Bret Easton Ellis on American Psycho, Christian Bale, and His Problem with Women Directors
What was that about?
I think Barry Manilow's "Daybreak" was playing, and there's like Patrick Bateman sitting in the park talking to people, and then it ends on the top of the World Trade Center. A big musical number, very elaborate. I'm glad it wasn't shot, but that kind of shows you where I was when I was writing the script. I was bored with the material.
Do you usually get bored with the books after you write them?
Not while I'm finishing them. After the book comes out, I am completely bored with the book.
Even though that's exactly the point at which you have to start talking about it to the press.
[Smiles] A problem! You get better at it as the year of promotion moves along. You get into a groove.
Anyway, Mary Harron eventually got involved with Christian Bale set to star, and then both of them briefly got thrown overboard when Oliver Stone and Leonardo DiCaprio expressed interest. Were you privy to any of that?
I was a bystander. I mean, it was terrible because I knew Mary and I'd met Christian, and yet, I also didn't think Leonardo DiCaprio was a bad idea. I said that a couple of times in interviews, and I'm sure it pissed Christian off and I'm sure Mary wasn't pleased to hear that.
So why did you say it?
Because I didn't really realize what was happening when I said it. I thought Mary was maybe going to direct the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. I mean, look. She probably made the right choice.
It's interesting that so many good-looking, almost feminine teen idol types wanted to play this role. Even Brad Pitt was involved at one point.
It's the kind of role that an actor wants. You have to be very pretty to play the role, and leading men are often very pretty and not allowed to show a lot of range. You're either put into this action movie role or the romantic lead role, and there are not a lot of projects offered to them that can invert that or twist it up a little bit. I think it was probably very appealing for an actor of a certain age to play crazy like that, and also look really nice. I don't know, it's the best of both worlds.
Gloria Steinem was among those protesting DiCaprio's involvement -- ironic, because she later became Christian Bale's stepmother.
Yeah. I love it. Though, I've always thought that the feminists got it totally wrong on that one. But I can't go there anymore.
When Christian Bale first asked to meet with you to get your approval for the role, he actually showed up at the restaurant in character. Did that freak you out?
That was in 1998, I think, when that happened. I didn't have an issue with Christian Bale doing that at the time, it was just seriously unnerving. You
know, even though the book had done well and it was a popular novel, I had not seen people acting like Patrick Bateman or trying to appear like him. There was actually a period there for four or five years after the movie was released where people would come up to me at book signings, and guys would show me [pictures of] their Halloween costumes, and it was them dressed as Patrick Bateman. All over the world, maybe a thousand times it happened. [The meeting with Bale] was before any of that happened, and I was unnerved that I was in a restaurant with someone pretending to be this monster that I created. I just wanted him to stop. I asked him to stop, and then he did, and it was fine, and then Mary Harron joined us, so it was more comfortable. But he was intense!