(Credit: Alamy)

The bizarre moment when David Lynch used a cow to promote Laura Dern

David Lynch, one of the great maverick minds of modern cinema, is always thinking outside of the box. He’s a talent who has crafted worlds on screen in a way that only he can mould, but his skills aren’t restricted to purely behind a camera. Lynch is also the master of promotion, as this zany campaign to get Laura Dern nominated for an Academy Award proves.

Lynch is a master in eccentricity, and his methods are never short of a dosage of madness. Still, his decision to go against the grain in 2007 following Laura Dern’s performance in Inland Empire is off the scale even by the director’s strange standards. Dern delivered a crown in the jewel performance, one which Lynch believed deserved to be in line for consideration for an Oscar. However, rather than littering adverts in Hollywood press to ensure all the right people read it, Lynch decided that approach was all too obvious and he had other ideas.

Instead, he parked himself out on a summer chair by the side of the road on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard, chain-smoking cigarettes whilst donning an immaculate suit – which is an unconventional sight already – but that wasn’t weird enough for Lynch. There was a large canvas of Dern on his left shoulder, which read ‘For Your Consideration’ and had the actor’s name at the bottom. Then, for some unbeknown reason, on his right shoulder was a cow who accompanied him.

This move, unsurprisingly, caught the attention of plenty of passers-by who couldn’t quite believe the sight in front of their eyes. One member of the general public approached Lynch why another poster on show read: “Without cheese there wouldn’t be an Inland Empire.” The director then responded by saying, “Cheese is made from milk, get it?” 

In an interview with Wired, Lynch explained his outside-the-box marketing strategy in more detail, stating: “You know, there are a bunch of Academy members and all sorts of other awards activity going on out there. And people solve problems with money normally; well, I don’t have any money. And I also feel that the Academy members must be sick of seeing ad after ad after ad costing a fortune with no one really paying attention.

“Honestly, I’m out there with the cow, and meeting the greatest bunch of people. The other day, we had my friend (director of USC’s Polish Music Center) Marek Zebrowski out there playing piano. It was so beautiful, such a great day, out with Georgia the cow, beautiful piano music, meeting so many great people.”

Lynch, seemingly having the time of his life, smoking and drinking coffee whilst soaking up the Hollywood sun, would later find disappointment. Unfortunately, there was no Oscar nomination for Laura Dern. Inland Empire didn’t receive a single nomination at the ceremony, with the Academy Awards not letting themselves get buttered up by Lynch’s marketing methods. Nonetheless, this sort of antic is a microcosm inside the mind of Lynch, is there another director on the planet who would pull such a bizarre stunt? No chance.