The Friday Five: Lynch’s Leading Ladies

by Fiorella Valdesolo (Brooklyn)

I grew up with a brother who was David Lynch obsessed, so my family spent many a holiday on the sofa ensconced in Twin Peaks marathons. Lynch fans—a devoted bunch to say the least—know there is no one quite so wonderfully weird as this accomplished director. And though I would happily reflect on his oeuvre anytime, today is especially fitting since it’s his birthday (the big 6-6). To celebrate, a look at some of the most memorable of Lynch’s leading ladies.

1. Isabella Rossellini as Dorothy Vallens in Blue Velvet (1986)

A severed ear kicks off the murder mystery that remains Lynch’s most iconic—and definitely most disturbing—film. In Rossellini’s able hands, the character of a mysterious, fragile nightclub singer—in slinky midnight blue dresses, aqua eyeshadow and scarlet lipstick, no less—was riveting to watch. Case in point: the scene where she breathily croons, “And I can still see blue velvet through my tears.”

2. Laura Dern as Lula Pace Fortune in Wild at Heart (1990)

Laura Dern is back in the spotlight now, having picked up a Golden Globe just last week (looking stunning, we might add) for her role as the unhinged lead on Showtime’s Enlightened. Hard to believe it was over 20 years ago when she played wild child Lula Pace Fortune, with her mop of wild blonde curls and penchant for underwear-as-outerwear, opposite Nicolas Cage, the snakeskin jacket–wearing paramour Sailor Ripley.

3. Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks (1990)

The character of Audrey Horne changes dramatically over the course of Lynch’s surreal cult series—and yet, Sherilyn Fenn perfectly captured this subtle evolution from bratty, entitled teenager to impassioned young woman. And though she seemed to ooze an easy sensuality, Audrey was as prim as she dressed (think modest hemlines and cardigan twinsets).

4. Patricia Arquette as Renee and Alice in Lost Highway (1997)

A 21st century film noir, Lost Highway is a strange tale that volleys between waking and dream life. Once again, Lynch uses the open road as a backdrop for a shady, sometimes violent adventure that sees the bodacious Patricia Arquette playing two women: reserved brunette Renee Madison and platinum blonde bombshell Alice Wakefield—or is it two sides of the same woman? Hmmm.

5. Naomi Watts as Betty and Diane in Mulholland Drive (2001)

One actress playing two roles and the open road as a backdrop: sound familiar? In Mulholland Drive, the road is the scene for a violent car accident that leaves the driver an amnesiac and sets off a chain of mysterious events. Naomi Watts is captivating as both Betty, a small-town girl who comes to Hollywood to make it big, and Diane, a washed-up depressed actress, in this dramatic thriller.