Is American Psycho Based On A True Story? Was Tom Cruise The Inspiration?

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Patrick Bateman
Patrick Bateman

Is American Psycho Based On A True Story? Based on the 1991 book of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho depicts Patrick Bateman, a New York investment banker who also leads a brutal double life as a serial killer. American Psycho has a cult following that is still strong more than 20 years after its release because of Christian Bale’s iconic portrayal as Patrick Bateman.

In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman engages his most violent desires, living out his sick and horrific fantasies without interfering with his comfortable existence as a Wall Street investment banker. Ellis himself thought that the literary Bateman’s spiral into depravity and real madness was too frightening for cinema, so it should come as no surprise that the movie was just as controversial as Ellis’ book.

In addition to Jared Leto playing Bateman’s business adversary Paul Allen, Reese Witherspoon plays Bateman’s fiance, and Willem Dafoe portrays a local investigator in the movie. Because of how it depicts yuppie life and consumerism, American Psycho has received widespread praise and developed a cult following. But the question is, “Is American Psycho Based On A True Story?”.

American Psycho Plot

The story follows Patrick Bateman, a wealthy guy who is engaged to Evelyn, and it took place in 1987. Like his coworkers, he enjoys showing off his money by using his credit card. One fateful night, when he watches his colleague Allen display his business card, he becomes jealous. He kills a man and his dog because he is so jealous. Furthermore, he murders Allen and stages the crime, so it appears that he left the nation as soon as he had the chance.

Is American Psycho Based On A True Story
Is American Psycho Based On A True Story

A cop questions Bateman about Allen’s disappearance. Two prostitutes are later spotted exiting his home covered in blood after he invites them over. When he returns to work and discovers Luis’ business card, his feelings of jealousy are reignited. He attempts to kill him, but Jean perceives his attempts as sexual lust, and Bateman flees. In his rage, he decides to kill a model instead and invites his secretary, intending to kill both of them. But a note from his fiancée Evelyn interrupts their evening.

According to the officer he previously spoke with, he is no longer being investigated as a possible suspect in Allen’s disappearance. Before telling Evelyn that he wants to break off their engagement, Bateman invites 2 of his female friends to his house using Allen’s address and kills them both there. Bateman is sought after by the police after killing yet another woman, but he is able to escape them by blowing up their gas tanks.

After killing many people while running, Bateman enters a workplace that is later discovered to not be his and leaves a confession for his attorney. The next day, he believes Allen’s flat to be the scene of a crime, yet instead, it is kept clean and on sale. When Bateman walks off to lunch with his employees, the realtor claims that the flat is not Allen’s, and Jeans discover details about the murders in Bateman’s journal.

When Bateman meets with his lawyer, he once more discloses everything, but the lawyer dismisses it as a joke and claims to have only recently met Allen. He claims that his confessions haven’t meant anything because he is aware that he will never be held accountable for his actions.

Is American Psycho Based On A True Story?

To give you a simple answer to the question, “Is American Psycho Based On A True Story?”: No. However, there has been much speculation over the source of one of the most well-known fictional serial killers ever. Christian Bale supposedly based Tom Cruise, another all-American psycho, on Bateman for his film adaption (more on this further). But Bale also perfectly captured several of Bundy’s well-known tics.

Before writing American Psycho, author Bret Easton Ellis read a number of books about Bundy, and both the novel and the movie are filled with Bundy references. Some of Bateman’s imagined crimes, such as the horrifying murder of prostitutes, closely resembled those committed by Bundy. At first impression, both men were expected to be attractive and charismatic. Fun fact: After Ted Bundy, Donald Trump was Patrick Bateman’s special hero.

American Psycho Card Scene
American Psycho Card Scene

American Psycho Inspiration From Tom Cruise

In American Psycho, Bateman’s unsettling attitude and extreme mental reactions are unsettling and surprisingly realistic. Christian Bale nevertheless chose to base Bateman after a real person to give the role some realism despite his overdone portrayal. Instead of a serial killer, Tom Cruise, a popular actor, was used as inspiration.

