Film & TV

Casting for Character

David Lynch

Lesson time 8:43 min

Casting is an intuitive process that can result in exciting discoveries and collaborations. Learn how to identify and recognize the right performer for a part and hear David discusses working with some of his favorite actors.

David Lynch
Teaches Creativity and Film
David Lynch teaches his unconventional process for translating visionary ideas into film and other art forms.
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Connect with your creativity

An avant-garde figure in filmmaking, David Lynch introduced mainstream audiences to art-house films. Now the Oscar-nominated director of Mulholland Drive teaches his cross-disciplinary creative process. Learn how he catches ideas, translates them into a narrative, and moves beyond formulaic storytelling. Embrace the art life in David’s MasterClass and learn to test the boundaries of your own artistic expression in any medium.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

David Lynch is pure creative. He is sensitive yet focused, clear and simple, drops profound gems. A master creative and very inspiring.

You're a film rockstar with a fabulous way of creating original works

I love everything of it but would hope that in the future you will put french subtitles, or choise of subtitles.

Mr. Lynch has an interesting perspective on creativity and film making that was easy for me to follow. I really enjoyed listening to him and watching his mind work through thoughts. I really enjoyed his explanation of transcendental mediation and how negativity kills creativity.


Jofre R.

It failed for me, as much as I like his work, I couldn't connect with his approach to develop a story.

Chava G.

I just learned that some how you have to care about this creative cacophony of ideas, people, words and memories. In fact you have to be consumed with fascination in order to fascinate others.

Mia S.

"Sheryl Lee was cast first from a still photo and then an interview, and she was only going to play a dead girl. I told her I wanted to dip her in gray dye, and she said that would be okay, and that she'd be dead by the shore, wrapped in plastic. Then there is this picnic scene that had to be shot, and she's with Laura Flynn Boyle, a bona fide great actress, and she just held her own as natural as can be, absolutely perfect Laura Palmer alive - and it was just a shame that she had to be dead. And one thing led to another, and she's lived on."

Mia S.

"Laura Dern is like family to me, and she's a great actress with all kinds of talent to do many, many, many different characters. She understands the human condition. She's pretty much 100% fearless, and she's a great soul. When you get to know someone - in case of Laura Dern, working with her on 'Blue Velvet' as Sandy, Sandy gave a certain feeling; but then getting to know Laura Dern, I see that Lula can be there as well. Lula is there in her. And going even further in 'Twin Peaks: The Return,' I see that Diane is in her, which is really almost like a grown-up Sandy. So you get to know someone, you see all these different things, possibilities, and the talent to realize them. I feel as if Kyle's family, and we have developed a kind of way - not a lot of talking, based on looks and hand signals and just quiet moments standing together - then he knows what to do. He didn't surprise me - he surprised a lot of people, but I knew - Kyle's a great actor, he's a born actor, and he's got all those different things in him. I always say, 'A great actor, they've got a bad person in them,' and Kyle found his bad person, but it's different than Frank Booth, Dennis Hopper's bad person. You find that thing, you find Dougie Jones in Kyle and you find Cooper in Kyle. It's just - they're all in there, and the only thing you really do is help them bring it out to the fullest."

Mia S.

"I've had experiences where people come in and they get the role for one thing, but in talking to them, I see that they could do this other thing. When you get to know somebody a little bit, you see other possibilities, and then when something comes up, you know they could do that too, which is quite a bit different than the other thing. Are they that character? Can they be that character from a deep place within? And that's the one you want. Because it's all common sense, you say, 'I want to get the right person for the part.' That makes sense, doesn't it? You can't just pick anybody, you want the right person. So you need to look at pictures, explain what you saw in your mind, the look of the actor you want, and then you explain the way the actor is in some things, and then people will help you find pictures of actors. Then I go by their face and then watching them talk about anything. Watching them and listening to them, I can tell if they will make it through the film if they're the right one. Sometimes, someone comes in for one part, but I hear them talk and walk and look, and they're right for another thing. So you watch their face, listen to them and you can tell if that person is the one that can make it through the film. You find that one that does make it through all the scenes that you're playing in your mind, then that's the right one. You're seeing their face and you're running them through - scene one, they have to play - 'Oh yeah, he could do that scene. Oh he could do that scene, too. Yeah, he would be great for that scene too.' You're running them through the film - this is your guy."

Bogdan I.

This was filmed in United States, because in Europe you are not allowed to smoke inside.

Maria R.

Amazing! A bright mind, a remarkable sensitive soul, thank you, Mr. Lynch. I feel honored to hear you.

Dillon G.

This perspective is invaluable. As someone who long considered himself an actor first and foremost, I've always had to view through that particular lens, even sometimes when I was in other roles *separate* from the character. Hearing Mr. Lynch discuss how he interacts, or listen rather, to an individual interested in the character inspires my process in directing. I'm actually excited about a new opportunity to cast a film, rather than dreading it. Yeah, it is really amazing and fun to solidly choose that final cast...but I feel as if the entire process was so contrived: read sides, over and over, sometimes being lucky to get an actor to read with! Well, I think the next time I go for an audition after this episode, I'll be ready in a brand new light.

Craig K.

Technically, that's why God made casting directors who go through lots of talent before they land on the right actor for the right part. Problem is, Lynch movies are not When Harry Met Sally movies so it would be damn near impossible for anyone else BUT DAVID LYNCH to cast for his roles, with the exception of Mark Frost perhaps. I subjectively view all of Lynch's most recent characters, especially in Twin Peeks as 'Quirky' and that makes them unique and damned difficult to find. Lynch runs into a wall when he gets stuck on a project like DUNE, where he's asked to do something not really his style; working with actors that could not understand what he wanted and it was all about the money. Not all directors are designed for all films. David Foster Wallace saw that with David Lynch with Dune and had the greatest of sympathies for him when Lynch was stuck in that predicament. In the end, Lynch is perhaps the GREATEST finder of and director of Quirky films that we will ever see. He belongs up there - maybe not up there as high as Billy Wilder, but darn close.


This is the first itme I have seen grat produciotn value from you. This is what should be in ALL of the MAsterclass peices! KUDOS!