david cronenberg

It’s no secret Bret Easton Ellis isn’t a big fan of the movie American Psycho. The author considers the satire a perfectly fine film, but as an adaptation of his own work, he finds it deeply flawed. For many reasons, Ellis considered the book unable to be adapted.

Mary Harron‘s film has gained a considerable following since its theatrical release, but as any fan of American Psycho knows, she wasn’t the only director ever involved in the project. Below, Ellis discusses the script he once wrote for David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers), which the director wasn’t particularly fond of.

Plenty of major talent flirted with making American Psycho. At one point, Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to play Patrick Bateman, and he was interested in Oliver Stone directing the adaptation. Years before Christian Bale had to fight for the role, Brad Pitt was set to star in the film, in a version that was going to be directed by Cronenberg.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ellis reflected on this little piece of American Psycho trivia:

[I wrote the script] in the early Nineties with a young actor attached named Brad Pitt. David was lovely – is lovely, I still like David ­– but he had strange demands. He hated shooting restaurant scenes, and he hated shooting nightclub scenes. And he didn’t want to shoot the violence. I ignored everything he said. So of course he was disappointed with it and he hired his own writer; that script was worse for him and he dropped out. I did another pass on the script for Rob Weiss in 1995. That didn’t work out either. And then it was Mary Harron and Oliver Stone and again Mary Harron, who made the film, and the draft that Mary wrote with Guinevere Turner had a lot of similarities to the drafts I did for Cronenberg and Weiss. That really was what you could take from the book.

Cronenberg, at the time, said he found scenes set at restaurants “static” and “boring.” Another one of the director’s demands came down to the length of the script:

He said, “I don’t want to shoot in restaurants and clubs, and I want the script to be about 65 to 70 pages long, because it takes me about two minutes to shoot a page. I don’t do a minute a page, I do two minutes a page.”

That draft of the script actually ended with a musical number. Ellis departed quite a bit from his own novel, since he was “bored with the book.” The author had been living with that story for years; he didn’t want to just tell the same story again. While Ellis still isn’t very fond of Harron’s adaptation, at least he has the potential remake to look forward to.

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