Bret Easton Ellis talks film adaptations at SCAD

The author had a few insights into the problems and successes of the four films that have been made from his books

Image Last night at SCAD, Bret Easton Ellis answered questions for about at hour to promote the release of his new book, Imperial Bedrooms. The book follows Clay, a character from his first novel Less Than Zero, as he works in Hollywood as a scriptwriter.

Fittingly, an audience member asked him to talk about the film adaptations of his books. After claiming that he “liked them,” the author had a few insights into the problems and successes of the four films that have been made from his books.

Less Than Zero:
“Less Than Zero was a weird case because there isn’t a single line of dialogue or a scene from the book in the movie. So, okay, you have to deal with that in a certain way. Yet, the movie has this reputation as the dark age brat pack movie: Robert Downey Jr. on drugs going out of his mind! The Bangles, “Hazy Shade of Winter”! Club scenes! James Spader, really creepy! It’s become this weird kind of classic, but it’s not that great of a movie. I myself, I’m now nostalgic for that film. I really didn’t get it at first, but now I’m kind of sentimental about it. I don’t know, I have a soft spot for that movie.”

American Psycho:
“American Psycho was a book I didn’t think needed to be turned into a movie. I think the problem with American Psycho was that it was conceived as a novel, as a literary work with a very unreliable narrator at the center of it and the medium of film demands answers. It demands answers. You can ambiguous as you want with a movie, but it doesn’t matter — we’re still looking at it. It’s still being answered for us visually. I don’t think American Psycho is particularly more interesting if you knew that he did it or think that it all happens in his head. I think the answer to that question makes the book infinitely less interesting.”

The Rules of Attraction:
“My favorite movie out of the four was The Rules of Attraction. I thought it was the only one that captured the sensibility of the novel in a cinematic way. I know I’m sounding like a film critic on that, but I’m talking about that in an emotional — as the writer of the novel. I watched that movie and thought they got it in a way that Mary Harron director of American Psycho didn’t and Less Than Zero didn’t.”

The Informers:
“That movie doesn’t work for a lot reasons but I don’t think any of those reasons are my fault.”