Grips tend to be large, beefy blue-collar guys with walrus mustaches and baseball caps and big wrists and beer guts but extremely alert, intelligent eyes; they look like very bright professional movers, which is basically what they are. The production’s electricians, lighting guys, and effects guys, who are also as a rule male and large, are distinguished from the grips via their tendency to have long hair in a ponytail and to wear elaborate tool belts and T-shirts advertising various brands of esoteric high-tech gear.
None of the grips wear earrings, but more than 50 percent of the technical guys wear earrings, and a couple have beards, and four of the five electricians for some reason have Fu Manchu mustaches, and with their ponytails and pallor they all have the distinctive look of guys who work in record or head shops; plus in general the recreational-chemical vibe around these more technical blue-collar guys is very decidedly not a beer vibe.
A lot of the camera and sound and makeup crew are female, but a lot of these, too, have a similar look: thirtyish, makeupless, insouciantly pretty, wearing faded jeans and old running shoes and black T-shirts, and with lush, well-conditioned hair tied carelessly out of the way so that strands tend to escape and trail and have to be chuffed out of the eyes periodically or brushed away with the back of a ringless hand-in sum, the sort of sloppily pretty tech-savvy young woman you can just tell smokes pot and owns a dog. Most of these hands-on technical females have that certain expression around the eyes that communicates “Been there, done that.” A bunch of them at lunch won’t eat anything but bean curd and don’t regard certain grips’ comments about what bean curd looks like as in any way worthy of response. One of the technical women, the production’s still photographer, has on the inside of her forearm a tattoo of the Japanese character for “strength,” and she can manipulate her forearm’s muscles in such a way as to make the ideogram bulge Nietzscheanly and then recede.
A lot of the script people and assistant wardrobe people and production assistants are also female, but they’re of a different genus - younger, less lean, more vulnerable, without the technically savvy self-esteem of the camera or sound women. As opposed to the hands-on women’s weltschmerzian serenity, the script and PA females all have the same pained I-went-to-a-really-good-college-and-what-am-l-doing-with-my-life look around the eyes, the sort of look where you know that if they’re not in twice-a-week therapy it’s only because they can’t afford it. Another way to distinguish different crewpeople’s status and function is to look at what kind of personal communication gear they have. The rank-and-file grips are pretty much the only people without any kind of personal communicative gear. The rest of the hands-on and technical crew carry walkie-talkies, as do the location manager, the people in touch with the camera truck, and the burly guys manning the road’s barricades. Many of the other crew carry cellular phones in snazzy hipside holsters, and the amount of cellular-phone talking going on more than lives up to popular stereotypes about L.A. and cellulars. The second AD, a thirtyish black lady named Simone, whom I get to interact with a lot because she’s always having to politely inform me that I’m in the way of something and need to move, has an actual cellular headset instead of just a bolstered cellular phone, though with Simone the headset isn’t an affectation-the headset leaves her hands free to write stuff on her clipboard.
I think [Balthazar] is one of the most gorgeous and absurd real-person names I’ve ever heard, and I found myself on the set taking all kinds of notes about Balthazar Getty that weren’t really necessary or useful (since the actual Balthazar Getty turned out to be uninteresting and puerile and narcissistic as only an oil heir who’s a movie star just out of puberty can be).
[…] Balthazar Getty, about whom the less said the better, probably, except maybe to say that he looks sort of like Tom Hanks and John Cusack and Charlie Sheen all smunched together and then emptied of some ineffable but vital essence. He’s not particularly tall, but he looks tall in Lost Highway’s footage because he has extremely poor posture and Lynch has for some reason instructed him to exaggerate the poor posture. As a Hot Young Male Actor, Balthazar Getty is to Leonardo DiCaprio roughly what a Ford Escort is to a Lexus. His breakthrough role was as Ralph in the latest Lord of the Flies, in which he was bland and essenceless but not terrible. He was miscast and misdirected as a homeless kid in Where the Day Takes You (like how does a homeless kid manage to have fresh mousse in his hair every day9), and surprisingly good in White Squall. To be frank, it’s almost impossible for me to separate predictions about how good Balthazar Getty’s going to be in Lost Highway from my impressions of him as a human being around the set, which latter impressions were so uniformly negative that it’s probably better not to say too much about it. For just one thing, he’d annoy the hell out of everybody between takes by running around trying to borrow everybody’s cellular phone for an ‘emergency.’ For another thing, he was a heavy smoker but never had his own cigarettes and was always bumming cigarettes from crewpeople who you could tell were making about I percent of what he was making on the movie. I admit I eavesdropped an some of his cellular-phone conversations, and in one of them he said to somebody ‘But what did she say about me?’ three times in a row. I admit none of these are exactly capital offenses, but they added up. Okay, fuck it: The single most annoying thing about Balthazar Getty was that whenever Lynch was around, Getty would be very unctuous and over-respectful and ass-kissy, but when Lynch wasn’t around Getty would make fun of him and do an imitation of his distinctive speaking voice that wasn’t a very good imitation but struck me as being disrespectful and mean.)
