411mania Interviews: The Canyons’ James Deen
James Deen has been a busy man in the headlines recently. The latest adult industry star to crossover to the mainstream, Deen jumped right into the spotlight co-starring with Lindsay Lohan in Paul Schrader’s film The Canyons, written by Bret Easton Ellis. Much has been said about his work with the actress but Deen has put Hollywood on notice. Recently rumors of him being cast in the much talked about 50 Shades of Grey have made the rounds, and his fans couldn’t be happier. He also is producing an intriguing project, Cowboys & Engines, using Kickstarter to garner attention and support.
Deen entered the adult film industry in 2004 at the age of 18 and quickly made an impact. In February of 2012, ABC Nightline aired the feature “Porn’s Boy Next Door”, which included interviews with both Deen and his fans. One fan describing him as the Ryan Gosling of porn. I was grateful to capture a few minutes of his time to talk about The Canyons, the Lohan controversary, Cowboys & Engines, and what’s next for this crossover star?
Steve Gustafson: James, thanks for taking some time and talking with 411mania.com about The Canyons and some other projects you’re involved with. I have to tell you something funny. While I was preparing the questions for your interview, I popped over to your Twitter the first thing I read is your tweet saying, “I am completely over talking about lindsay lohan. I am officially getting off the coat tails. This topic now bores me” I threw out my notes and started over! I can imagine the frustration of being asked the same question over and over. So I’ll ask a very general: how was working on the set of The Canyons?
James Deen: Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to mess up your interview. My issue with it is that even though I have said the exact same things in every single interview, it seems that the only way people can put a new spin on the story is by making it look like I am “lashing out” or “throwing her under the bus.” I don’t want to have any part in that kind of behavior, so I rather not participate in any of it at all. Anyways, back to your question. Working on the set of The Canyons was an exciting experience. I was honored to be involved, and I can not wait to see the film.
Steve Gustafson: Totallly understandable and no apology needed. The media is always looking for that angle, anyway they can spin it. Let’s back up and talk about the casting. I read that they wanted to cast somebody “more edgy and unexpected” and Bret Easton Ellis (Writer) wrote the role with you in mind. There was some reluctance from Paul Schrader (Director) at first because of your adult film career but was won over by your acting abilities and charisma. Can you talk about the casting process from your point-of-view?
James Deen: Sure. I was supposed to meet Paul Schrader when he came to Los Angeles. This kept getting delayed. Bret and Braxton both really wanted me for the role, so I made a Head and Shoulders video and Braxton emailed it to Paul. When he finally did come out, we met and read through parts of the script. He was still a little nervous about me playing the role, but when his wife, who is very anti-sex, saw my video she said I was best for the part. His thoughts, as far as they have been explained to me, were that if I could win her over, I could win anyone over.
Steve Gustafson: Wow. That “Deen” charm wins them over! Talking about the movie, The Canyons is described as an “erotic thriller neo-noir film”. How would you describe your character, Christian? How did you prepare to play him?
James Deen: He is an emotionally damaged control freak. I don’t know what i really did…I just kind of played pretend and tried to build a character. It was fun.
Steve Gustafson: Nice. How was it working with Paul Schrader? What did you learn from him?
James Deen: It was a honor to work with someone as iconic as Paul. I don’t know what I learned from him. I don’t think I learned anything from him. He directed and I acted. We didn’t really have a mentor/protege type thing going.
Steve Gustafson: Fair enough. I’m curious. What are some of the similarities and difference between an adult film set and a “mainstream” movie set? Besides the obvious. Can Hollywood learn a few things from the porn world?
James Deen: It is exactly the same. The only difference would be the sex. I think Hollywood could learn how to use their budgets more efficiently. In adult we are trying to make movies of comparable quality but on 25K instead of 10 million. That is why porn looks so cheesy. We don’t have the budget to make it look all fancy, but it is shot exactly the same. The Canyons was made on a super small budget, and I think they did an excellent job of utilizing it correctly. It was done as efficiently as a porno. I consider this a very high compliment to The Canyons.
Steve Gustafson: Absolutely. Will you be exploring more roles in Hollywood or just see what comes your way? Any particular dream roles out there
James Deen: I would like to attach myself to projects that I believe in and can stand behind. I wouldn’t mind actively going out and trying to get a role, but I don’t know what that would be. I like hearing the 50 Shades of Grey rumors…That would be cool.
Steve Gustafson: I’ve been reading those same rumors and you would be an ideal candidate. OK, let’s switch gears to your adult film work! You’ve been busy. You won Crossover Star of the Year and Male Performer of the Year from both AVN and XBIZ. What do those wins mean to you?
James Deen: It is a high honor. It feels very good to be appreciated and comended by your peers for your accomplishments in doing what you love.
Steve Gustafson: Right. And you’ve been on a strong run for a while now so they were much deserved. What projects do you have coming up that we should be looking for?
James Deen: I am producing a movie called Cowboys & Engines. You can find it on KickStarter right now. I hope we can raise the funds and make it happen because I am super excited for it. Go to Kickstarter
Steve Gustafson: We’ll come back to that in a second but I just had a “What if?” question. Which Hollywood celebrity would you like to see crossover to porn?
James Deen: I don’t know… ummmm… Betty White?
Steve Gustafson: You just blew my mind. And moving on. You were a prominent voice speaking out about Los Angeles County Measure B. Where do things stand currently?
James Deen: The measure violates First Amendment rights. It is being fought in court. It is impossible to win a vote especially when it is posed as “safer sex.” Safe sex is important and absolutely should be promoted. I am amazed it was as close as it was. However, this measure does not make sex safer. It violates my rights as an American to create the type of content I believe in.
Steve Gustafson: I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about that in the news in the near future. Let’s transition to a really interesting project that you’re involved in and mentioned: Cowboys & Engines. It’s described as an epic western steampunk adventure starring The Totally Rad Show’s Jeff Cannata and Star Trek’s Walter Koenig. How did you get involved with producing it?
James Deen: I was presented the script. I agreed that I didn’t fit any of the roles correctly. I could have played Cade Ballard but I am too young. It would have been “making it work.” I always loved producing. I like to be the guy to make it all happen and that is what producing is, so I jumped at the opportunity to sign on as a producer.
Steve Gustafson: It looks like it could catch on big. You have a lot on your plate, Mr. Deen! Where can fans keep up with your exploits?
James Deen: jamesdeenblog.com, jamesdeenstore.com, twitter.com/jamesdeen, I think i have a Facebook page too, but I don’t manage that one so who cares?
Steve Gustafson: Awesome. And last, how was working with Lindsay Lohan?
James Deen: …
Steve Gustafson: Kidding! Thanks again for your time James and all the best!
Photo courtesy of JamesDeen.com