Patrick Bateman is the serial killer at the center of American Psycho. He’s wealthy. He’s handsome. He works on Wall Street. He wears designer clothes. And he’s got the hottest girlfriend in town. Yet, he’s left wanting more—and his only way to the top is by killing those in his way.
As the cast of the new musical American Psycho readied for their first bow on Broadway, we asked them: Why are we constantly wanting more? Do we all have a bit of Bateman in us?
Benjamin Walker (Patrick Bateman)
“Well, it’s something that’s innately human. You’re never satisfied. It’s something you have to be taught: Live with what you have; work for something more; don’t take from other people. That’s something you don’t know as a child, and it’s something that’s part of the human condition. And, in this case, Patrick Bateman doesn’t understand that.”
Heléne Yorke (Evelyn Williams)
“If you read this book, [Patrick Bateman is] constantly being called another name by other people because they’re all basically the same person, so if you’re in an environment where you feel like: You’re going to the office, you see the same people, you do the right things, you eat at the right restaurants, you have the right girlfriend—feeling trapped in that is easy to do, and it doesn’t have to be a Wall Street job; it can be anything. And [people will] have a fantasy life. For many people, their fantasy life is that they go off and they wear designer clothes or in their fantasy life, they watch Sex and the City, and that’s their escape. For Patrick Bateman, his escape is that he murders and decapitates people to Huey Lewis and the News.”
Drew Moerlein (Paul Owen)
“It’s actually funny—I was just talking about this at lunch today. It’s what me and many actors have to check themselves on—[on] a daily, weekly, monthly basis. We work and work and work to get a job. Once we get that job, we’ve sort of achieved that level of success or we achieved the dream—the goal of what we wanted to do. And then once you get that job, you all of a sudden go, ‘Well, what’s my new goal? What’s my new dream? I must achieve that.‘ Whereas what I need to do, and what I [need to] focus on doing is living in that moment because I did achieve that; I need to embrace that experience. And that’s what Patrick Bateman lacks. He cannot see that he has achieved it. He looks at someone like Paul Owen and says, ‘That suit is six months newer. His Walkman has continuous play, and mine only has pause, fast-forward and rewind.‘ It’s the constant evolution of striving for something greater than you have when you really have everything in the world that you need.”
Jennifer Damiano (Jean)
“I think Patrick is deeply insecure and, as you saw in the card scene before the number, every time he gets that way it’s because something has happened to make him feel less than or make him feel bad about himself. And, in this industry, especially—[and in] the world right now it’s so easy with social media to just feel like, ‘Am I good enough? Am I doing all the right things? That person has more than me; are they happier than me?‘ It’s hard. But, yeah, I think we all fall a little bit into that trap—but hopefully have enough of a conscience and people around us that love us to not become a serial killer!”
Alice Ripley (Mrs. Bateman/Mrs. Wolfe/Svetlana)
“There’s something about that [notion of]: ‘Fine, whatever it takes to get to the top‘ that kind of makes a city. When we’re literally living on top of each other—it’s not really a natural thing to do, but we learn how to do [things such as ride] the train. And, when somebody is not doing the train or the sidewalk the right way, you become Patrick Bateman for a split second, right? Don’t we? As New Yorkers? Like, ‘What are you doing standing on the corner looking at the sky? Get out of my way. I’m going to the store. You’re in my path.‘ That’s Patrick if you turn it all the way up… I think that he’s looking for intimacy. He needs to be penetrated, and he wants to delve into somebody, and the only way he can do that is with his ax.”
Duncan Sheik (Music and Lyrics)
“Rupert [Goold] says that all of us who work on this show have a little bit of Patrick Bateman in each of us. And I do. I know that I’ve had times in my life where there’s been a lot of money floating around and a lot of girls and a lot of crazy behavior going on, and you do kind of get to this place where it’s never satisfying. It’s never satisfying, and you need a bigger hit of whatever it is—[whatever is triggering] that brain chemical. It’s just this insane hamster wheel that you get on, and [Patrick is] a victim of circumstance—he got on that wheel very early because he’s really handsome and he’s really ostensibly smart, and he’s very wealthy and has all this stuff, so what do you do to keep the entertainment coming? For him it just went way, way beyond normal human behavior.”
Rupert Goold (Director)
“I think we live in a society that wants us to consume more, and that’s not me being socialist about it; I just think we culturally are hardwired that way. I think, dare I say, people feel more and more sexually… Pornography is much more available than it was in the time the book was written, and people have much looser sexual relationships now, and good on them. I’m all for Grindr and Tinder and all these things. But, of course there can be an excess, and I think that’s true in big cities like New York and London. Hedonism is available, particularly if you have money, and people can fall down the rabbit hole on that in all sorts of ways. I think Bateman is somebody who goes way further than 99.9 percent of us ever would, but we all know what that feels like.”