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James Deen Calls James Franco "A Dick," Says Paul Schrader Didn't Respect Him On 'The Canyons'

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by Kevin Jagernauth
February 19, 2013 6:06 PM
11 Comments
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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.
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11 Comments

  • Nemo | July 15, 2013 3:00 AMReply

    You don't know either of these two. Just going by one mans interpretation and drawing up a conclusion. Way to be controlled.

    Sounds like you would've hated Franco no matter who had a problem him.

  • Severine | February 20, 2013 11:37 AMReply

    James Deen seems like a truly nice guy while Franco is an annoying dbag.

  • Glass | February 20, 2013 10:03 AMReply

    Thank God someone finally came out and publicly called James Franco a dick. I love him as Aron Ralston, but he's a true dbag and totally overrated.

  • serpico | February 20, 2013 8:35 AMReply

    The only way that this movie can gain any hype or support is through controversey. Pathetic.

  • hitandmiss | February 20, 2013 4:24 AMReply

    James Deen's gang-rape torture hate themed library at kinkdotcom as well as the rape comments on his twitter make it difficult to support, financially back, listen and/or certainly respect this guy. His mantra is "I don't give a f**k" (i.e. I'm a baby panda and I do what I want) and I'm sure it came across loud and clear to all those working on "The Canyons".

  • BEF | February 19, 2013 10:17 PMReply

    This mostly reads like his preconceived worry of jumping from porn to acting and not getting respect. It was already in his head so he was probably looking for it. The way he describes previous directors trying to achieve their art ... you're probably not going to be told to do emotion, or look a certain way in porn, so he probably took direction he's not used to as being disrespect. That being said, all that is heightened with someone if the people they're around aren't warm. I can't see Paul Schrader as being a warm guy. They probably got along fine, except Deen was very worried about how people saw his acting, he's going to be highly scrutinized for his performance making that jump just because, y'know "acting" and "porn" are pejorative when put together. It's telling that his first response about Lohan was that, she didn't disrespect him. Obviously, respect is the top of his list of what he's looking for. Sometimes it's hard to see.

  • Jesse | February 19, 2013 7:27 PMReply

    Come on, guys. Paul Shrader's a hack and always has been.
    Why do people speak of him like he should be respected? Yeah, I get it, he wrote some great stuff 30 years ago but go and see anything he's directed. Anything. Even Mishima was a steaming pile.

  • Mishima | February 20, 2013 10:39 AM

    You're so wrong about Mishima I don't even know where to begin. If you're going to cite a bad Schrader film, at least pick something like Dominion. And yeah, you know what? He only wrote one of the most influential screenplays of the last 40 years. What's so respectable about that? *eyeroll*

  • Stephen B | February 19, 2013 8:52 PM

    Affliction, Blue Collar, Hardcore, Auto Focus are all great. I won't argue that he hasn't done a lot of questionable work or fallen off in the past decade, but that's not unusual for aging filmmakers.

  • d | February 19, 2013 7:32 PM

    Whatever you think of him, he's not a hack. But you should check out AFFLICTION if you haven't.

  • Alan B | February 19, 2013 7:25 PMReply

    Deen is a little baffling: didn't he realize that - as an adult film star - that he would have to fight preconceptions? Reading The New York Times piece, it was obvious to me that Schrader respected him as a collaborator and someone who was reliable when Lohan messed up. So, I am surprised he is whining now ...

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