Bret Easton Ellis, the iconoclastic author of “Less Than Zero” and screenwriter of “The Canyons,” has confirmed that he’s penned a script for a fellow pop-culture provocateur, “Yeezus” rapper-producer Kanye West.
The pair began collaborating last year when West enlisted the author to reimagine a scene from his 1991 novel “American Psycho” (adapted into a movie starring Christian Bale in 2000) for a promotional video for “Yeezus." The two worked so well together that they started meeting about a script, and Ellis recently told Vice that the project is now in West’s hands.
“It’s in Kanye land, and that’s subject to a whole other time frame,” Ellis said. Providing some background on the project, he added, "[West] came and asked me to write the film. I didn’t want to at first. Then I listened to ‘Yeezus.’ It was early summer last year and I was driving in my car. He’d given me an advance copy, and I thought, regardless of whether I’m right for this project, I want to work with whoever made this. … That was seven or eight months ago. We’ll see what happens.”
Ellis said of West, “I really like him as a person. I know he comes off in this performance-art way in the press, but if you’re just alone with him in a room talking for three hours, it’s kind of mind-blowing.”
Ellis also discussed his appreciation for the films of Terrence Malick -- “One of the key moments in my young movie-going life was watching ‘Days of Heaven’ and realizing that film was an art form,” he said -- and his experience making “The Canyons” with director Paul Schrader (“American Gigolo”).
Starring Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen and shot on a shoestring $160,000 budget, the film received poor reviews and tanked at the box office last year.
“‘The Canyons’ was guerrilla filmmaking,” Ellis said. “We were going to make it for no money and put it on iTunes. We didn’t think it was going to turn into this notorious cultural event in the U.S.”
West is no stranger to notorious cultural events himself, with a track record of provocative music and imagery, explosive paparazzi run-ins, awkward award show interruptions and epic rants.
Through it all, he remains confident in his own artistic abilities. In a quintessential appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in October, West said, “I’m a creative genius, and there’s no other way to word it. I know you’re not supposed to say that about yourself. I say things the wrong way a lot of times, but the intention is always positive.”