James Deen Discusses Lead Role in 'The Canyons'

LOS ANGELES — James Deen told XBIZ he is not having sex with Lindsay Lohan, his co-star in the mainstream film “The Canyons,” which began shooting today at an undisclosed location in LA. But he did make out with Katy Perry, innocently, at a party last week.

“I’m not hooking up with Lindsay,” Deen said Wednesday, addressing tabloid rumors that the two already were romantically linked off camera.

However, Deen added, “I totally made out with Katy Perry. She was really drunk at some party, I was very sober. It wasn’t elaborate. We’re not having sex. She had cake on her face. It was the Fourth of July.”  

Deen also assured that he isn’t having sex with Lindsay Lohan on camera for the film either.

“It’s not a porno, there is no actual sex in the movie,” said Deen, who has performed in close to 2500 hardcore sex scenes in the past eight years, including one for Elegant Angel on Wednesday.  

There are sex scenes in “The Canyons,” he noted, but they won’t involve penetration.

“Every single scene is filled with plot points,” Deen said. “It’s not being shot like a porno. It’s not meant to arouse. The scenes are meant to move the story along.”

The 26-year-old porn actor from Pasadena, Calif., recently finished four days of intensive rehearsal for his Hollywood film debut. He was hand-picked by “The Canyons” screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis for the lead role of Christian, described as "a handsome, fit, power player and major manipulator" who enjoys filming himself having kinky sex. 

Ellis is the notorious author of books such as "American Psycho" and "Less Than Zero." His screenplay is being directed by Paul Schrader, who is best known for writing classics such as "Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” and “American Gigolo," which he also directed.

Deen said the first day of rehearsal included the entire principal cast, Schrader and Ellis.

“The first day was just a table reading. Everyone that is involved read through the script and then we talked about it to see how we felt,” Deen explained. “Then the next day we started doing all the one-offs. They would pair us up, like we’d go over one scene with four people, and we talked a little about each scene and the characters. Paul Schrader talked with each actor about how they’re playing their role and about trying different things. It was really interesting and really beneficial.”

Deen said that he came away with a strong impression of Schrader after the rehearsal.

“I’m really impressed with him,” Deen continued. “I was warned by all these people. … There were rumors he used to sleep with a gun underneath his pillow, and ‘Paul does this’ and ‘Paul does that.’  But he has a way of communicating with each individual actor. The way he talks to me and the way he talks to the other actors is completely different. He’s really open. I think he’s an amazing director.”

The XBIZ Award-winning star said that he also was struck by how receptive Ellis was to the actors putting their own stamp on their roles.

“It’s kind of a treat to have the writer at the table reading,” Deen said. “Brett said the info is there, as long as the info gets related. He doesn’t have this attachment to his script.

“Brett gave everybody a much more comfortable sense of the story and we know we’re not going to offend Brett by changing things. He cares about the info being portrayed. The thing with this movie is it’s noir. There are no big fight scenes. There are things that happen, but for the most part it’s a talkie. It’s noir. You’re showing emotions.”

Schrader and Ellis are teaming with producer Braxton Pope (Lionsgate) to finance "The Canyons,” billed as a contemporary thriller about "youth, glamour, sex and Los Angeles, circa 2012."

The whole idea behind the movie is simply “a good group of people getting together to make something good for the sake of making something good,” Deen said.

“Money is not even the primary drive behind it,” he added. “They’re not trying to make a project to become billionaires off it.”

The former Starbucks barista said he feels “very comfortable” with his character of Christian.

“The fact that it’s a character that I really want to play makes it easier,” Deen said. “I feel pretty good about my attachment to the role and my interpretation of it.”

Still, he admitted to some pre-shoot jitters.

“I’m nervous, I don’t want to do a bad job,” Deen confessed. “When I’m doing porn, whether it’s Digital Playground scenes or parodies or something for [director] Eli Cross, I feel like even in porn, we all have an understanding that we want it to be good and we do the best we can. But there’s this understanding that no matter how important it is to us and how much we want it to be good, the project is not the acting, the project is the sex.

“If it comes down to good sex or good acting, we’ll take the good sex every time because we’re making adult films.

“So now it is a little nerve-wracking because with this, it’s just the acting for the first time. I’m leading a cast and I’ve never done something of that magnitude and I want to do a good job and I want to do well.”

Deen, who is profiled in this month’s issue of GQ, has received a remarkable amount of mainstream media attention this year, even without “The Canyons.” He is also going to be featured in Rolling Stone in an upcoming issue, doing a photo shoot last week for the piece in which the writer followed him around, including to one of his porn sets.

His profile will only continue to rise after “The Canyons” wraps and moves closer to being released. Deen said he’s ready.

“It’s good practice for [the XBIZ Awards],” he joked. “I think I’m actually going to walk the red carpet this year. And if I ever win an award again I can always go on stage. That’s the motivation.”