Steven Spielberg Paid for David Lynch Cameo in Cheetos
Apparently, the going rate for an appearance from David Lynch is the same price that third graders charge for a peek at their homework. According to The Playlist, a Q&A session with Steven Spielberg following a screening of his highly anticipated semi-autobiographical drama The Fabelmans revealed that the the only compensation the avant-garde auteur demanded for his small role as — spoilers ahead — legendary filmmaker John Ford was for the set to have ample servings of Cheetos when Lynch is on the job. Because money would be far too normal a payment for the filmmaker who made Mulholland Drive.
Spielberg told members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that it took three weeks for him to convince the Twin Peaks creator to take the part. Lynch doesn’t often appear onscreen in movies that aren’t his own — the last feature-length film to score a cameo from the mind behind Eraserhead was 2017’s Lucky, a small-budget independent film directed by John Carroll Lynch, who shares no genes with David despite their surnames.
Spielberg credited the idea of casting Lynch in the part of John Ford to journalist and author Mark Harris, who is the husband of Tony Kushner, Spielberg’s highly decorated creative partner whose work in both theater and film earned him the National Medal of Arts in 2013. Spielberg and Kushner recruited Lynch’s longtime collaborator Laura Dern to help convince the reclusive director to take the part.
Like many Spielberg projects before it, The Fabelmans has generated significant buzz as a Best Picture frontrunner for the 95th Academy Awards. The Cheetos anecdote probably doesn’t do much to impact the film’s awards campaign, but it’s fun to imagine a swoopy-haired Lynch ruining his costume with orange fingerprints after sneaking in a snack between takes.