yes, but transcendental meditation is not a religion. I do love monks, though. I love the monk life. 

Have you ever considered becoming a monk?

No, but I do love being alone to work. I don’t live the simple life, but I like the idea of the simple life.

Well, those are my questions

Thank you, Nate

Lynch went on, talking to the other writers about the early stages he’s in for a potential new film, his appreciation for Lana Del Rey, and the next field he wants to try and master (“Surgery,” he said).

And afterward we went down to garden for a Negroni, sitting at a table adjacent to Angelica Houston, the writer James Frey, and Jeremy Renner, star of “The Bourne Legacy.” No one acknowledged a thing.

We left in the evening, but before the plane took off, we walked the beach in Venice, the reflection of the sun spilling out on the surface of the ocean, bikers kicking up sand on the sidewalk, the squawking of the gulls, all drenched in the same shade of yellow that arrives at the time of dusk.

During our interview, Lynch described the scene better than anyone else could.

“I don’t feel confined by anything and I credit a lot of that to Los Angeles,” he said, looking out the window of the penthouse. “The light here makes me feel free, and that I can do anything. So it’s real important for me to be in L.A.”