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Mulholland Drive
Mulholland Drive (2001)

Even David Lynch didn’t know what was going on in Mulholland Drive

Justin Theroux says working with the filmmaker was like being ‘on an escalator into a cloud’

If you were confused about what was going on in Mulholland Drive, you’re not alone – apparently David Lynch had no idea what was happening either.

Justin Theroux, who played director Adam Kesher in the 2001 cult classic, has said that he knew nearly nothing about his character, and that Lynch himself was unable to offer any more insight.

“He’s a total outlier because he doesn’t answer your questions,” Theroux told IndieWire over the weekend. “(On) the first couple days of Mulholland Drive, I was of course peppering him with a million questions like, ‘Well, why am I here? Who’s the cowboy? What’s going on? What reality are we in?’”

Theroux explained that on the first day of shooting, Lynch “cleared the whole set” because he needed to talk to the actor. “We went into the house (where we were) shooting the scene where I come home and find my wife with the poor guy, (played by) Billy Ray Cyrus. I started asking (Lynch) questions… When I finished a question, (he’d say), ‘You know, I don’t know, buddy. But let’s find out’. He wasn’t being cute or cheeky or evasive – he genuinely didn’t know.”

“It’s like you’re on an escalator into a cloud with him,” Theroux continued, “you never know where the escalator lets off.”

Mulholland Drive – which voted the best film of the 21st century in a 2016 poll by BBC Culture – follows Rita (played by Laura Harring) as she descends into a dark, psychological mystery, on a journey to discover her true identity following a car crash that gives her amnesia. After the accident, she’s rescued by wannabe actor Betty (Naomi Watts), and the pair form a detective duo.

Speaking to Dazed in 2017, Harring said of the film’s meaning: “I saw it five or six times when we were travelling to festivals. I kept having different interpretations. It could be Rita’s dream or it could be Betty’s dream. And it’s about the disillusionment of Hollywood. It touches the core of what it is to be human, and the truth about love. And maybe we’re not sure what reality is. Maybe we’re dreaming, and that’s reality.”

Watch the trailer for Mulholland Drive below.