Fearsome Facts: 'American Psycho'
Abandon all hope ye who enter here!
Patrick Bateman is an iconic and complex character whose cinematic presence rivals the most memorable Silver Screen serial killers of all time. It is hard to talk about horror movie baddies who have impacted popular culture without mentioning Patrick in the same breath as Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter and Michael Myers. Indeed, Bateman is quite possibly the Darth Vader, or at least the Freddy Krueger of his generation particularly when it comes to characterizing yuppie greed, banality and apathy.
Christian Bale won the coveted role of Bateman – not to be confused with Batman – but the actor was hardly a household name in 2000. Indeed, Bale had been working steadily since his television movie debut in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna in 1986, but in the 14 years prior to American Psycho Bale’s most noteworthy role was arguably as Laurie in Little Women (1994).
But filmmaker Mary Harron fought for Bale to win the role of Bateman. And make no mistake, Harron’s persistence paid off. American Psycho owes much of its success to Bale’s quirky, impassioned, no-holds-barred approach to the material and the multifaceted character.
Harron knew what she was doing when she cast Bale in the lead role. Fast forward to today, and Bale is an Oscar winner (The Fighter). Bale gives an Academy Award worthy performance in American Psycho, and the movie is a must-see.
Now, here are 15 Things Fans Should Know About American Psycho.
15. Box Office Surprise
American Psycho made $15 million domestically which was more than double its $7 million budget. Even more impressive was the film’s foreign numbers: $19.2 million. As a result, the movie adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial novel cleaned up for Lionsgate with a worldwide take of over $34.2 million.
14. Ménage à Trois
To block the three-way between Patrick Bateman, Christie (Cara Seymour) and Sabrina (Krista Sutton), Mary Harron and Christian Bale viewed several X-rated movies. Harron even said Bale drew stick-figures to show what positions would work best in the sequence.
13. From Book to Silver Screen And Beyond
American Psycho began as a novel by author Bret Easton Ellis which was published in 1991. The film premiered on January 21, 2000 at the Sundance Film Festival, and it eventually spawned a very forgettable direct-to-video sequel American Psycho 2: All American Girl (2002) starring Mila Kunis and William Shatner.
In 2013, FX was shaping a television project which followed Pat Bateman as a 50-something serial killer, but it didn’t come to pass. In December of the that same year, American Psycho the musical opened in London with Matt Smith in the role. The Broadway version followed in 2016 with Benjamin Walker giving an unforgettably haunting and empathetic performance as Bateman.
12. It's Hip to Be Square
The most expensive part of the production fell on buying the rights to the numerous songs used in American Psycho which included New Order’s True Faith, Katrina and the Waves’ Walking on Sunshine, Robert Palmer’s Simply Irresistible and Phil Collin’s Sussudio among many, many more. Despite Patrick Bateman’s love of Whitney Houston’s music in the film, the singer was vehemently opposed to any of her work appearing in the movie.
11. Another Psycho Shower Scene
Norman Bates has nothing on Patrick Bateman at least when it comes to physique. During the DVD commentary for American Psycho, Mary Harron recalled how several female crew members gathered on set to watch cameras capture the opening shower scene where Patrick Bateman cleaned himself during his rigorous morning routine.
10. Navigating a Star
Willem Dafoe has a rather small part in American Psycho, and his character Detective Donald Kimball appears in a mere three scenes. Filmmaker Mary Harron had an interesting way of directing Dafoe in each of his appearances on film. Harron asked Dafoe to play his character’s suspicions of Patrick Bateman’s guilt differently each time. Dafoe portrays Kimble as knowing Bateman is guilty in one scene, knowing he is innocent in another and being unsure if Patrick killed Paul Allen (Jared Leto). Harron directed Dafoe in this manner so it gave audiences a sense of uncertainty.
9. David Cronenberg and Brad Pitt
American Psycho’s production went through a myriad of iterations. At one point, a television show starring Kevin Dillon of Entourage (2004-2011) fame was tossed around. Author Bret Easton Ellis himself reportedly wrote scripts for both David Cronenberg and Rob Weiss prior to the final Mary Harron venture. A number of high-profile actors were also attached to the early productions which most notably included Brad Pitt.
8. This Isn’t Titanic, Leo
Once Lionsgate got the rights to Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho (1991), Mary Harron became the writer/director. On her shift, many actors were considered for the role of Patrick Bateman including Billy Crudup, Jonny Lee Miller and even co-star Jared Leto. Prior to Christian Bale being cast as Bateman, producers tried to convince Harron to hire actor Edward Norton.
Harron refused. Later, Lionsgate tried to get Harron to sign Leonardo DiCaprio, but Harron left the project over that casting argument, and DiCaprio joined the production at that time. During Harron’s absence, Oliver Stone came aboard to helm the picture, at least as a producer. Once DiCaprio chose to make The Beach (2000) instead of American Psycho, Stone also abandoned ship which led to Harron’s return and the eventual casting of Christian Bale.
7. Rated NC-17
Originally, American Psycho was given an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). This would have been a death sentence for the picture since such a rating would have kept the younger demographics from seeing the picture. Mary Harron was forced to make a number of cuts to the film in order to garner American Psycho an R rating instead.
6. Guinevere Turner
Guinevere Turner is one of a bevy of smart, alluring sex kittens appearing in the movie, but she takes on double duty in American Psycho. Firstly, she co-wrote the screenplay alongside director Mary Harron. Second, she portrayed Patrick’s friend Elizabeth who is killed in bed by Bateman. Elizabeth is having a ménage à trois with Bateman and Christie when things go horribly wrong, and Christie is murdered with a chainsaw in the stairwell while trying to flee the coital carnage.
5. Faux Pas
American Psycho certainly is not without its faults. In the now famous business card scene, there is a glaring faux pas on the part of the person who printed the cards. Acquisitions is misspelled at the top right-hand of the card under the company name Pierce & Pierce as “aquisitions.”
4. All I Want to Do is Dance, Dance, Dance
Christian Bale had some fun with his director Mary Harron, and he improvised a couple of scenes in American Psycho. As Patrick Bateman jumped rope, Bale began skipping as a school girl and her friends might. In the sequence where Bateman offs Paul Allen, Bale began dancing uncontrollably which Harron admitted in interviews caused her to collapse with laughter.
3. This Confession Has Meant Nothing
Right before Patrick Bateman makes his closing monologue, and takes a drink, there is a sign attached to a door directly behind him. The sign reads: “This is not an exit.” This is an homage to author Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel of the same name. The final line of Ellis’ book reads: “This is not an exit.” If you want to critically assess the meaning of those words, they can be argued as a reflection of Bateman’s final bit of on-screen dialogue:
“This confession has meant nothing.”
Meaning: There is no escape for Bateman from his lurid fate.
2. The Name is Paul Owen
For whatever reason, Jared Leto’s character of Paul Allen was renamed for the film. The character is Paul Owen in the novel. Another glaring difference between Silver Screen and novel is the graphic nature in which Owen is murdered in the book compared to how tame the death appears on screen. Even the American production of the Broadway play American Psycho (2016) offers a bloodier demise for Paul Owen than the film.
1. Tom Cruise
While he doesn’t appear in the film version, Tom Cruise makes a cameo in both the novel and Broadway production of American Psycho. Cruise lives in the same building as Patrick Bateman, and the pair finds themselves alone in the elevator for one scene. Bateman tells Cruise how much he likes his film “Bartender.” Cruise seems a little disobliged when Bateman doesn’t know the movie’s real title: Cocktail (1988). The actor quickly corrects Patrick.