Bret Easton Ellis Regrets Linking Huey Lewis and the News to 'American Psycho'

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho
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Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in a scene from the film 'American Psycho.'

Since Bret Easton Ellis made the protagonist of his 1991 novel American Psycho, Patrick Bateman, an investment banker serial killer with a fondness for Huey Lewis and the News, the association has taken on a life of its own. The 2000 film adaptation of the book, which was directed and co-written by Mary Harron and emphasized the black comic elements of the novel, immortalized the connection in an unhinged -- and now classic -- scene in which Bateman, played by Christian Bale, delivers a soliloquy on Lewis' music (which appeared in a different part of Ellis' book) shortly before dispatching a character played by Jared Leto with an ax while "Hip to Be Square" plays on the stereo. And last year, Lewis took things to a whole new level when he and Weird Al Yankovic shot a brilliant note-perfect parody of the scene for Funny or Die.

Thirty years after Lewis' Sports hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (on the week of June 30, 1984), Billboard spoke with Ellis about Bateman's Lewis love and the author admitted a tinge of regret that he linked Lewis to Bateman, who, after all symbolized, not the heart of rock'n'roll, but heartless capitalism.

A Look Back at 1984: Full Coverage

Although Lewis is most closely associated with American Psycho, in the novel, Bateman is revealed to be a fan of Phil Collins-era Genesis and Whitney Houston as well. "I was staying true to the time, 1986 or 1987, and I thought that those three pop acts would be in Bateman's headspace," Ellis says. "So it was in my headspace but I was not necessarily a big Huey Lewis fan. And I really did have to inform myself. I remember that month of listening to the Huey Lewis records and making notes for this kind of pompous, pseudo-intellectual term paper review that Patrick Bateman had in his head.

Huey Lewis Talks 'Sports' at 30

"In a lot of ways, it wasn't fun because I was getting to a point where being with Bateman wasn't fun. And you know, I ended up feeling bad for Batemen's loving attention toward the band, which, in itself is this kind of criticism of the culture. They weren't a favorite band -- I was much more a Bruce Springsteen person than a Huey Lewis person -- but I didn't think they deserved it. I liked them more than the implied criticism of them that's in the text. But by then, you know, the [plot] was in motion, things were set and away we go."

An edited version of this article first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of Billboard.