Balthazar Getty Says He's Loyal To David Lynch | Dallas Observer

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Balthazar Getty Takes Us Inside the Surrealist World of Director David Lynch

Balthazar Getty says he has a great professional relationship and personal friendship with David Lynch, who directed him in the film Lost Highway and on TV with Twin Peaks: The Return.
Balthazar Getty says he has a great professional relationship and personal friendship with David Lynch, who directed him in the film Lost Highway and on TV with Twin Peaks: The Return. Michael Muller
Balthazar Getty says he has a great sense of loyalty to David Lynch. Getty, an actor, photographer and musician, worked with the filmmaker in the noir-thriller film Lost Highway and played the disappearing drug dealer Red in Lynch and Mark Frost's highly anticipated Twin Peaks: The Return.

"David is one of those guys you'll do anything for him as an actor," Getty says. "You wanna make him happy. You really have that dynamic. That's always the way I was with him. How can I make David happy?"

The loyalty doesn't come from a place of fear — like the kind that inspired The Shining thanks to director Stanley Kubrick's meticulous nature, sometimes coupled with outright abuse. Lynch's ability to get great performances and scenes out of his cast comes from being the complete opposite, according to Getty.

"Also, he's somebody who knows very much what he wants out of his actors," he says. "He also challenged me and pushed me very much throughout the filming. I can even recalling coming to tears at certain times because I wasn't able to deliver what he wanted. I see him as a mentor and a friend. If you speak to an actor or crew or anybody, we'll all follow David into any battle he tells us to go into and that brings out that kind of loyalty and devotion to him."

Coming to the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff, David Lynch: A Complete Retrospective is a week-long celebration of Lynch's signature and uncompromising style and vision. The series includes screenings of some of his best and most memorable films: Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, The Elephant Man, Wild at Heart, the Twin Peaks film sequel Fire Walk With Me and Lost Highway. The Lost Highway screening on Saturday will also feature a live Q&A with Getty and his co-star, Natasha Gregson Wagner.

Lynch's work is bathed in deep symbolism that helped build his fanbase by encouraging audiences to discuss his films' themes and deeper meanings — long before the internet became a virtual rap session for film fandom. Getty says part of the fun and interest in doing a project with Lynch in the director's chair is how the mysteries stay so contained even when you're working with a script.

"You know you have the script but you never know what we made with Lost Highway," Getty says. "You know your lines and the basic story but you didn't understand things until you saw the film. I didn't know how scary the movie was gonna be. For whatever reason, that didn't across on the paper. You just love and trust him and know it's gonna be authentic."
Part of Lynch's storytelling method involves a heavy use of secrets kept not just from the characters but from the audience.

"He would whisper things in my ear," Getty says referring to his time on the set for Lost Highway, in which he played a mysterious figure (Pete) who starts a dangerous affair with a mobster's girlfriend played by Patricia Arquette. "This is something David does and he did it a lot on Lost Highway. He'd give me letters and stuff like that and he's writing all sorts of bizarre insights and crazy little stories to bring out a performance."

Lynch can also be very resourceful on the set to elicit the exact performance he needs for a scene.

"Even later in the film, there's a scene with me and Patricia in the hotel where she's kind of planning for Pete to show up and rob the guy and he actually got me to sit on my hands for the entire scene," Getty says. "I had to literally sit on my hands because as an actor, you tend to use your hands a lot to show emotion but when you put your hands under your butt and sit on them, suddenly you're forced to do more with your face and be more expressive, or even less expressive."

Even when they're not on the set together, the two continue to inspire each other thanks to their shared love of music. Getty has recorded several albums and tracks with playful beats. He's also crafted songs in a variety of genres in bands such as Ringside and as his rap persona Balt Getty, both through his Purplehaus Records label. Getty seems to have the same interest in experimenting as Lynch with tracks such as "Action," which presents an AI version of Drake.

"His love for music and my love for music is something that's very much part of the process," Getty says of Lynch. "One of the things he does that no other director I've ever worked with did is when actors weren't talking, he'd blast the music for the scene and that would be in the scene. It brought you in; suddenly, you're hearing the soundtrack."  Getty says when the final cut is released, he is still able to enjoy the discovery and journey Lynch takes his audiences on because being on the set doesn't ruin or damper what he feels when he sees the films for the first time.

"Certain directors riff and let you stick close to the script," Getty says. "With David, you need to say them the way they're written pretty much and you didn't know what it was gonna be: surreal, scary or sex. You didn't understand until you saw the film, and then you understand it." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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