Psycho Writer – Fangoria interview with Guin Turner June 2000

By Sarah Kendzior from Fangoria magazine JUNE 2000
Scripting AMERICAN PSYCHO was a different experience for indie stalwart Guinevere Turner

"It´s been so crazy!" exclaims screenwriter Guinevere Turner. "I´ve been doing so much AMERICAN PSYCHO press, it´s like my phone´s ringing, my fax machine´s going, I´m getting a Fedex – I´m so excited, but I need like 12 assistants," she laughs. "I´m just feeling so sorry for myself in my lovely little moment of, ´Yay, my movie´s coming out!´"

Turner has reason to feel some strain with AMERICAN PSYCHO now in theaters nationwide, the film — based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the sam name — has been dnounced by everyone from Huey Lewis to the Czech Republic, while receiving equally impassioned praise from film critics across nation. For Turner, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Mary Harron, the experience has been somewhat surreal.

"When we were writing it (in 1996), the kind of materialism that´s happening now wasn´t quite in place." She explains. "But now it seems like there´s a whole new (variety of that) kind of person, the whole 1990s/millennium breed. It´s not people who come from money, it´s people who were smart enough to start the right internet company at the right time. But I think it definitely holds up — the obsession with things, a cell phone in every corner."

A darkly amusing satire of 1980s greed and excess. AMERICAN PSYCHO follows the adventures of Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a Wall Street yuppie whose love for material luxury is equally matched his penchant for homicide. AMERICAN PSYCHO´s overtly anti-materialist message is one which some feel has been lost on the film´s studio, Lions Gate, whose promotional tactics have included selling AMERICAN PSYCHO shares on the Hollywood Stock Exchange for actual profit, and who are currently negotiating a series of sequels to the film.

"I was talking to Bret the other day, and he said it was kind of funny, Turner reveals. "He was sort of entertained by where they´re talking AMERICAN PSYCHO today. It´s weird, because you can point the same finger at the movie industry in general, you know? A whole breed of people are trying to make independent films with the idea of making money and getting laid. Everything is f**king corrupt."

Turner´s roots in independent film go back to 1994, when her movie GO FISH – which she wrote, produced and starred in — won rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. She has since appeared in numerous indies including CHASING AMY, DOGMA and THE WATERMELON WOMAN. "My mom is so excited about AMERICAN PSYCHO." she explains, "because she´s like, ´It´s the first time you´re going to be in a film that´s in the mall next to my house!´ "Turner laughs and adds, "I have a feeling she´s going to be a little freaked out about the actuality of what it is"

She certainly wouldn´t be alone. Since work began on AMERICAN PSYCHO in 1996, the film has experienced a series of controversies regarding the cast, the crew and the Motion Picture Association of America. On February 3, the board ruled that a scene depicting a threesome between Bateman and two prostitutes required editing to ensure an R rating, a move which baffles Turner.

"What they chose to cut out seems so arbitrary, "she says." They took the word ´asshole´ and made it into ´ass.´ They also cut a shot Christian looking in the mirror while they´re having sex. I´m like, ´Hey, I was in the three-way sex scene where I get killed – you don´t want to edit that at all?´"

Aside from co-writing the film, Turner plays the character of Elizabeth, a role which has a uniquely personal appeal. "It was written already, and I said, ´Mary, you just have to let me play this part – it´s too hilarious! It´s such a funny scene, but the fact that it´s a Sarah Lawrence girl — I went to school with this girl, I know this girl," explains Turner, who graduated from the college in 1989. "I´m just waiting for the administration at Sarah Lawrence to be like, ´Oh God, what a terrible portrayal of Sarah Lawrence, some drunk, cooked-up slut making out with hookers´".

Turner turns serious, however, when discussing the motive behind the MPAA´s decision. "It was just too bleak," she says of hte scene. "There´s so much stuff in the film that´s downright shocking and disturbing, and they´re like, ´Ooh, don´t depress anyone." The thing about the novel that I think is so great is that there´s no happy ending. There´s no protection from various kinds of monstrosities, this being a metaphor for one of them. It´s like, don´t rest easy at night. Bateman exists, and everyone should know about it. There are people like this who are not getting caught, and they are the privileged people of the world."

Conversely, Turner describes the making of AMERICAN PSYCHO as a rather bizarre experience. "It was funny, because neither of us are really horror movie people. So we were kind of alternately freaked out and I laughing and like, ´Oh, it´ll be really funny that we´re putting a head in the refrigerator" and being silly about it because it was so disturbing. We´d read aloud to each other and then Mary would read a passage and get really quiet and go, ´Oh, Guin! Guin, this is awful! It´s horrible! When we met Bret, we were like , ´Bret, what is wrong with you? How could you write this?´ "she laughs. Turner seems to have forgiven the notorious author, however, who she describes as shy and sweet: "He was actually my date for the premiere!"


We’re told the following issues of Fangoria also have articles on American Psycho:
(We’re yet to find them, but when we do, they’re all yours)
Fangoria 191 p.38-41 (M. Harron) AMERICAN PSYCHO
Fangoria 192 p.54-57 (C. Bale) AMERICAN PSYCHO

Thanks to Kent for this interview & other information

You can check out the Fangoria Magazine website HERE.