HomeCelebrity NewsIn search of The Elephant Man’s script, David Lynch turned to Eraserhead

In search of The Elephant Man’s script, David Lynch turned to Eraserhead

There’s almost as much madness behind David Lynch’s sophomore film “The Elephant Man” as there is in the film itself. The epic drama takes place during the Victorian era and follows a man with a significant facial deformity who works as a sideshow attraction.

His life is brutally mistreated until he is taken under the wing of a kind surgeon. David Lynch and a producer who took him under his wing experienced a similar dynamic.

After completing his unsettling and surreal debut, “Eraserhead,” Lynch began writing a screenplay. The movie was inspired by a script Lynch wrote after Eraserhead, which he titled Ronnie Rocket (via Julius Deane).

A bedroom in my parent’s house is where I wrote the script, the director confessed. We were unable to secure funding for our film. “I tried my best to get Stewart Cornfeld to help me, but I had no luck,” Lynch admitted. A connection Cornfeld would later use was his work as a producer under Mel Brooks.

Lynch had no choice but to drop “Ronnie Rocket” and ask Cornfeld if he could direct any scripts. To Lynch’s delight, there were four. In the lunchtime conversation, Cornfeld revealed the title for his first script – “The Elephant Man.” “It was like a small bomb went off in my head,” Cornfeld recalled. I instantly knew what I wanted to do. The other three ideas never crossed my mind.”

Despite the involvement of Cornfeld, Lynch, and producer Jonathan Sanger, financing remained an issue. There was only one problem: no one was interested. Lynch lamented, “They said nobody wanted to see a film about a monster like this, and that was the end of it.” (via Sean Adair). It was a major Hollywood name – Mel Brooks – that saved “The Elephant Man”. 

It was a great script, but Brooks had never heard of Lynch before. In order to work with Lynch, the producer insisted that he watch the director’s first film, “Eraserhead.” The director believed Brooks would never be interested in Lynch’s style. In response to Sanger and Cornfeld, he said, “Well, it’s been nice getting to know you two.”.

To Lynch’s surprise, his premonitions turned out to be completely false. A door blew open outside the screening room and Mel ran toward me,” the director recalled. Brooks hugged Lynch and told him, “You’re a madman, you’re in!” Lynch found it “unbelievable” that Brooks loved “Eraserhead,” but Brooks was completely charmed by Lynch’s personality.

In his words, Lynch is “like Jimmy Stewart if Jimmy Stewart was born on Venus!” This producer took a chance on Lynch, forming a harmonious creative partnership. Lynch was able to maintain his creative freedom every step of the way thanks to Brooks. Lynch insisted, “Mel has backed me in ways you can’t imagine – people have tried to change this, do this, give me all kinds of hell – but he would not let it happen.”

As a result, the film received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Lynch explained: “It won nothing – but it doesn’t matter.” As a result, “I got on the map, I got a great experience… It was just a blessing!”

Robert Poirrer is a contributing author who covers Hollywood latest movie releases and web series for the MovieThop website. He has a decade of experience in writing movies based articles for numerous renowned media outlets. He is excellent at creating unique content based on emerging trends in a variety of categories especially entertainment, movies and lifestyle. When not writing articles you could find Robert enjoying mountain biking trips with his friends. He graduated in English Literature from North Carolina State University.