Eraserhead: Lady In The Radiator

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a) Idea coinciding with Taking up meditation
The lady in the radiator was not in the original script.

David Lynch had been meditating for about a year and maybe it was a little less than a year after they started shooting the film but it might well have been when he had the idea for the Lady In The Radiator.

So an assumption might be that the character came through as an idea as a result of his practice of meditation.

However the story about this character is that it started to come through, perhaps six months into the shoot which was half way through it and they were taking a break from it.

One day David was sitting in the food room , he drew this small lady and what were what appeared to be little fetuses falling out of her.

The idea would develop more and more.

He then wrote the lyrics for the song "In Heaven", and he thought that she would live in he radiator where it's nice and warm, and this would be a real comfort for Henry.
b) Small box like compartment in radiator that awaited a tenant

Then David thought "gee!" and he went running into this set which was across the hall.

He then looked at the radiator and lo and behold it was a certain kind of radiator with a square in it, but what kind of radiator it actually was would fade from memory
They had already shot scenes of the radiator with Henry looking at the radiator two different times and in the radiator there was a weird small box like compartment that most radiators didn't have, so it was if she was already going to be there but they just didn't know it.

c) The value of the addition
For David Lynch, the lady in the radiator represented the goodness in Henry's life, a sort of a beacon of light and hope, the real light in this dark world and the film was totally dark without her.

Perhaps for some she might represent a sort of a goddess character, but the lady in the radiator is a very strange looking woman for sure, has a skin problems that she's trying to cover up with pancake makeup and it's a bad problem.

Without it the story would have been very dark, and so she represented a beacon of hope for Henry.

Without her, the story would have been very dark, and be just about Henry doing the baby in and that would have been it.

Quote sources:
  1. See: Interview conversation about lady in the radiator. (
  2. Interviewer: You said before that the Lady In The Radiator was not in the original scriptDavid Lynch: Right
    Interviewer: Where where does she come from
    David Lynch:Well, Henry, to me the lady in the radiator, is erm, sort of a beacon of light and Henry's world, would be, uh, was really dark, you know, without her and he, she, is , ah, represents you know, some, some hope there for old Henry, and she came along, you know, right in the middle of the shooting and the weirdest part about it is, that like so many things, it just fell in just so perfectly, because, um, we'd already shot scenes of the radiator, Henry looking at the radiator, and it just, it was a natural, and even in the radiator there was, it was a certain kind of radiator that had a little compartment in there, and most radiators don't have that, it just, I don't know what kind of radiator it was, but there it was and it was a perfect little place for her, you know, to be. (
  3. Search & Destroy: The woman in the radiator, was she supposed to look like a lion?
    David Lynch: (laughs) No, she´s not.
    Search & Destroy: Sort of like a goddess?
    David Lynch: Well, in a way.... the lady in the radiator wasn´t event there in the original script of ERASERHEAD. One day, I was sitting in a room where we weren´t shooting and I got this idea and I RAN in there to the radiator, and it was the kind that had this weird little box in there. We´d already shot a lot of the film, some with Henry even looking there, and we didn´t have to change anything. It was the weirdest thing, like she was already there but we didn´t know it! She, to me, represents the GOODNESS in Henry's life and all that, but she´s a very strange looking woman for sure. She´s got skin problems that she´s trying to cover up with pancake makeup. A bad problem....
    (Search & Destroy No.9, 1978)
  4. Filmmaking is often described as a series of “happy accidents.” What was the happiest happy accident of the production of Eraserhead?
    I’ve never heard cinema described that way, but I describe much of the artistic process as happy accidents. It can be so beautiful to bring ideas springing forward. I just say you should stay on your toes and be aware of everything all the way through the process. Even if you already have a script, things can happen that open up to new ideas that you’ll just be so thankful for. On Eraserhead, in the beginning, there was no Lady in the Radiator. The Lady in the Radiator came along first as a drawing, and then she got born more and more, maybe after five or six months of shooting.
    Was it during the making of Eraserhead that you discovered transcendental meditation?
    Yes. I started meditating about a year, maybe a little less than a year after we started shooting. And in fact, that could be when the Lady in the Radiator got born.(

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