His infamous novel American Psycho is being made into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and he's the subject of a South Bank Show documentary. So why is BRET EASTON ELLIS going mental? Words: Peter Ross


THERE'S A SCENE IN AMERICAN Psycho where Patrick Bateman. a Wall Street trader who decapitates girls in his yuppy pad to the strains of Talking Heads. runs through Manhattan foaming at the mouth and compulsiyely huying hutcher kniyes. \Vhile nowhere near as wired as his character. Bret liaston lillis is still rather worked up.

‘No. no. no. Why did I get inyolyed'.’ This is inordinately painful.‘ he mutters. lingers in ears. cowering through a screening of This Is Not .-\n lirit. a documentary about his life and work directed by B.»\l'"f:\ winner (iet‘ald l'iox. due to he shown on The Soul/i BUN/t Slum: The author hates the film. helieying it misrepresents him and is too hard on his father. a yiolent alcoholic who left home when lillis was a teenager.

"fhe lilm is truly painful. especially the stuff about my dad.‘ he moans.

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~'fhey show clips from home moyies made when l was a kid and play ominous music o\'et' it. I just thought "Jesus? That‘s totally unfair to my dad". \Vhatewr he was like. just giye him a little dignity here. I regret doing it.~

This Is Nu! .‘lII l:'.\'iI - the name comes from the last line of .'lll1('l'f('(lll l’syt'lm »- tracks the author from l..:\. childhood. throuin early success with l.('.\‘.\ 'I'lum [em (famously written for course credits when he was twenty). to the of the (i/umnrmnu. a novel comhining hiin fashion with international terrorism. which took eight years to write. But. no matter how great (Jlunmrunm turns out to he. lillis will foreyer he known as 'that sicko who wrote xlnu'l‘it‘ml l’syt ‘liif.

Briefly America's most reyiled man when the noyel was published in l‘)‘)|. he receiyed a harrage of hate mail from those who mistook his satire on 80s


publication of

'It would be great if Leonardo DiCaprio did it. There's something kinda great and perverse about him of all people playing that role.’

Bret Easton Ellis

capitalism for misogynist fantasy. ()ne charming correspondent offered to rape him with a nail-studded baseball hat.

‘lt‘s yery flattering to think of myself as the American Salman Rushdie. serpentining in and out of armoured cars. tanks and being put into safe-houses.’ says lillis. ‘But I did receiye a lot of death threats.‘

The controversy is set to blow up again now that Leonardo l)i(‘aprio is negotiating to star in the film of

.'l/ll(’l'l('(lll l’syt'lm. with Oliver Stone

pencilled in to direct. 'lt would he great if Leonardo l)i(‘aprio did it.~ says lillis. emphatically. ‘l‘irst of all. he‘s a terrific actor. hut i think there's something kinda great and peryerse about him of all people playing that role. It adds another dimension to the moyie that makes it even more peryerse. and that's a kick.’

lillis‘ ohy'iotlsly likes toying with

I ' 4 ,\ _ a, '5 {lfiayilaiiif Ili’i‘iiliiilii .I.“ '\,|:‘.||.'. (lililuliiu’ ,(lnlr’l