Exclusive Interview: James Deen on The Canyons

“I have a tendency to ramble,” James Deen said when he picked up the phone. That turned out to be true. The prolific pornographic film actor and star of Paul Schrader’s The Canyons, written by American Psycho‘s Bret Easton Ellis, is not one of those celebrities who keeps frustratingly mum while doing publicity. If anything, he’s disarmingly direct and honest about the New York Times article that claimed he left the set to film porn (not, strictly speaking, accurate according to Deen), his opinions about Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, and why he would like to star in the movie version of 50 Shades of Grey, but probably wouldn’t be allowed to. All this, which scene he did in The Canyons while being electrocuted. (It was an accident, calm down.)


CraveOnline: According to the always reliable IAFD.com, you’ve been in 1,464 adult movies since you started in the industry. Where did you find time to be in The Canyons?

James Deen: Well, that’s inaccurate, actually. I’ve been in close to 4,000. It’s a matter of how you categorize a movie. No, I’m just joking. [Laughs] There are scenes versus movies. I don’t know what’s categorized, how they actually figured out that number and stuff but I’ve done probably about 4,000 scenes, something around there. Some of those are in the same movie. Some of them are on the internet so they don’t make it into the IAFD or whatever. So, yeah. I’m not actually insulted by that, I’m just saying it’s actually a lot more. [Laughs]


Fair enough. You did the work, you should be credited for it.

The beauty of my job is, as an independent contractor, I have the ability to not necessarily do whatever I want… but if I was a roofer and I wanted to go on vacation, I could just not be available for a week and a half. So, The Canyons was, and this was one of the issues with The Canyons, if you remember in that New York Times piece and many other places, it says how I left the set to go shoot porn. What actually happened was I talked to them and it was before Lindsay was signed on so they gave me the days because I book about a month or so in advance. So, we talked and they gave me the days, I booked out the days they wanted, and I intended to be nothing but theirs from the first day of rehearsal until my last day of shooting. It was going to be nothing but Canyons. It was going to be about 15 to 20 days of shooting, so I gave it all to them and I booked other work around it.

Then what happened is Lindsay [Lohan] got signed on and obviously… she is well deserving of priority. I’m not complaining. She absolutely deserves it. So, they changed the schedule around to make sure Lindsay got all her shoot days done first so my days changed from the first two weeks to the first week, the third week and a little in the fourth week. So what happened was, they come and they tell me, “Okay, here’s the new schedule,” and I was like, “Well, this is the problem, I already have work booked and I can’t just cancel on work.” They went, “Well, you said you were going to give us 100% of your time and you’re devoted to the movie.” I said, “Well, I am but I also have a regular job and I took off time to do this movie, then I booked work around it. So I’m completely free from July 3rd to, I think it was like, July 19th or 20th. I’m completely free from that time that you told me. In all the e-mails that I have, that out of all the days that you told me to hold, they’re all free. Every single one of those is free but every other day after that date, I booked work.”

So I got out of some of it. Some of it, I couldn’t get out of because I’m not the type that would just cancel on people. And also, these are people that I work with regularly and I didn’t want to be like, “Hey, I know that I’ve worked with you for the last eight, nine years but something came up and so I gotta go.” So, some of the work I couldn’t get out of and I explained it to the producer. They all knew and they all understood and so they basically like… I think it was only a shock to Paul [Schrader]. I think he was the only one who wasn’t told about the fact that on certain days, I’m just not available. But pretty much the way I was able to do it was I just took the time off work. I was basically told in advance, “These are the days we’re not using you,” and I just didn’t book work those days. I booked The Canyons, instead. Then because of schedule issues and independent film and all the things that happened, it got a little messy but we made it happen and because I am able to control my own schedule, there were days I was able to cancel and days that I wasn’t.


Do you remember what movies you scheduled around The Canyons, specifically, or what scenes? So if people were curious…?

Well, my regular work roster runs the gamut. I mean, I do everything from crazy, BDSM like, super rough stuff to really vanilla, artsy stuff. You know, really soft. It gets very pretty. Digital Playground, which is high-end features, stuff like that and everything in between. So, I do it all and pretty much what happened was I just kind of booked my regular work until July 3rd and I was off, then I just kept the time free and then I booked my regular work on let’s say, the 20th or something, or the 17th, whatever day it was. So, I had everything arranged from all over… 


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