David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, painter, musician, actor, and photographer. He is best known for films such as Eraserhead (1977), Blue Velvet (1986) and Mulholland Drive (2001), often regarded by critics as among the best films of their respective decades, and for his successful 1990–91 television series Twin Peaks, which led to him being labeled “the first popular Surrealist” by noted film critic Pauline Kael. A recipient of an Academy Honorary Award in 2019, he has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, and has won France’s César Award for Best Foreign Film twice, as well as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival. He has been described by The Guardian as “the most important director of this era”, while AllMovie called him “the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking”.Born to a middle-class family in Missoula, Montana, Lynch spent his childhood traveling around the United States before he studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he first made the transition to producing short films. He moved to Los Angeles, where he produced his first motion picture, the surrealist horror film Eraserhead (1977). After Eraserhead became a success on the midnight movie circuit, Lynch was employed to direct the biographical film The Elephant Man (1980), from which he gained mainstream success. He was then employed by the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and proceeded to make two films: the science-fiction epic Dune (1984), which proved to be a critical and commercial failure, and then a neo-noir mystery film Blue Velvet (1986), which stirred controversy over its violence but later grew in critical reputation.
Next, Lynch created his own television series with Mark Frost, the popular murder mystery entitled Twin Peaks (1990–1991). He also created a cinematic prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), a road film Wild at Heart (1990) and a family film The Straight Story (1999) in the same period. Turning further towards surrealist filmmaking, three of his subsequent films operated on dream logic non-linear narrative structures: Lost Highway (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001), and Inland Empire (2006). Meanwhile, Lynch embraced the Internet as a medium, producing several web-based shows, such as the animated DumbLand (2002) and the surreal sitcom Rabbits (2002). Lynch and Frost reunited for a third season of Twin Peaks, airing in on Showtime in 2017. Lynch co-wrote and directed every episode, as well as reprising his role as Gordon Cole.
Lynch’s other artistic endeavours include: his work as a musician, encompassing three studio albums—BlueBOB (2001), Crazy Clown Time (2011) and The Big Dream (2013)—as well as music and sound design for a variety of his films; painting and photography; writing three books—Images (1994), Catching the Big Fish (2006), and Room to Dream (2018); and directing several music videos and advertisements, including the Dior promotional film Lady Blue Shanghai (2006). An avid practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM), Lynch founded the David Lynch Foundation in 2005, which sought to fund the teaching of TM in schools and has since widened its scope to other at-risk populations, including the homeless, veterans and refugees. In 2019, he received an Academy Honorary Award; his first Oscar win.