The Canyons is an erotic noir opening this summer about ambition and obsession, written by Bret Easton Ellis and starring Lindsay Lohan and porn’s boy-next-door James Deen. Usually quiet about his involvement in mainstream productions, Deen opened up to Lee Roy Myers and Seth Beard on a recent podcast on Woodrocket (episode 11) about his experience.
“I kind of auditioned,” Deen said. “I was offered the role and Paul Schrader [the director] wanted to verify I could act.”
Earlier this year, Deen had poked a little fun at Schrader when talking to the Hollywood Reporter, saying, “He has this classic version of Hollywood where ‘I’m gonna put you in a movie!’ It’s like, who cares? … I have more IMDb credits than you do, Schrader! I’ve been in more movies than fucking Al Pacino! Just because theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not the movies that you categorize as big Hollywood movies.”
The adult angle did worry the director somewhat, though it’s unlikely he didn’t recognize the publicity value in getting Deen on board.
“I assumed the reason why they were interested was because they were doing this super-low-budget thing.” said Deen. “They were like ‘hey, here’s this guy. He can act — or kinda act — and we can get him cheap! He’ll be happy to be in this movie and it will be a cool thing! It’ll be good for him, good for us and we can have a lot of free publicity because there’s a porn star in a movie and people will turn their heads and look at it. They might not buy it or be interested in it, but at least they’ll look at it.'”
Deen doesn’t mind. Unlike other adult stars, he isn’t hoping to one day transition from porn.
“[The Canyons] is my first foray into [mainstream film],” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “It was nothing I ever aspired to do or ever was like, ‘When I grow up, I want to be in real movies!’ When I grew up, I wanted to do adult films. […] I just kind of wanted to [meet] the guy who wrote American Psycho.”
He did meet Bret Easton Ellis — they grabbed a bite in Los Angeles and, according to Deen, went Dutch on the check.
“The budget of The Canyons was lower than some porn films I’ve been in,” Deen said. But Ellis was a joy to work with and the only person on the set whose opinion Deen trusted. At the end of the film, Deen says that the writer told him the film was nothing like what he had written, but that it was “awesome.”
And Lindsay Lohan? “She is not the type to stir the pot just to create drama,” Deen said, indicating the drama seemed to follow the star despite her disinterest in it. “She’s not the type to stage a picture just to get on TMZ.”
When asked how Lohan looked naked, Deen responded flatly: “Go see the movie.”