Following a scandalous exposé of Lohan’s outrageous behavior during the making of Paul Schrader’s fil The Canyons, her costar, porn legend James Deen, tells Marlow Stern what it’s really like working with LiLo—four-way sex scenes and all.
What’s your take on the much-ballyhooed New York Times Magazine profile of the making of The Canyons?
I actually just ran into the writer [Stephen Rodrick], and he fully agreed with my description. I describe it as, “Accurate events reflected in the mirror and then retold for dramatic effect.” There’s a portion in it where he says I’m lonely because I didn’t have any friends visit me on set. But I just feel it’s unprofessional to invite your friends to “the office.” If I’m working at McDonald’s, I don’t invite my friends over to watch me flip burgers. But that’s a good example of the entire article. It’s an accurate depiction of the events that occurred, but told in a way to make the story more compelling.
The crux of the piece was your costar in the film Lindsay Lohan’s outrageous behavior on set. What was it honestly like working with her?
I thought the whole experience was really fantastic. Right now, there’s audio circulating on TMZ of her cursing me out on set. That came out the day after the Times article came out painting her as unprofessional, and I think [the audio] was released by her camp to try and make her look good. Two hours before that, I told her I was doing this film for my own self-gratification—as something exciting and new—and I think she took it the wrong way, as an affront to her profession and as I was just there to hang out. But that whole situation was defused by her taking a time-out and me talking to her and explaining what I meant.
But it seemed, both in the audio clip and in the story, like Lindsay was undermining Schrader by attempting to “direct” various scenes.
She has a unique way of communicating. She’s a child star who’s been living in this fame world being chased by paparazzi. I tried to consider that in every interaction with her, so when she speaks, what could be construed as an insult by some was not necessarily intended to be an insult. It was just her communicating her interpretation of the scene.
The writer describes one incident during filming where you and Paul got so frustrated at Lindsay that you began yelling at each other because you couldn’t yell at her.
That was actually very comedic. We were filming the final scene, and there’s a lot of shit happening. Lindsay was just like, “This is how I’m doing it,” and Paul wasn’t going along and was very frustrated that we were losing light ... And Lindsay was being Lindsay. He knew he couldn’t yell at her, so he just yelled, “JAMES FUCKING DEEN!” And then I yelled back, “PAUL FUCKING SCHRADER! FUCK YOU!” And then we got into it. Then we both went outside and were yelling at each other, but what we were really yelling was, “WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE MOVIE SO FAR?” “I THINK IT’S REALLY GOOD!” “I’M REALLY IMPRESSED WITH YOUR DIRECTING STYLE!” “YOU’RE DOING AN AMAZING JOB AS AN ACTOR!” We were just screaming compliments at each other. And he ended the conversation with, “Here’s your motivation for the scene: after you do this, you’ll never have to work with her again.” Lindsay has a rare communication style, and not everyone gets it.
How would you describe this “rare communication style” to the uninitiated?
People treat actors like these fragile, delicate creatures, and you’ve got to remember that for the past 10 years, Lindsay could not go to Starbucks. She was raised in the Hollywood system, so she’s used to a certain level of treatment. Instead of saying, “Excuse me, could you please pass me the water?” She’s used to saying, “I need water,” and then someone just giving her water. She’s been conditioned to say what she needs and then someone will bring it to her, so I can see why people would consider her to be a train wreck or a bitch or whatever, but her intentions are fine.
There seemed to be quite a bit of friction between Schrader and Lindsay on set. The writer describes one incident where Schrader, while acting out a scene, “body-slammed” Lindsay to the ground.
The scene was a fight scene between me and Lindsay, and the crew wanted it to be faked for insurance purposes, but Lindsay wanted it to be real and to feel the pain. She said, “No, it’s fine! I get bruised and hit all the time!” So I was going half-speed during rehearsals, but Lindsay likes to go all-out, so Paul was just acting it out, and she was like, “Cool! Now I can feel it and act it out.”
One of the big incidents in the story was when Lindsay locked herself in a closet and refused to disrobe prior to shooting the four-way sex scene.
Lindsay needs to be the star. So the female was in the adult-film world, and the other male was just some model guy. I’m very comfortable naked, the other girl was very comfortable naked, and I wanted everyone to be as comfortable as possible to get the scene done correctly. The crew got comfortable, the girl did, and then the other male did, and it wasn’t a big deal. This I believe made Lindsay less comfortable, because she’s never done a sex scene, so to her, this was a big deal that she was showing her boobs and simulating sex, and seeing everyone so relaxed, she felt like she needed to throw some drama in there and bring attention back to her.
In the story, the writer says you made her uncomfortable—or rather, the prospect of shooting this sex scene with you.
I can’t speak for her, but we were all hanging out, joking around, and it was the three of us naked in bed—and Lindsay was half naked—and then she all of a sudden was like, “Could you guys put your clothes back on? I’m feeling really uncomfortable.” And then we were like, “Ugh, OK.” So we put our robes back on, but she was still lying on the bed topless, and we were like, “Well, what about you?” And she was like, “No! I can be naked, but you can’t be!” We were like, “All right ... Whatever you need.” She needed people to home in on the fact that this is a big deal to her—showing her boobs and doing a sex scene—and people should respect that fact. But, it was in her mind because everyone else on set was like, “We’ve seen you in Playboy, we’ve seen crotch shots all over the Internet, so this is nothing new,” but to her, it was something different. It was an escalating event where she tried to make it a big deal—no one cared—she tried to make it a bigger deal—no one cared—so then she just went around the corner of the room. She said, “When Julia Roberts does topless scenes, she makes the whole crew shoot in their boxers! I want that!” And the whole crew just rolled their eyes and was like, “We’re not doing that. We’ll do that for fuckin’ Julia Roberts, but not you. Go find another crew; we’ll just leave.”
And then Schrader got naked?
Schrader looked her dead in the eyes and said, “I’m not making my fucking crew do that, but you know what?” And then he stripped off all his clothes except for his socks, strutted across the room to the monitor, stood there, and just said, “ACTION!” And the cameras immediately started rolling, Lindsay jumped in the bed, and we nailed it in one 15-minute take.
What goes down in this four-way sex scene?
The whole dynamic between my character and Lindsay’s character, Christian and Tara, is that I’m this trust-fund kid who’s obsessed with power and control, and I manipulate everyone around me via money, sex, etc., so she’s always subservient to me, but this is the moment in the movie where you learn that she’s not just a prize to me and I do care about her and where she essentially wrestles some of the power back.
Have you seen the film yet?
I have not, ‘cause I don’t want to see it until the final cut is ready.
One of the things in the story that puzzled me the most is Schrader not taking Steven Soderbergh up on his offer to edit the film.
Yeah, I don’t get that at all. From hearing the story firsthand, Soderbergh said he was really interested in the project and wanted to be involved and said, “Let me edit some footage, and if you don’t like it, you can just throw it away.” So I think that was just Schrader and his ego or something. I don’t know.
Any other nonporn film projects in the pipeline?
I’m producing a movie called Cowboys & Engines, which is a sci-fi Western with a steam-punk twist. Very cool visual imagery and really exciting. It’s a short, so it has nothing but the good stuff. And the Kickstarter is live now.
Lastly, we’re in the midst of film awards season. What Oscar-bait movie do you think would make the best porn parody?
Well, the patriot in me says take the Bin Laden film [Zero Dark Thirty] and turn it into a gay porn in protest of 9/11. “You terrorize and kill thousands of innocent Americans? Well, we’ll do the most offensive thing possible to you. Take that! And ... there’s bacon in it!”