Like many a pop culture aficionado, The Canyons star James Deen read the New York Times story on Lindsay Lohan/ The Canyons over the weekend. But unlike many fans gobbling up the article for intel on Lohan, her co-star Deen read the feature, which outlined Lohan’s love of chaos and inappropriate on-set behavior, with bemused wonder. “The best way I can describe [the Times article] is actual life events reflected in a mirror and then retold for dramatic effect,” Deen said on the phone with EW this morning. “It’s accurate enough that it can’t be said that it’s not; it’s not a lie. But it’s twisted enough that if you were actually there you’re like, ‘Wait. That’s not exactly what happened.’”
What did actually happen was Deen (real name Bryan Matthew Sevilla), affectionately known as ‘the porn star next door’ with over 4,000 credits to his name, started hearing his name thrown around by screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis on Twitter. Ellis was looking for an actor for an upcoming noir thriller, and needed the person to be comfortable with a lot of nudity. Enter Deen. What Deen didn’t know at the time was the low-budget project that would become The Canyons, directed by Paul Schrader, would also be starring Lindsay Lohan — and that equaled a lot of extra drama.
Deen wasn’t all that familiar with Lohan. He’d heard the stories about her self-destruction with drugs and alcohol, but he’d never actually seen a Lohan movie – not even Mean Girls. So when Lohan appeared for her first day on set with him – late, as The Times wrote — Deen didn’t know what to expect. There is audio floating around of the two of them arguing over a scene one day, with Deen saying he was doing The Canyons “for fun,” which seemed to anger Lohan – a convo Deen chalks up to a misunderstanding. “It’s just the delicate ego of the Hollywood person,” he said. “I’ve learned that most people in the Hollywood mainstream world are so delicate, fragile and egotistical. [Comments like mine] really f*** with their heads.”
One day on set that Deen is eager to talk about is the duo’s already-infamous sex scene, which would mark Lohan’s first on-camera nudity for a film. “The Times said there were a bunch of other porn stars there, but that’s not right,” he said. “It wasn’t like we were all having sex and an orgy in the bedroom! During rehearsal, everyone was talking the scene to death. Schrader was so uncomfortable. I think the issue was every other [cast member] was so comfortable, it made Lindsay feel like she didn’t matter. …I think Lindsay wanted [the nudity] to be a bigger deal than it was. She needs attention. [She wanted the crew to be naked] and they just laughed. So Schrader is freaking out and then this is what actually happened: Schrader looked her in the eye and said, ‘I’m not making my f***ing crew do that. But you know what?’ strips his clothes off except for his socks, walks to the monitor, and says, ‘Action.’ And Lindsay ran out from the closet, giggling like crazy, and we shot the scene. One take.”
Beyond the occasional flare-up, Deen said that he got along well with Lohan, hanging out with her to build chemistry, and that for a bit after the shoot [it concluded end of July] they would continue to text. While they have different “lifestyles,” “She herself doesn’t bother me at all,” Deen said. “It’ll be interesting [to see how the movie turns out]. It might be really good; it might be really strange. But either way, it’s going to be cool to watch.”
As for what his own future holds post-Canyons, Deen isn’t concerned about getting past the porn-star label (nor does he have any plans to stop making adult films and transition entirely to more mainstream fare). “Hollywood is always going to see me as ‘that porn guy,’” he said. “There is no way to avoid it…I do adult because it’s what I love.” But he is working on other projects in addition to shooting his scenes, most notably producing. He’s taken to Kickstarter to get funding for a sci-fi western steampunk short called Cowboys & Engines. “I’m not going to be the next Brad Pitt or Marlon Brando. I’m that porn guy. And after [The Canyons] comes out, I’m still going to be that porn guy. And maybe I’ll be that porn guy who gets offered a little indie every now and then.”
UPDATE: EW reached out to The New York Times for comment, and they gave the following statement: “The Times stands by the story.”