Scott Ian Recalls Al Pacino’s Acting Helping Him Impress David Lynch

Scott Ian recently recalled working with David Lynch, why the director cut his scene out of the final version, and how Henry Rollins encouraged him to look intimidating.

When Ian’s friend, Jennifer, who was working with Lynch on the set of ‘Lost Highway,’ heard the director was looking to cast a death row inmate, she thought Scott looked quite the part (what a compliment), and luckily, David thought so too. So, he recruited the Anthrax rocker into the cast, and Scott had one particular scene where he needed to look very intimidating.

The scene featured Rollins, who played a guard, would slip a food tray into Ian’s cold, dark cell, and the rocker needed to look dangerous enough that Henry would feel intimated and quickly leave him alone.

However, after a few takes of that scene, it was apparent that Lynch wasn’t content with Scott’s skills to look creepy, so he came up to him and encouraged him to believe that Henry Rollins was someone he hated quite intensely, even advising the rocker to act like Henry was a dangerous alien.

Still, it was tough for the rocker to scare someone like Rollins, who looked pretty intimidating himself. Luckily, the actor gave him a few tips on how to look his part by reminding him of the time when Al Pacino, who had a shorter height when considered to Henry, beat him in the movie, ‘Heat,’ despite looking less intimidating. And well, that’s all Ian needed to hear.

However, when the first public screening day approached, David sent the rocker a letter inviting him to the gala, though remarking that his scene didn’t make it to the final part of the film. Still, the director appreciated Scott by thanking him for his work and for being an ‘integral piece’ of the creative process.

Ian’s words on recalling how he almost featured in a Lynch movie:

“I was playing an inmate on death row in David Lynch’s film ‘Lost Highway.’ My friend Jennifer worked for David and suggested to me when she heard David was looking to cast an inmate. David said, ‘Scott has the right look.’ I took that as a compliment. My scene was in the prison that Bill Pullman is in.

I’m sitting in my cold, dark cell and the small window in the door slides open, and a guard (played by Henry Rollins) slides a food tray in. I get up, walk to the window and stare at Henry until Henry, unnerved by my vicious stare, closes the window.

We practiced the scene a few times for camera, and then David came over to give me direction, [He said] Scott, I want you to stare Henry down because you hate Henry, you hate Henry, and you want to kill Henry, Henry is an alien species that you have never seen before and he’s a threat to you and you need to kill that threat.”

This was all said to me in the same loud voice David had as Gordon Cole on Twin Peaks  I thanked David for the direction and walked off thinking, David Lynch just directed me for a scene, and how the hell am I supposed to be more challenging than Henry? It was all too much. David called for a ten-minute break, and I headed over to Henry.”

He continued:

“I told him it was nuts that I was supposed to be the hard guy in the scene. We had a laugh, and then Henry asked, ‘Did you see ‘Heat?’ ‘Of course,’ I answered. Then a smirking Henry leaned in and said, ‘Remember the scene where Al Pacino, who is this tall [Henry held his hand up to denote how not tall Al Pacino is], beat the sh*t out of me?’

‘Hahaha, yeah, I remember.’ I said, starting to understand where he was going with this, and then Henry exclaimed, ‘Acting!’ We had another laugh, headed back to set, and when David said, ‘Action!’ I was ready. Thanks, Henry.

So in this letter, when David refers to my character, it makes me feel that my acting was good enough for David Lynch, and saying I was ‘an integral part of the creative process‘ ain’t too bad either! Thanks, David! And thanks, Jenn, for making it all possible.”

So, it seems that Scott’s looked like the right person to play a death row inmate, though he kind of struggled to appear intimidating against Henry, so when he needed a few pieces of advice, both Lynch and Rollins were there with their directives. However, the rocker couldn’t make the final edit, though it felt like a unique experience for him.

Photo Credit: Scott Ian – Instagram