THE RULES OF ATTRACTION
About The Production
The commencement of production on The
Rules of Attraction represented the culmination of a 15-year-long effort by
director/writer Roger Avary to bring Bret Easton Ellis' withering social
dissection to the screen, having become enamored of the novel upon its
publication in 1987 as the author's sophomore effort following Less Than Zero.
As the years progressed toward the turn of the 21st century, Avary found that
the novel and its characters not only didn't age, but actually resonate more in
a time of increasing nihilism among the economically favored youth of America.
As a result, Avary eliminated the specific late 1980s setting of the story,
feeling that The Rules of Attraction not only speaks of the current generation,
but to them as well. "It's a complicated answer when I tell people that the
story takes place during no time," notes Avary. "The film will contain
an 80s conceit, be populated with present day dressings, but will exist--much
like Killing Zoe--in a bubble universe all its own."
Avary was originally drawn to The Rules
of Attraction because of its thematic connections to a period of social history
that had particular fascination for him: the dissipation and dissolution of the
French bourgeoisie in the 1930s, just before Hitler and the cataclysm of World
War II catapulted their world into trivia. And as an avowed and lifelong student
of film (his work as a former video store clerk gave him access to thousands of
titles), Avary recognized tangible links between The Rules of Attraction and
Jean Renoir's similarly titled 1939 classic The Rules of the Game.
"Something to keep in mind is that the 80s nihilism of Ellis' work was very
much alive in France during the 30s," notes Avary.
Provocative and often controversial,
Bret Easton Ellis is one of the most uncompromising social chroniclers of his
time. In a series of often devastating novels--Less Than Zero, The Rules of
Attraction, American Psycho, The Informers and Glamorama--Ellis has continuously
picked at the scabs of materialism, trendiness and emotional stasis among his
young, often frighteningly wealthy and wasteful characters. Often, characters
introduced in one novel will work their way into others, either as protagonists
or secondary characters. Hence, The Rules of Attraction's Victor is the subject
of Glamorama, and Sean Bateman is the brother of Patrick Bateman, the main
character of the aptly titled American Psycho, which was the basis of the
critically acclaimed Lions Gate film released in 2000 starring Christian Bale
and directed by Mary Harron.
Avary set about to engage in the
talents of some of the finest young performers working today. "Casting
James Van Der Beek as Sean Bateman was perceived by some as surprising and
subversive," admits Avary. "'The Beek' is one of the coolest guys I've
ever met, and has just the qualities I needed for my version of Bateman--not to
mention the will to go there." It didn't take the writer/director long to
make his choice for the right person to portray Lauren either. "I met
Shannyn Sossamon at her home and chatted for several hours about the
screenplay," says Avary, "and much to my delight our thematic
discussion evolved into a therapy session. I knew instantly that I had found my
Lauren--to be portrayed as a contradiction of confidence and insecurity--and
asked Shannyn to join our troupe for what measured up to be an amazing
Avary discovered the talented Ian
Somerhalder so late in the game that the first day's call sheet didn't even
carry the name of the actor selected to portray Paul Denton. The director was
convinced that he had found Paul upon seeing Somerhalder in<
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