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Chloe Sevigny on Christian Bale Method Acting in American Psycho

Chloe Sevigny on Christian Bale Method Acting in American Psycho

Chloë Sevigny and Josh Lucas are looking back at working with Christian Bale in American Psycho.

The film, released in 2000, starred Bale as an investment banker by day but a serial killer by night. With Bale known for abiding by a Method acting process, Lucas and Sevigny recalled being intimidated by the actor.

“I don’t know if you felt this way, but I actually truly remember thinking that Christian Bale was terrible,” Lucas said in a conversation with Sevigny for Vanity Fair.

“I remember the first scene I did with him, I watched him and he seemed so false — and I now realize that it was this just fucking brilliant choice that he was making. That was an actor who was at such a completely different level already, and that he was capable of having these crazy layers going on in what he was doing. I thought it was bogus acting at the time, but was exactly the opposite,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sevigny explained that though she tried to “respect his process” at the time, she still found it “challenging because I’m very gregarious and silly and goofy, unbeknownst to the general public. When people take themselves so seriously, I kind of shut down, even though I take my work very seriously and I love acting and whatnot. I was really intimidated by his process and intimidated by him, and I wanted a little more generosity to make myself feel more at ease, which is my own ego.”

“It was a really challenging dynamic for me, but I don’t think that I thought he was bad,” she added. “I was just kind of confused, like, ‘Why aren’t you being social?’ I wasn’t even that aware of what the Method thing was. I never had any formal training; I think I was just kind of ‘fake it until you make it.’ But the whole Method thing, I was like, What even is this approach? It was very intimidating.”

Lucas added that while he normally finds Method actors “really terrible to work with,” the “ones like Christian, [who’s] not paying attention to fucking anything else but what he’s doing,” he has “nothing but admiration for.”

“A lot of Method actors are actually kind of distracting with the fact that their process is more important than anything or anybody else,” Lucas said.

“It’s kind of surprising that Christian would be emotionally invested the way he is, because he was a child actor,” Sevigny added of Bale. “It’s not like he studied in college and then became this Method-y, Brando-y kind of thing. He found this journey from being a child actor to then an adult actor that I think is a really interesting trajectory, and I’m curious about that.”

In the film, Sevigny played a secretary while Lucas played one of the friends/rivals to Bale’s Patrick Bateman.

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When further reflecting on American Psycho, Lucas noted that because the film was a “very early film” for him, he was nervous on set, even shaking while with co-star Willem Dafoe.

“I got into the car with Willem Dafoe and I was honestly shaking. I said to him, ‘Man, I’m so nervous,’ and he turned around and he just gave me this great look and he was like, ‘Man, if you’re not nervous, something’s wrong.’ I’ve kind of maintained that every day,” Lucas said.

As for working with Sevigny, Lucas said he admired her work and knew she was “already a darling of critical cinema.” “Back then, making American Psycho, I felt like there was a group of people like you who had really deserved and earned their way into great filmmaking, and I sure felt like I was a newbie — and a nervous newbie, to say the least,” Lucas told Sevigny.

Sevigny quipped that she remembered  “a lot of very handsome boys” on set which led her to try “to be one of the guys, but also flirt with the guys.” She recalled, “There was a lot going on. I remember we were having cocktails in the hotel lobby, and I was trying to get everybody to go down to the spa. Weird, but yeah, why not?”

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