American Psycho Christian Bale

Willem Dafoe Had It Both Ways

Willem Dafoe in American Psycho
Willem Dafoe in American Psycho

Dafoe’s character, Detective Donald Kimbal, is investigating the murders that Patrick Bateman appears to have committed. Did he suspect Bateman? It depends.

American Psycho actress and co-writer Guinevere Turner told Moviemaker in 2020: “A cool thing that Mary told me relatively recently is that in the scene where the detective that Willem plays and Christian are having lunch at Smith & Wollensky’s — and it’s really tense, and Bateman’s sort of losing his mind — she directed Willem to do several takes where he was sure that Patrick had done it and then several takes where he absolutely didn’t think he’d done it. And then she intercut the two styles. That, I think, is genius.”

Dafoe loved it. He told MovieMaker:I remember her telling me to play it those different ways. And then she cut it together in a way that was ambiguous where she kind of had her cake and ate it too. … That lifted up the scene.”

No Encore

Christian Bale in American Psycho

Bret Easton Ellis revealed on a recent episode of his podcast that Bale was asked to appear in the 2002 Roger Avery film The Rules of Attraction, based on Ellis’ second novel. (Though American Psycho was Ellis’ third book, it was made into a film before his second.)

One of the characters in Rules of Attraction is Sean Bateman (played in the film by James Van Der Beek), who is Patrick Bateman’s brother. At one point, Avery planned for The Rules of Attraction to include a scene with Sean and Patrick Bateman together, with Bale reprising his American Psycho role. Lionsgate, which released both films, loved the idea.

“He asked Christian Bale to do it, Christian said no. Then he asked me to do it. I said absolutely not,” laughed Ellis. “And then he changed it to just a phone call between Patrick and the brother.”

Main image: Christian Bale in American Psycho. All photos courtesy of Lionsgate except for Oliver Stone photo.

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