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THE MOVIE: The Rules of Attraction

James Van Der Beek • Shannyn Sossamon
• Jessica Biel • Ian Somerhalder
DIRECTOR: Roger Avary

Shannyn Sossamon and Jessica Biel THE CONCEPT:
Focussing on a group of affluent students at a liberal arts college who spend most of their time expressing themselves through endless rounds of drugs, alcohol-and-sex-drenched campus parties.

U.S. RELEASE: October 11, 2002 • Rated: R


“My first reaction [in thinking about James for the role of Sean Bateman] was, ‘Dawson, for this part? Are you nuts?’ That’s probably one of the trappings of being so intensely successful on something that is a long-running narrative like television.”

JAMES VAN DER BEEK (Sean Bateman):
“My work on Dawson’s Creek doesn’t exactly scream Sean Bateman. A lot of people were unwilling to entertain the possibility that I could do it. But Roger pretty much insisted on it and said, ‘No, I’m casting this guy no matter what the producers say!’”

“When you read the script initially, it’s written in a way that hasn’t been done on film. You meet a character and then the camera rolls in, you reverse, but you’re not really reversing in time, you’re actually moving parallel in time; you’re moving to another perspective of the person. The first three or four pages I read, I said, ‘I’ll do whatever I can to get this movie!’”

“The one thing that kept me in character was I just had to remind myself how self-destructive Lauren was. She’s innocent, she’s sweet and she’s cool too. There are people that are very cool, but who are totally selling themselves out at the same time. It was getting that fine line, and it was hard. She has issues with losing her virginity, but being a virgin doesn’t make her a good person. She’s still getting high as hell and drinking all the time and hanging out with losers.”

“I didn’t so much love the character of Lara, I loved that she was so different from me. I knew that I would just have to make somebody up. What was hard was not making her a totally awful human being. I wanted her to be somewhat likeable, because there are people like her in the world.”

JAMES VAN DER BEEK on working with Shannyn:
“Working in television, you get proficient in all the technical aspects of film making that you need to be proficient at; whereas Shannyn completely runs on instinct. You never know what you’re going to get from her. It’s like working with a child. She doesn’t know how to lie. You don’t know what she’s going to come up with, and that’s tremendously exciting for me to work with someone like that. It forces you to be on your toes.”

IAN SOMBERHALDER on playing a gay character:
“Paul is very subtle, if he’s gay he’s subtly gay, he’s not this openly flamboyant guy. It’s challenging as a straight guy to make conscious efforts to be gay. The one thing you’re comfortable with is your sexuality, you know it when you wake up and you know it when you go to bed, it’s like wearing a comfortable pair of shoes. And when you step out, it’s a challenge.”

“I’m extremely proud of the movie. Roger [Avary] is so good that even though you’re in the film, you can actually watch it and separate yourself from it and be effected by every single thing. I think the movie is hilarious – it’s so dark but when it’s funny, it’s funny.”

“I was so happy shooting this movie, but once I stopped playing the character I really left him behind. The second to last day I remember sitting down with Shannyn and saying, ‘I’m ready to not be Sean Bateman anymore.’ When I saw the first cut, I was stuck by how unhappy Sean is all the time. All I had taken with me is how great a time I had doing it.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Lions Gate Films Inc
Feature © 2002 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #624, November 2002 cover

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