With the film finding a home last week with IFC Films, you might think the stories around the making of "The Canyons" — which have included a highly quotable New York Times Magazine profile, and news of its rejection from both Sundance and SXSW — might be put to rest. But it seems there is still much more talk about, and after so much drama surrounding Lindsay Lohan's onset behaviour, her co-star and adult film actor James Deen has weighed in with this own observations about working on the movie. And it seems that for him, Schrader was more of a hassle to deal with than Lohan.
Writing for The Daily Beast, Deen admits that he didn't initially know who Schrader actually was until he Googled his name, and realized that he was familiar with many of his projects. But this unfamiliarity with Schrader's work was perceived to be a potential problem. "When I told [producer] Braxton [Pope] this, I could see it was going to be an issue. He then explained our director’s personality type. Paul has an ego. He was described to me as a hyperintelligent creative genius with various issues," he writes. "In my previous experiences, the director is a person who has a vision and communicates that vision to everyone in order to create the art. Their primary concern is the piece and the integrity of it. You shut your mouth and do what they say regardless of if you disagree. With this in mind, I was not concerned about dealing with the director, egotistical or not. Braxton, however, seemed worried about me not wanting to feed Paul’s ego."
And indeed, Schrader had reservations that went beyond his ego. "…he was worried about casting an adult actor in his movie. His concern was that no one would take the movie seriously. Paul’s wife, I am told, hates porn, hates sex, hates sexuality, hates 'The Canyons'—hates, hates, hates," Deen shares. "Paul told her he was not sure whom to cast. He put her in a room with two videos he made on his iPhone, one of me and one of some other guy they were talking to. Paul’s wife watched the two videos and told Paul to give me the role because I was better. Paul figured that if I could win her over, then everyone else in the world would be no problem. Like that, the part was mine."
But ultimately, as Deen worked on the movie, it became clear that the professional respect he showed for Schrader — of whom he says "Love him or hate him, Paul is a genius" — it was not reciprocated. "Through the whole the film, there was not one moment where I felt he respected me as a person. I did, however, feel as if he respected my acting abilities," Deen states, adding: "Paul and his wife were not the only ones who thought of me as a party trick. Other than Braxton, [screenwriter] Bret [Easton Ellis], and in time, the crew of 'The Canyons,' everyone I met and worked with saw me as a joke."
All that said, Deen still stands by the filmmaker and hopes he helped him achieves his goal: "He was my director, and I will follow him to the ends of the earth. I hope my performance was of the caliber he desired and that I did not let my director down."
But speaking of respect, let's take a brief aside for a moment. Deen also quickly relates crashing a party held for James Franco
's art piece "Rebel Dabble Babble
" about the other James Dean
, in which the XXX actor also participated (read what it's all about right here
). "After my first meeting with Paul, he mentioned he was going to a James Franco party for an art piece he commissioned called 'Rebel Dabble Babble.' 'I’m in that!' I told him. I ended up crashing the party with Bret, but that’s another story," Deen wrote. "My not receiving an invite to a party to celebrate a project I was part of is the point. One, Franco is a dick. Two, I would be fighting an uphill battle [to get respect]."
And as for Lohan? Don't expect Deen to jump on the train of those bringing her down. "I only know I didn’t feel like she thought I was a joke. She made me feel good when I was around her," Deen explains, adding: "In adult scenes, I consider myself a prop. I am there to accentuate the star’s brightness. Actors are all really only props anyway. Now I was no longer the star. I was the accent to Lindsay…I think Lindsay is amazing, and I don’t have a single negative thing to say about her."
Meanwhile, Schrader has responded to Deen's lengthy piece of the making of the movie on Facebook
: "For my part, he seems to be playing his violin a little loud. I would not cast an actor as the lead in a film I was co-financing unless I had absolute faith in his ability to pull it off. It took me a while to get to that place of trust (casting is destiny), but once I got there I never regretted choosing him. I took him seriously and he took his work seriously. James was the glue which held the production together."
We'll see the final results of this collaboration this summer when "The Canyons" arrives on VOD and in theaters.