Stephen Rodrick, a contributing writer for the magazine, wroteÂ this weekâ€™s cover articleÂ about the making of the movie â€śThe Canyons,â€ť which was directed byÂ Paul Schrader and includesÂ Lindsay Lohan. Rodrick last wrote for the magazine aboutÂ Martin Peretz, the long-time owner of The New Republic.
What surprised you the first time you met Lindsay Lohan?
The first time I met her was at a table read that she was already late for. Everyone else had long been in their seats. Paul Schrader had just given a lecture about how Lindsay thrived on chaos and, on cue, she walked into the room, hair tossed, smelling of smoke and bangles on her arm banging up and down. I scrawled â€śfragileâ€ť and â€śtornadoâ€ť into my notebook. That sounds a bit melodramatic, so I didnâ€™t put those words in the story, but she can be melodrama personified.
By the end of the time you spent with Lohan, had your impression of her changed?
Thereâ€™s a scene in the story where she has to weep on camera, and she retreats to her room. And you could just hear wailing, and I describe her crying as sounding like a child lost in the woods with no chance of rescue. And thatâ€™s what I believe. She entered Hollywood as a child star with two massively dysfunctional parents who have filled their own Dr. Phil hours. She didnâ€™t have a chance. For every Jodie Foster, there are five Lindsay Lohans.
But hereâ€™s the thing, thereâ€™s talent in there. She has that undefinable â€śitâ€ť quality. You can see it at certain moments in the film. The frustrating/tragic thing, and Lindsay would be the first to admit it, is getting that talent out of her over the past few years has been nearly impossible. Thatâ€™s why I called the piece â€śThe Misfits,â€ť after Marilyn Monroeâ€™s last film, one that Schrader and the crew were constantly talking about on set. You canâ€™t argue that Lindsay has the talent or resume of Monroe, but there is that same feeling of talent slipping away, perhaps permanently.
What was the cast and crewâ€™s reaction to Lohan?
It varied, but you could say it started it with awe, slid to amusement and ended with annoyance. You have to remember this was a grueling 21-day shoot, and everyone was working 12-hour days, many of them for $100 a day. If you have a star that is chronically late or constantly involved in some kind of drama, it wears on your nerves. There was a moment when Schrader and James Deen (Lohanâ€™s co-star) argued about a scene in Malibu â€” a very rare occurrenceÂ â€” and Lohan chided Deen for disrespecting his director. There was much audible sighing and smacking of foreheads from the crew.
These people all seem to share one problem: debt. Is there any way that â€śselling outâ€ť or â€ścashing in,â€ť neither of which are phrases with positive artistic connotations, will create a good movie?
Well, I think thereâ€™s a big difference between doing a movie â€śon the cheapâ€ť and selling out. And none of the players are actually broke; they just donâ€™t have the cash to self-finance a $250,000 film, much less a $5 million film. While there was some element of â€śmaybe we could make a killing,â€ť I think â€śThe Canyonsâ€ť was more driven by a desire to actually make something and not wait three years for overseas funding or for a project to wind its way out of turnaround. There was a lot of â€śhow can we make this look like $5 million film?â€ť and not much of â€śhow can we make this as commercial as possible?â€ť If that were their goal, there probably would have been less full frontal.
How did you get access to the set like that? Usually, these things are micro-managed by publicists and handlers.
Iâ€™d met Schrader a few years back when he was trying to do a Bollywood movie. He was incredibly open about the process at a lunch we had in Manhattan. That project ended up not happening, but I kept tabs on him, and when I saw the first news about â€śThe Canyons,â€ť I e-mailed him and said that if I was going to do the piece, Iâ€™d need nearly complete access. He said, â€śLet me think about it.â€ť An hour later, he said, â€śLetâ€™s do it.â€ť Lindsayâ€™s people balked, but Paul, to his everlasting credit, said, â€śThatâ€™s fine, but Iâ€™ll have to replace her.â€ť Her people backed down.
Paul Schrader seems like a tough boss. Was he hard on everyone?
Yes and no. Here was a man with a legendary IMDB entry and heâ€™s trying to make a film for $250,000 â€” a k a $8.75 million less than his previously smallest-budget film. The crew was pretty green and that wore on him after a while, in conjunction with Lohanâ€™s creative misbehaving. I think it was a careful-what-you-wish-for experience: He had total control and there were no studio execs breathing down his neck. But in exchange he had to do a lot of little things he wasnâ€™t used to doing, whether it was resetting a boom mic for a shot or trying to find one of the interns to retrieve his reading glasses from his hotel in the middle of a busy shooting day. (The poor kid made three trips before bringing the right ones.) Plus, heâ€™s 66; men get crankier as they get older. I can speak from personal experience on that one.
Were there some scenes in the story that were left on the cutting room floor?
Oh, man, there are enough B-sides and extras to make the magazine equivalent of Oasisâ€™s â€śThe Masterplan.â€ť I joked with Sheila Glaser, my editor, that we were cutting stuff that would be the lead in most Hollywood stories. At the wrap party, I tried to talk Lindsay into posing for some photos with Deen for the story. She said she would if I could get him to apologize for â€śdisrespectingâ€ť her during filming. She wanted Deen to get on a table and shout a mea culpa. Deen just laughed and said, â€śThat is so not happening.â€ť It was a lot like high school. Then there was the time Lindsay picked up the hot end of a curling iron and was treated with some frozen peas out of the producerâ€™s freezer. So many memories.
In the end, what did you think of the film? Youâ€™ve seen it a couple of times.
I like it, but that may be a little Stockholm Syndrome kicking in. Whenever I do one of these stories, I always root for the project. So if youâ€™re there day-in, day-out, you lose critical perspective. But as I said in the story, the filmâ€™s weakest 10 minutes is the filmâ€™s first 10 minutes, and that ainâ€™t good. Braxton Pope, the producer, and Bret Easton Ellis, the screenwriter, wanted to reshoot the opening scene, but Schrader wouldnâ€™t hear of it. He had his reasons, namely wrangling Lohan for another day of shooting would be like trying to catch water in a net. But after a slow start, the film kicks into gear.
Source: Ny Times