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John Malkovich portraying David Lynch’s famous characters from 'Eraserhead', 'Twin Peaks' and more

John Malkovich is one of the rare ‘fine wine’ actors in the industry – as time progresses, he seems to deliver more refined, dexterous and richer performances. 

Like David Lynch, Malkovich effortlessly ventures through the recesses of his mind’s vortex and plucks inspiration from the unknown, for his characters demeanours, deliverance and mannerisms. Whilst humanity had their turn to voyage into Malkovich’s brain and become their own version of him in Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich, we’re sure it’s best to leave the seasoned veteran the responsibility of becoming somebody else. His career has always been fingertips away from Lynch’s, appearing in Places in the Heart instead of Wild at Heart and Empire of the Sun instead of Inland Empire (not to mention Mulholland Falls).

Whilst fate and casting preferences have served to separate these two tempests, in this video, Psychogenic Fugue, Malkovich demonstrates that he could have actually been cast in all of Lynch’s films. He submerges himself into Lynch’s ensemble – from Eraserhead’s Morrissey-quiffed Henry Spencer to Twin Peaks’ coffee sipping, endearingly lame special agent Dale Cooper, to darker incarnations such as Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth and Lost Highway’s Mystery Man. He even dabbles in unsung hero The Log Lady. 

The minute-long trailer for Psychogenic Fugue, although frustratingly short, admittedly. His film credits of old and his general persona have one attribute that most of Lynch’s characters seem to possess intensity.  Whether seemingly innocent pontifications as Dale Cooper about who pulled the trigger on JFK, or the delirious and violent threats of gas-chugging Frank Booth, Malkovich gives us a taster of being able to transform each line into its own story, with a disconcerting air that hangs over each snippet as menacingly as it does over the small logging town.

As Mystery Man, his stare is as skin-crawling as his predecessor’s Robert Blake, perhaps he too will be so invested into haunting Lost Highway’s Fred Madison that he’ll forget to blink. Malkovich also turns to become the director himself, an instantly recognisable silhouette shrouded by cigarette smoke. The short film and striking portraits of Malkovich’s realisations of these characters recently premiered at the Joshua Liner Gallery in New York, as well as Lynch’s own Festival of Disruption. Renowned photographer Sandro Miller, who worked on the project was quoted saying: “Working with Lynch and Malkovich, it just doesn’t get much better!” Malkovich himself was not short of superlatives for Lynch and his idiosyncratic creations: “He truly is from another planet. I couldn’t have been challenged more by another director. Imagine being asked to re-create scenes from this master director’s library of work. Intimidated? You bet I was,” he once said. It seems that even one of the most strikingly imposing actors on screen falls vulnerable at the feet of Lynch’s godly mind.  

Malkovich’s testing, and we are certain, a successful trial of his acting mettle is part of the ‘Playing Lynch’ project. The full twenty-minute video can be found at accompanied with a ten-dollar donation. The project is a fundraising scheme by the David Lynch Foundation, which aims to teach transcendental meditation to sufferers of traumatic stress.  This does, unfortunately, mean that the funds raised will not contribute to Lynch’s highly-anticipated but non-materialised next project. Although, if Lynch ever fancies making a physically and not just psychologically autobiographical film, then he knows just the man for the job. 

Below, enjoy some images of Malkovich in action courtesy of Joshua Liner Gallery.

(All images in this article have been sourced via the Joshua Liner Gallery and It’s Nice That)