The first time I lay actual eyes on the real David Lynch on the set of his movie, he’s peeing on a tree. This is on 8 January in L.A.’s Griffith Park, where some of Lost Highway’s exteriors and driving scenes are being shot. He is standing in the bristly underbrush off the dirt road between the base camp’s trailers and the set, peeing on a stunted pine. Mr. David Lynch, a prodigious coffee drinker, apparently pees hard and often, and neither he nor the production can afford the time it’d take to run down the base camp’s long line of trailers to the trailer where the bathrooms are every time he needs to pee. So my first (and generally representative) sight of Lynch is from the back, and (understandably) from a distance. Lost Highway’s cast and crew pretty much ignore Lynch’s urinating in public, (though I never did see anybody else relieving themselves on the set again, Lynch really was exponentially busier than everybody else.) and they ignore it in a relaxed rather than a tense or uncomfortable way, sort of the way you’d ignore a child’s alfresco peeing.
THE WORD postmortem is admittedly overused, but the incongruity between the peaceful health of his mien and the creepy ambition of his films is something about David Lynch that is resoundingly postmodern. Other postmodern things about him are ‘his speaking voice - which can be described only as sounding like Jimmy Stewart on acid-and the fact that it’s literally impossible to know how seriously to take what he says. This is a genius auteur whose vocabulary in person consists of things like okey-doke and marvy and terrif and gee. When a production assistant appears with the tuna-fish sandwich he’s asked for, he stops in the middle of his huddle with the Steadicam operator and tells her “Thanks a million.” David Letterman says this kind of stuff too, but Letterman always says it in a way that lets you know he’s making fun of about 400 things at the same time. With Lynch it’s not at all clear that this is what he’s doing. Another example: After the last car-filming run and return to base, as people are dismantling cameras and bounces and Chesney is putting the unused film under a reflective NASA blanket, Lynch, three times in five minutes, says “Golly!” Not one of these times does he utter “Golly!” with any evident irony or disingenuousness or even the flattened affect of somebody who’s parodying himself. (Let’s also remember that this is a man with every button on his shirt buttoned and high-water pants.) During this same tri-“Golly!” interval, though, about 50 yards down the road, Mr. Bill Pullman, who’s sitting in a big canvas director’s chair getting interviewed for his E.P.K.,(i.e., ‘Electronic press kit,’ a bite-intensive interview that Lost Highway’s publicists can then send off to Entertainment Tonight, local TV stations that want Pullman bites, etc.) is leaning forward earnestly and saying of David Lynch: “He’s so truthful-that’s what you build your trust on, as an actor, with a director” and “He’s got this kind of modality to him, the way he speaks, that lets him be very open and honest and at the same time very sly. There’s an irony about the way he speaks.
Lynch’s face is the best thing about him. In photos of him as a young man, Lynch looks rather uncannily like James Spader, but he doesn’t look like James Spader anymore. His face is now full in the sort of way that makes certain people’s faces square, and his eyes-which never once do that grotesque looking-in-opposite-directions-at-once thing they were doing on the 1990 Time cover-are large and mild and kind. In case you’re one of the people who figure that Lynch must be as “sick” as his films, know that he doesn’t have the beady or glassy look one associates with obsessive voyeurism or OCD or degeneracy-grade mental trouble. His eyes are good eyes: He looks at stuff with very intense interest, but it’s a warm and fullhearted interest, sort of the way we all look when we’re watching somebody we love doing something we also love. He doesn’t fret or intrude on any of the technicians, though he will come over and confer when somebody needs to know what exactly he wants for the next setup. He’s the sort who manages to appear restful even in activity; i.e., he looks both very alert and very calm. There might be something about his calm that’s a little creepy-one tends to think of really high-end maniacs being oddly calm, e.g. the way Hannibal Lecter’s pulse rate stays under 80 as he bites somebody’s tongue out.