Dean Stockwell's interview
Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch
Dean is talking about how he landed the role in Dune.
(Dean, speaking to the camera)
Back in the uh, late 60's, during the 70's, I was living in Topanga Canyon. There were a lot of people into individually making films. And every once in awhile I would have some showings of 16mm films at my house in Topanga Canyon. Now, David Lynch came through there and showed a film, one of his early films. Uh, later on, it turned out that I had totally forgotten this, that I had met David or that I had seen this film . . . until I saw the film again some 20 years later. It was called The Grandmother.
Speed the reel ahead, years go by. I'm having a hell of a time finding work of any sort. My career is [does an Al squint] "in the puddle." I got a call from an agent that I had at the time, that some Americano in a little B-movie in Mexico City had fallen out, and could I get down there very quickly and make $5.00 and do this film? And while I was there in Mexico City, I heard that some guy named David Lynch – I didn't remember the name, either – uh, was "prepping" a big film called Dune. David was having lunch with some folks. I met him there in the commissary, and he was very gracious . . . and very nice, and I told him I just loved Dune and if there was any part in there, I would really be thrilled to . . . and he said, "Sorry, but it's all cast."
And I got a call from a different agent now, yeah . . . that there was a part in this movie Dune, and David Lynch wanted me to do it. And I said, "I thought it was all cast?" And he said, "No, some guy pulled out of that." And I got on the phone, called Mexico City, and asked for David. He got on the line. David spoke first. He said, "Listen, I want to apologize for the way I reacted when I saw you in Trubusco Studios that day. I must have looked really strange, but I thought you were dead." And I said, "Well, sorry." [Smiles]
There I went down to Mexico and met David, and during the first couple of weeks of shooting Dune he divulged to me that we'd met before. "Don't you remember, I was over at your house, I showed The Grandmother?" I said, "Oh, oh yeah, oh great, great. How was it? Did you have a good time?" [Laughs]
[Looks up at camera slyly] I mean there were some of us that were sort of out of TOUCH in the 60's and early 70's in Topanga Canyon. We had a good time, we saw important movies, [Shrugs shoulders, smiling] and then we forgot them.
This one is talking about Blue Velvet.
David Lynch: Like, um, Dean Stockwell playing Ben in Blue Velvet was, you know, like way better, uh, a way better Ben than was written.
[Scene changes to Dean Stockwell, talking to camera]
When I first read the script of Blue Velvet, to be perfectly honest, uh, I loved everything about it except the character that David was asking me to do. [Laughs]
But here was a role in a story, in a screenplay, that was totally INCREDIBLE and bananas and off-the-wall and courageous and inventive and marvelous and wonderful and SICK and bizarre and all these things. I thought it was great.
It seemed to me that the real pivotal character in the film was Frank Booth. Who subsequently was Dennis Hopper. [Smiles] I know Dennis REAL well, so I had a good idea how he was gonna approach Frank Booth, and I knew that Frank was going to be an all-time Film Antagonist . . . an All-timer.
This character, BEN, read that he was the one individual that Frank seemed to gravitate toward and look UP to, and even be in AWE of, in some respect. So it just seemed to add up 2 and 2 is 4, that Ben had to be weirder than Frank. And farther out, if possible. So I put out my farther-out cap, and came up with the character that I did.