Mary Sweeney

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For the home economics professional, see Mary E. Sweeney.
Mary Sweeney
Born (1953-01-01) January 1, 1953 (age 62)
Madison, Wisconsin
Years active 1983–present
Spouse(s) David Lynch (2006)
Awards Best Editing
2001 Mulholland Drive

Mary Sweeney (born January 1, 1953) is an American film editor and producer best known for collaborating with the avant-garde American film director, David Lynch. Sweeney worked with Lynch on several critically acclaimed films and television series, most notably as a film editor on the cult hits Twin Peaks, Lost Highway (1997), and Mulholland Drive (2001) for Lynch's Asymmetrical Productions company.[1] She was the co-author, with John Roach, of The Straight Story (1999).

Sweeney was for many years a domestic partner with David Lynch. The couple married in 2006 but filed for divorce one month later, citing irreconcilable differences.[2] Together the couple has one son, Riley Sweeney Lynch, born in 1992.

A long-time Hollywood resident, Sweeney is head of The Sullivan Canyon Riders Club, a Los Angeles-based equestrian club. The club has worked to prevent land used by equestrians from being sold to developers, an effort that was supported financially by well-known film director Steven Spielberg and actress Kate Capshaw.[3]


Sweeney began her career as an assistant editor for film editor Duwayne Dunham on such films as Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart, and the television series Twin Peaks. She soon became director David Lynch's first choice as film editor. As their working and off-screen relationships developed, Lynch promoted Sweeney to producer (she was responsible for handling the post-production end of each show).[4]

In 1994, Sweeney read an article in the New York Times about an old man who drove a tractor cross-country just to see his ailing brother. The article piqued Sweeney's interest, and for four years she sought to the film rights to the story.[4] Sweeney retraced the journey of the tractor owner, Alvin Straight. Along the way she met several of the same people whom Straight had met, which helped her and her co-author John Roach draft their screenplay. When Sweeney broached the idea of making a movie based on Straight's journey to her partner David Lynch, he was initially uninterested in the project, but after he read the script, he changed his mind. Lynch decided to direct the film, which would be his "straightest" narrative film to date.

Sweeney made her feature film directorial debut in 2009 with the film Baraboo, which she also wrote. The film follows several people living in a motel in a Midwestern town and shows how they interact with each other.


  • "There is a natural crossover between producing and editing, particularly on David's projects because I am aware of and involved with them from the very beginning. We have a line producer who comes on for the duration of the shoot, and then I take over as producer. Very often, particularly in independent films, the editor ends up doing all the producing work in post-production because there is nobody else to do it. I like having that kind of control in post-production. I am involved with a film from inception all the way to distribution."[4]
  • "As we get closer to the end, he'll [David Lynch] actually sit with me during editing when he wants to work on something specific, but he gets too antsy for the most part and it's often much easier for me to edit without someone watching over my shoulder."[4]

Selected filmography[edit]

As film editor[edit]

As assistant editor[edit]

As producer[edit]

As writer[edit]

As director[edit]

  • Baraboo (2009)

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ "The City of Absurdity: Lost Highway Interviews and Articles"
  2. ^ "Lynch Files for Divorce" IMDB News 14 June 2006 (WENN)
  3. ^ "Spielberg Donates $12 Million to Horsies" – July 11, 2002 (WENN) IMDB news
  4. ^ a b c d "Interview with Mary Sweeney, Editor, 'The Straight Story'" By Elina Shatkin, EditorsNet, October 14, 1999 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "EditorsNet" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).

External links[edit]