I'm a little ambivalent about my five favorite films -- or talking to you about them -- because they are so boring.
It is not impossible. It is so typical. Also, by the way, it changes constantly. Not changes constantly but, depending on the mood I'm in, I could shift two or three out and then decide to sneak one in there that might not normally be there, know what I mean? And so I looked at some of your other ones and saw what people chose and, you know, I really hate to be defined by those five that I chose [right now], talking to Rotten Tomatoes or whatever. How do you do it? Do you just like... Somebody says, "OK, this is number five," and then you talk about it?
Yeah, pretty much. I think some readers think, "Oh, you tell them to pick a comedy, right?" No, absolutely not. I'm not going to tell somebody what their favorite movies are.
Yeah, but if I have, like Vertigo, or Citizen Kane, or Godfather 1 and 2, which is one movie for me... You see where I'm going? It's kind of dull. I'll probably put Barry Lyndon and I'll probably put... maybe Carrie. I dunno. So how do you want to start this?
Well, what do you like about Vertigo?
Oh good, you're gonna lead me on this. Good. You know what I love about Vertigo? I love that it's a movie about movies. That's what's so fascinating about Vertigo. And it's also the most crushing movie ever made about romantic obsession, and how we constantly relive our obsessions over and over and we're hopeless in the face of them. Also, just what it does with color, how it's a movie about watching things. I do think it's Hitchcock's greatest achievement, [followed by] Psycho and The Birds. And I might put The Birds ahead of Psycho, in terms of how that movie ages. It's so painterly, so beautiful. But, you know, I think Vertigo is the kind of movie really doesn't make that much sense on a first viewing. Like, you haven't really seen the movie until the second time. I also think that, if you're young... I'm a big moviegoer and I did not get Vertigo at 18. It didn't mean anything to me. And then I saw it [again, and] it must have been the 1990s when they did the proper revival of it. I think in 1983 Universal released something that wasn't color-corrected or something; it didn't look like how it should look. When I saw it in my 30s, after I'd been through various disappointments and love and romance, then it hit me like a ton of bricks. It just became this overwhelming experience. This hypnotic, overwhelming experience. You bring your experience to Vertigo. You don't have to do that with Citizen Kane, but with Vertigo, you do.
There are some similarities between Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo and James Deen in The Canyons in that they both have controlling personalities. The difference seems to be that Jimmy Stewart has a certain decency, and James Deen is a sociopath.
OK, so this is the difference between the conception of Jimmy Stewart's character and the conception of Christian in The Canyons. I think by the very nature of Vertigo, you need Jimmy Stewart. And you need somebody who can play that character in all of his desperation. Christian is conceived as very cold very controlling, a douchebag, yes, and ultimately malevolent.I wrote the part for James Deen. I'd seen his work. I'd seen the porn work and I'd seen the non-porn work, within the porn work, and he had something that I found very unsettling. He had a kid of goofy boy-next-door quality, and then in the BDSM scenes, some of the rougher porn scenes, there was this kind of very dark guy that seemed to emerge. And I found it fascinating. Also, I just love stuff like his eyes. He can really shut them down in a way, and they can be very cold and icy blue. I didn't want an actor for that role, I wanted someone who wasn't an actor, who hadn't been trained, because all the actors that we saw in the auditions really overdid the douchiness, overdid the malevolence, and brought the wrong tonal thing to that character. James played it without any of those constraints that I thought an actor would bring to it. That's kind of the difference.