‘American Psycho’ Turns 20: Director Talks Christian Bale’s Preparation & Why Leonardo DiCaprio’s Teen Fans Made Him The Wrong Choice

American Psycho” is a film that took a bit of time to find its audience. But over the past two decades, the serial killer thriller has gone from being a bit of a box office disappointment to one of the biggest cult classics of the 2000s and a highlight in the career of its star, Christian Bale. And in a new interview with Little White Lies, “American Psycho” filmmaker Mary Harron talked about the movie, as well as why Leonardo DiCaprio was wrong for the lead role and how Bale turned out to be even better than she anticipated.

READ MORE: ‘American Psycho’ Cast Secretly Thought Christian Bale Was “The Worst Actor They’d Ever Seen”

The genesis of the “American Psycho” film adaptation started with Harron taking a stab at the script and then moving forward with development of the film, including casting. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, with Christian Bale being the actor that the filmmaker wanted more than anyone. But then the whole project was derailed.

Despite being convinced that Bale was the right choice for the role, Harron saw her involvement in the film sidelined for a bit when Leonardo DiCaprio became interested in the lead role.

“I didn’t agree with that, partly because he was such a big star but also because he had a teenage girl fanbase,” said the filmmaker. “I just didn’t think he was right for it – so I was fired from the movie for a while.”

READ MORE: The Essentials: The 25 Best Movies About Serial Killers

Ultimately, DiCaprio and the producers were at an impasse, with the actor envisioning a version of the film directed by Oliver Stone. Completely in contrast to the slightly off-beat film that Harron was working on. This disagreement led to the filmmaker rejoining the project.

“They couldn’t agree on the script, so they brought me back and I was able to cast Christian,” she explained.

And casting Christian Bale turned into a better idea than even she imagined. Harron described how she expected the actor to want to work out a bit before the role, but she wasn’t prepared for how seriously Bale took the physical transformation into Patrick Bateman.

READ MORE: The Essentials: Christian Bale’s Best Performances

“His physical preparation was beyond what I expected,” she said. “I thought he might have to visit the gym because Bateman works out, but he went through a complete physical transformation. He only ate grilled chicken.”

And, as they say, the rest is history. Bale ended up turning in one of his earliest iconic performances, personifying Patrick Bateman in a pitch-perfect way. Now, 20 years after it hit theaters, “American Psycho” is finally getting the recognition that it deserved back then.

Here are some highlights from the film: