King Cobra tells the story of real-life adult film star Brent Corrigan (Garrett Clayton), who wasn’t quite adult age when he first started out in the industry. The film, which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and hits theaters and VOD on Friday via IFC Midnight, chronicles the lurid murder case in which Corrigan’s estranged porn mentor Steven Kocis (Christian Slater) was killed by rival porn producers (James Franco and Keegan Allen).
But the movie, written and directed by Justin Kelly (I Am Michael) doesn’t linger on the details of the sensational homicide. Instead, much of the focus, especially in the first half, is on the complex relationship between Kocis and Corrigan — and Slater proves himself to be the project’s MVP, giving a performance of nuance and poignancy as a gay-porn entrepreneur who is nonetheless still closeted around his neighbors and family. (Molly Ringwald has a cameo as Slater’s sister.)
“I was looking for something to do that scared me,” Slater tells EW. “Something out of my comfort zone. And then James Franco handed me this script and I really loved it. It didn’t feel stereotypical and there were aspects of the character that I felt I could really identify with.”
Slater, currently in renaissance form with his award winning role on USA’s Mr. Robot, had never played a gay character before. He didn’t have any qualms, but director Kelly still found a clever way to make keep Slater fresh on the set.
“Maybe he played it ingeniously, but Justin told me that James [Franco] would be taking on the lion’s share of that — and that immediately ignited the competitive, actor-y nature of myself, and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t want James to do everything!’ So that inspired me to not shy away from anything which I could potentially do with this film and with this character.”
Check out an exclusive clip from King Cobra above, and two more clips from the film below. Slater’s fascinating performance, reminiscent of Burt Reynolds’ Oscar nominated role in Boogie Nights, deserves to be seen and talked about.