the 50 best david lynch characters: the countdown
Time Out Film count down the greatest David Lynch creations
Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan)
As seen in 'Twin Peaks'
‘Give me a donut’
In the long and complex history of the narrative arts, from Homer to Harry Potter, writers have struggled with a seemingly insoluble problem: why is it that the good guys are so boring? Whether it’s Odysseus, Luke Skywalker or Frodo Baggins, the decent chap at the heart of everything is always just a bit dull – hence the rise of anti-heroes and conflicted protagonists, your James Bonds and Batmen, fighting for the angels with the devil’s weapons. But in the world of David Lynch, there’s little room for such uncertainty and self-doubt: his villains are some of the most vile and vicious ever devised, so his heroes must be equally pure. And of all the great Lynchian leading men, there’s none who so perfectly embodies the forces of light like Dale Cooper. Cooper is, in a very direct sense, the ultimate Lynchian figure, a self-portrait of the artist as a perfect man. Like Lynch, he’s essentially an overgrown boy scout: truthful, inquisitive, courageous and caring. But he’s also aware of – and fascinated by – the horrors of the world, obsessed with getting to the root of humanity’s capacity for evil. The character is an extension of the work MacLachlan and Lynch had done in ‘Blue Velvet’: the prurient but upstanding Jeffrey Beaumont taken to his logical conclusion, from solving sleazy suburban mysteries to working for the FBI. Taken together, Jeffrey and Dale provide a remarkable insight into the way Lynch’s mind works, and the character traits he prizes above all others: openness, bravery, curiosity and an endless capacity for wonderment and joy. The result is a hero who is at once utterly flawless and endlessly fascinating: the man we’d all like to believe ourselves capable of becoming, none more so than his creator.