At this point, there is no way Paul Schrader’s The Canyons can possibly live up to half of the hype it’s gotten. As if Bret Easton Ellis, Lindsay Lohan and adult film star James Deen’s names weren’t each a reason to readily expect this film to be a guilty pleasure, it got snubbed by Sundance to only recently find a home with IFC Films, and a lengthy N.Y. Times article by Stephen Rodrick threw the entire production beneath a bus of miscommunications and bloated egos.
And now porn maven James Deen disrobes his side of the story to The Daily Beast, and due to a combination of Deen’s innocent naivety in the standard filmmaking industry, his pointedly childlike manner of stating facts over crafting a story, and his overtly non-partisan manner of opining negatively, this is just as good a read as Rodrick’s piece for all the wrong reasons. His words are nearly inspirational and completely lack the juiciness of major gossip, although he does call James Franco “a dick” for not inviting him to a party celebrating a project Deen was involved with.
Right away, he says he isn’t a writer, but “this is the first time I have been asked to write a first-person piece about the experience” instead of being interviewed ad nauseum. He speaks kindly of Ellis and producer Braxton Pope, sharing their vision to make a movie for themselves, instead of for profit or for audiences’ enjoyment. While not initially into acting in a non-porn film, he was won over, but soon found he had to win over everyone else, most of whom would not take an adult film star seriously. If you can imagine, Paul Schrader was not the first person to readily see Deen on the same level as anyone else.
Paul was no better once the movie started. There was a time during filming when the cameraman, Brian Taylor, was standing on a bed to film a shot of Lindsay Lohan and me sleeping together. Paul joked, “Hey, Brian, if this doesn’t work out maybe you can get James to hire you for one of his movies.” Brian very respectfully giggled. My response was a simple, “Yeah, and I’ll pay you better too.” With that the room filled with laughter, and the old man who mocked adult cinema slunk away.
But he goes on to say that Schrader “is a genius” and that while he didn’t feel he was respected as a person, Deen thought that Schrader at least respected his acting, which goes a long way.
“This brings us to Ms. Lindsay Lohan. I want to write nothing. I am sick of discussing Lindsay.” But of course, he talks about her, and perhaps surprisingly (but perhaps not), he has only kind words to say. Besides being grateful that her star presence allowed him to exist as a co-star, he says, “I think Lindsay is amazing, and I don’t have a single negative thing to say about her. She added a level of exposure to this movie that my name alone could never have created.”
He still hasn’t seen the flick, and he offers no opinions of any aspects of the film or directly about the filming process itself. It probably has more to do with secrecy than anything else, but a little brevity for any sake is still nice sometimes.
Check out an interview with Deen here, though he talks about porn acting and not Canyons acting.