Yahoo – One thing actors often say they most enjoy about their craft is the opportunity to become a character that’s wildly different from who they are in real life. But leaving that role behind when the project is done can be a more difficult challenge. James Van Der Beekexperienced that firsthand during the making of his cult 2002 film, The Rules of Attraction. In a recent Facebook Live interview with Yahoo TV, the actor — who is currently executive producing and starring in Viceland‘s new mockumentary series, What Would Diplo Do? — revealed that he had a hard time shaking his dark-hearted Attraction character, Sean Bateman. “I did end up going into therapy for the first time after that,” he explained. “I didn’t know how to process that stuff as an actor at that point. You learn to channel something without it sticking to you.”
“Rules of Attraction” is really worth seeing. While I don’t think I really give any true “spoilers” below it’s something you should go into blind, so feel free to skip this one for now if you haven’t seen it and pay the $2.99 on demand this weekend.
So for those of you who don’t know or haven’t seen it, “Rules Of Attraction” was a movie that came out in 2002 based on a book by Bret Easton-Ellis, who also wrote “American Psycho” and I’m sure you’ve at least heard how that one turns out. It also occurs in the same “universe” as “American Psycho”, a la the Kevin Smith movies, so keep that in mind. Anyway, ROA (I’m not writing “Rules Of Attraction” another 10000 times) follows a group of hard partying students at a yuppie, fictional, New England liberal arts college and their interactions with each other. It became – and continues to be – a cult/sleeper classic in that no one really saw it upon first release but since then a ton of people have caught wind of it via word of mouth and absolutely love it. Think “Boondock Saints”or, more recently, “That Akwarkward Moment” (Ya I know its on TV all the time but who saw it in theaters? Fuckin thought so.).
As a movie, ROA was known for a few different things. One was obviously the cast – a who’s who of those late 90’s early 2000’s actors such as Van Der Beek, Jessica Biel, and the kid who played Sunshine in “Remember The Titans” – as well as the fact that they were largely playing characters that weren’t their type, at least at the time. While they all had played parts that had partied and bent the rules quite a bit, it was always with a certain lightheartedness and sense of Americana. ROA was just dark, as I’ll get into in a bit. The second thing it was known for was the way it was shot. The movie often goes often into short bursts of listed activities to take you through a character’s psyche and background. It also uses a lot of focused and close up shots of character’s facial expressions and body language to convey their intentions and personas. Last but not least, as I alluded to earlier, ROA is known for being completely and utterly fucked. While many movies feature horny young men out to get messed up and bang as many chicks as possible, ROA features malicious manipulative behavior on the part of, and mind games played by, some of the male characters for the sole purpose of seeing just how badly they can psychologically fuck up the women (and sometimes men) in their lives. It also should be noted that, on an island, the females are not exactly the picture of stability, either. When it comes to the boys though, I am talking purely sociopathic behavior, particularly on the part of Van Der Beek’s character.
The former Dawson Leery plays the main character, Sean Bateman. Remember I mentioned how Easton-Ellis’ stories often occurred in the same universe? Ya well Sean is Patrick Bateman’s little brother. That give you a clearer picture of things? You see what we’re dealing with? So you can see how after playing average, middle-American, deep-thinking guys such as Dawson and Mox that James Van Der Beek walked away from diving into the cold, scary parts of himself to play Sean Bateman a little shaken up. It also really shows how committed some actors are and how much they let their characters consume them, really becoming this fictional person, in order to put on a performance. For a guy like Van Der Beek, who I think was kind of written off as a pretty boy to play light, superficial characters this just goes to show he at least is damn dedicated to his craft. Story-wise, for me at least and I don’t mean to be insensitive, this hearkens back to Heath Ledger playing the Joker, and how the depths of depravity he brought himself to in order to pull off such a complete clinic of a performance may have been what drove him to the drugs that killed him.
I guess it goes to show, anything that us mere mortals can’t imagine doing, from sports to movies to music, takes a commitment-level the result of which can have some pretty drastic consequences. Crazy.