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Film

Jeremy Irons describes David Lynch films as Rothko paintings

Veteran actor Jeremy Irons has been involved in many stellar projects over the years, including the likes of The French Lieutenant’s Woman and The Lion King. He has worked with some of the best filmmakers around, ranging from Steven Soderbergh to David Lynch, who cast him in his 2006 cinematic nightmare Inland Empire alongside Laura Dern and Harry Dean Stanton.

Irons recalled the role in a recent interview where he claimed that the opportunity to work with David Lynch changed his perceptive power as an actor. “David Lynch is so off the wall,” Irons said while describing the filmmaker who has made some of the most definitive surreal masterpieces such as Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive in the last few decades.

Usually, the learning process for a new role is a long one for Irons, but that wasn’t the case during the filming of Inland Empire. Irons recalled what he said to Lynch when he felt unprepared: “Now, you know, learning lines takes me a little while. It takes me the night before, maybe. But a page, you know, a day before. I said, ‘David, I can’t do this now!'”

However, Lynch is quite adept at handling actors and assured Irons that he had absolutely nothing to worry about in terms of the performance. Irons continued: “He said, ‘Of course you can. Listen, what do directors always have?’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know. Sometimes they have a chip on their shoulder? No. Hm, what they always have?'”.

Irons continued, detailing just how Lynch got him to put in a stellar performance for Inland Empire and get over his inhibitions. Irons added: “And he said, ‘They always have notes. So we’ll just write it down there, put it there, and you can even put it on the wall if you want.’ So I sort of prepared myself and we shot the scene in about an hour.”

Irons gushed: “He has that wonderful way of making you feel at ease and empowered. I think he’s a magical filmmaker.” He even described Lynch’s work as Rothko paintings: “When I saw Inland Empire, I thought ‘This is like sitting in front of a Rothko.'”

He explained his thought process by saying: “As an audience, you look at it and you think, ‘Well, I don’t know what it’s about, but it’s absolutely amazing.’ I see that image and I see that in it and someone else will see something quite different in it. That’s what I love about David’s work. It’s obscure and interesting.”

Watch the trailer for David Lynch’s enigmatic Inland Empire below.