Fans of David Lynch are getting a kick out of his recent return to television as hearing-impaired FBI Agent Gordon Cole in Twin Peaks: The Return. While the tone 5 episodes in is much darker and enigmatic than the first 2 seasons of Twin Peaks (from the early 1990s) the irrepressible quirkiness of Cole comes shining through every time he opens his mouth. The character is a reminder that the mastermind of the entire series has a wicked sense of humor, no matter how harrowing or challenging his work may be.
But fans of David Lynch and prime time cartoons enjoyed the filmmaker’s cameos for years on The Cleveland Show (before it was canceled!). In case you never put two and two together, the opaque bartender at The Broken Stool, the one who looks a lot like David Lynch, actually is David Lynch. He’s Gus, the off-kilter suds-slinger who claims to be 117 years old and has a hidden dark side.
It’s no accident or mere coincidence that he got the gig; voice actor Mike Henry, the man who voices Cleveland Brown on Family Guy and the short-lived show that bore his namesake. Henry has statedWild at Heart, a Lynch film released in 1990 starring Nick Gage and Laura Dern, was a major influence on him and a huge motivator in his decision to pursue a career in entertainment. When Henry first learned about the character Gus in The Cleveland Show’s pilot, he lobbied hard for Lynch to get the gig. The rest, as they say, is history.
For anyone wondering why Henry knew Lynch would make for a perfect Gus, just check out how naturally bizarre and random the multi-genre artist actually is in the footage below; it’s from an appearance on The Tonight Show in 1991.
Another thing that makes Lynch so perfect for the role of Gus is the character’s hidden dark.
In “Gone with the Wind” the upstairs room over the bar is filled with skulls, a guillotine, and other assorted macabre items. In “Nightmare on Grace Street”, it is revealed that Gus secretly uses the meat from human corpses in the sandwiches served at his bar. At the end of the episode, he is even seen giving a wink to the camera as he hauls the body of Donny away in his car, hinting this process is going to continue. In “Who Done Did It?”, he designs an exercise video of a stalker chasing a victim. In “Fist and the Furious”, he has an impressive assortment of weapons and has booby-trapped toilets. He greets Cleveland and the guys from a mausoleum crypt at the Stoolbend Cemetery in “Grave Danger”. Gus has a hearse low rider with ghosts instead of hydraulics in “Crazy Train”.
The Cleveland Show was canceled in 2013, so we have no idea what Gus has been up to since, although Lynch made a cameo on Family Guy in 2016—as himself!
If you’re curious, check out the trailer and synopsis for Wild at Heart below; just be forewarned, it’s one of Lynch’s most disturbing offerings. Enjoy!
Official Synopsis: After serving prison time for a self-defense killing, Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage) reunites with girlfriend Lula Fortune (Laura Dern). Lula’s mother, Marietta (Diane Ladd), desperate to keep them apart, hires a hit man to kill Sailor. But he finds a whole new set of troubles when he and Bobby Peru (Willem Dafoe), an old buddy who’s also out to get Sailor, try to rob a store. When Sailor lands in jail yet again, the young lovers appear further than ever from the shared life they covet.