- Photography by Mr Miles Aldridge
- Styling by Mr Dan May, Style Director, MR PORTER
- Words by Mr Jeremy Langmead, Editor-in-Chief, MR PORTER
A musical version of a book chronicling the trials and tribulations of a psychopathic New York investment banker obsessed with business cards, facial peels and Whitney Houston? The lead character being played and sung by the former Doctor Who actor Mr Matt Smith? The prestigious Almeida Theatre in London resounding to the dubious 1980s hits "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"? It may sound preposterous, but in fact it's genius, especially when you acknowledge that Mr Bret Easton Ellis' novel American Psycho is a cult must-read, the show's director Mr Rupert Goold has had a string of hits in the West End and on Broadway for his captivating productions of Shakespeare classics, the score is by the composer behind the much-lauded musical Spring Awakening, and Mr Smith is one of his generation's most talented and versatile actors, first winning critical acclaim for his stage role in the award-winning play That Face.
But despite the numerous West End performances, starring roles in Christopher and his Kind and Party Animals, and a major role in the yet-to-be-released directorial debut of one Mr Ryan Gosling, the hop over in the public's imagination from time lord to singing psychopath must be a daunting one for Mr Smith. The 31-year-old from Northampton, England, doesn't deny it's a nerve-wracking prospect.
"It's a big leap over a strange chasm, with what appears as an endless black hole below," he says, eyes wide, while in the middle of a daily schedule of intense rehearsals, vocal coaching and morning gym sessions. "Although there are similarities, too: both characters are aliens in their universe, both consider what they wear to be relevant and important. I think one considers himself more of a hero than the other... and one is actually more of a hero than the other. Guess who!
It's a big leap over a strange chasm, with what appears as an endless black hole below
"What I enjoy about them both is the alien qualities, the otherness to everyone else around them; and what attracted me to Bateman was the lunatic - the mad serial killer, yes - but also the sociopath, the fantasist trying so hard to fit in that he goes on a killing spree... or does he? In many ways, his madness is his normality."
And how does he feel about standing on a stage singing 1980s tunes by Duran Duran and Tears for Fears mixed in with the original score by Mr Duncan Sheik?
"Well, Duncan's music was rocking so I though why not, but that's when I realised there's that great endless chasm... I've never sung, not a note, aghhh!," laughs Mr Smith, "but I love music, especially live music, but I had no idea how difficult it is being part of that event; so many of the other cast members do it so effortlessly, which I envy. As for the 1980s classics, they are exactly that: power chords and choruses that make you smile and bop. I think Duncan has captured the Goths and the 1980s, but also managed to make it contemporary as well, which was one of the draws to the piece."
Despite his fastidious attention to detail, unarguable hygiene, and superior style knowledge, there is obviously a downside to Mr Bateman: his tendency to viciously kill people, his unabashed misogyny, and his unerring devotion to the entire Whitney Houston oeuvre. But, as he is having to play the character every night on stage, which elements of Patrick Bateman is Mr Smith able to empathise with?
"Hmmm, well he's lost and trying to fit in, and he trains hard in the gym! And some of his bad music taste is endearing and he considers fashion important and values quality (albeit a yuppified and kind of conservative kind). But as an actor I think you also somehow must at least try to empathise with the torture and the madness and the sexism and that violent, violent mind of his, because you have to make it all live somehow and behave in a way that is befitting of it. So I try as best I can to empathise with most of him in order to understand his behaviour. Also, anyone who can describe every detail and specific brand of clothing on someone at first glance has one endearing quality at least! Plus he's a geek really... a bit like that doctor bloke. Hmmm."
MR PORTER is Production Sponsor of American Psycho: A New Musical Thriller, showing at the Almeida Theatre in London from 3 December 2013 to 25 January 2014. For more information, click here