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Roger Avary: Interview

Review by Clint Morris

Interview with The Rules of Attraction director, Roger Avary

For an ex-video store rewind boy, writer/director/producer Roger Avary has come far.

Already in his undersized career, he’s a fan-boy favourite thanks to cult hit Reservoir Dogs, has grabbed an Oscar for his gleaming formation of 1995 gem Pulp Fiction, won kudos for solo-project Killing Zoe and now, is the resentment of a globe full of pre-pubescent males, having directed a smorgasbord of semi-naked female in The Rules of Attraction. Clint Morris reports....

Avary (middle) on the set of Rules

The mutinous, unobstructed gambol is the brainchild of author Brett Easton Ellis.

The book, which follows a group of stained rich college kids through a semester of drugs and sex was published in 1987; and the uniformly singular Avary has been trying to make it ever since.

Avary says even while making the film he knew the outcome was going to be something astonishing. “It was an extraordinary shoot -- unusually smooth.

“Everyone turned in magnificent performances and there really was this vibe that we were all here to do something special.

“I've felt blessed, or charmed, on this film because everything that should have gone wrong went right. For a movie made with so little money, we did amazing things. I'm more proud of this film, and my experience on it, than anything else I've ever done,” says Avary.

Adapting a novel for the screen is always a task. Among the problems - deciding which characters to include and which to excise.

Avary says that his main problem in adapting Rules was trying to decide whether the characters of the author’s other books – the renowned Patrick Bateman of American Psycho or even Clay from Less than Zero – should get a look-in, just like they did in the novel form.

“During the writing stage I toyed with the idea of Clay and Blaire (from Less than Zero) returning to campus (and I would have used Andrew McCarthy and Jamie Gertz). My notion was that Clay was now a studio executive and they were visiting his magna alumni for nostalgia.

“I wrote several variations on scenes with Clay and Blaire, but they always seemed extraneous to the story I was telling. And my script was already long by Hollywood standards -- so I cut them.”

One character Avary did keep in the finished outline was Patrick Bateman, the contemptible yuppie serial killer from book and recent film, American Psycho, but unfortunately the actor who played Bateman in the contentious film didn’t see fit to return. “I'm sorry that Christian (Bale) didn't want to reprise his role, but in a way I'm happy about it.

From the video store to the movie set

“My movie and Mary Harron's movie are two very different creatures from two very different universes. I thought it would be cute to have Christian there -- but in the end my Patrick Bateman exists for very different reasons than Mary's did. In the end it was for the best.”

The Rules of Attraction features some of the most divisive scenes we’ve ever seen on screen – Avary teases with one moment. “The Dressed to Get Screwed Party from the book proved to be one of the most exhilarating days on the set.

“Unfortunately I had walking Pneumonia that day and couldn't enjoy all of the nakedness running around.” He adds that audiences can expect to see teen-dreams like James Van Der Beek and Jessica Biel in a totally different light...

Avary and one-time collaborator Quentin Tarantino reportedly had a falling out a few years back, but the illustrious scribe says had it not been for his days working behind the counter at a video store with Quentin, maybe none of these deep-seated movie ideas would have surfaced.

“Most of our great ideas began behind the counter of that store. Most of those ideas have yet to surface so that the public can enjoy them as much as we did.”

He says it was a dream come true when he and Quentin won their Oscar for 1995’s Pulp Fiction – if only because it made him more popular with the ladies. “Let me put it this way, I've had women ask me if I would f*** them with my Academy Award. Imagine what it has done for my career.”

Avary’s next movie will be a spin-off of Rules of Attraction called Glamorama – featuring Kip Pardue’s character from the aforesaid.

And it doesn’t worry him that he’s again using someone else’s words: “I prefer to direct because you get to interact with people. Writing is just something I need to do to get the movie made. It's just a tool to explain to people what I see in my head.”

And, despite the fact audiences didn’t take to Rules like flies to a cadaver the way the distributor anticipated, Avary says he’s not fazed – he’s just glad he got to work with the fine cast he did. “The film industry is too fickle and unpredictable. I can tell you that I don't believe in extremism, in any direction.”

He says, “The best talent to work with is talent that trusts you. Trust is what filmmaking is all about.”

The Rules of Attraction commences in Australia from Feb 20.

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