Patrick Bateman frequently wears a wide grin and speaks in an artificially joyful tone when he is not being serious or evil. It almost seems as though he isn’t human but rather someone who is observing people to see how they would need to act in certain circumstances. This was precisely the vibe that American Psycho director Mary Harron sought for Patrick Bateman, and she and Christian Bale had extensive conversations about how they wanted him to act.

Christian Bale Was Inspired By Tom Cruise’s Interviews

Director said Bale had contacted her one day and said he had gotten ideas from watching Tom Cruise speak on David Letterman. Harron said that Bale was genuinely surprised by Cruise’s enthusiasm and that he had a “really passionate friendliness with nothing behind the eyes.” He believed that it would organically fit into the crazy business world of American Psycho, and that idea was proven to be true.

The depiction Christian Bale provided is supported by a large number of online interviews. Tom Cruise has a tendency to be very intense, and his exaggerated motions and huge, corny grin give the impression that he’s always happy. It’s difficult to tell, but some individuals, like Patrick Bateman, think this is forced, while others think it’s sincere and enthusiastic. In any case, there is no denying that his behavior is a little out of the ordinary, which is why Christian Bale thought it would work well in American Psycho.

Patrick Bateman's Mornig Routine
Patrick Bateman’s Morning Routine

Tom Cruise’s Mannerisms Were Used By Christian Bale Used For Patrick Bateman

There are indications of Tom Cruise’s personality in Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, despite the fact that he is plainly far more aggressive than Tom Cruise. For instance, when Bateman is preparing to murder a drunken coworker while bringing him home, Cruise’s trademark broad smile and eyes come to mind. And similar to his Letterman interview, Patrick Bateman speaks passionately and forcefully about everything he discusses.

Despite the similarities, it’s safe to conclude that American Psycho wasn’t intended to compare Tom Cruise to a serial killer and that Christian Bale doesn’t personally dislike him. Although many individuals who have worked with Cruise claim he is one of the nicest persons they have ever encountered, other audiences dislike Cruise because of his association with the Scientology movement.

Were Murders In American Psycho Real Or Just Bateman’s Imagination?

There are normally two ways to understand this, and while I don’t think either is “wrong,” I think one of them is fairer. The first interpretation of the film, and the one I heard the most when it first came out, was that almost everything that occurred in it was the product of Bateman’s mind. Given that Bateman is undoubtedly mentally ill, it is reasonable to believe that everything that happened here was a creation of his imagination, even if he isn’t a murderer.

Murders In American Psycho Real
Murders In American Psycho Real

Some people seem to think that the film was one continuous hallucination based on the drawings in Bateman’s book, the fact that Paul Allen’s apartment was clean, and the absence of any mention of the dead bodies Bateman is said to have left behind. According to this belief, Bateman didn’t actually commit any murders. He only daydreamed about it, and such daydreams are depicted in his drawings. Another part that individuals think supports this idea is a scene in which Bateman shoots a police car, and the car explodes, prompting Bateman to look at his pistol confused.

In real life, cars don’t explode when you fire them; this is why Bateman was looking confused. It’s okay if this is how you interpret the ending. I believe there isn’t really a wrong answer, as I previously stated. My interpretation, though, differs slightly.

Were The Murder Real?

I think that Bateman killed all of those folks. All of those actions didn’t just happen in his head; they all happened. But what about Paul Allen’s flat, you could be thinking. That has an answer, which makes the entire story even more frightening. It is true to say that Bateman left dead bodies inside the flat. The building’s owner, however, kept it quiet, got rid of the remains, and is currently attempting to rent it out covertly because the apartment is such a crucial part of the New York property market.

Even though it’s clear that some of what happens in the movie is in Bateman’s imagination, the killings do happen (such as in the Feed Me a Stray Cat sequence). I like that view since it appears to relieve Bateman of accountability by claiming that the entire movie is a product of his imagination. It declares, “Nothing terrible happened; everything is fine!” And that seems like cheating to me.

Also Read: American Psycho Ending Explained

By Mohsin Nakade

Yo, I'm Mohsin from Mumbai. Here I like to write about Movies, TV Shows, and mostly Superhero stuff. I love movies (Spiderman), Series (GOT), Anime (AOT), and Music (Zayn & One Direction). If you are the same then we can be Besto Friendo and you can reach out to me at

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