“I didn’t realize how famous ‘famous’ was. Whoever took those pictures was in a car two blocks away hiding up a tree. We had no idea that they were there.” James Deen may not be the “legit” famous of his The Canyons co-star Lindsay–even if, at any given moment, there are five new GIFs of him plowing fellow porn-star Stoya on a loop posted on Tumblr by fan girls–but he’s penetrated the pop consciousness enough that paparazzi will snap pictures of Deen smoking cigarettes with Hollywood’s perennial tabloid-rousing starlet.

Deen, a 26-year-old porn star, GQ’s Well-Hung Boy Next Door, fresh from a Rolling Stone photoshoot, with “like 4,000″ adult films swinging under his belt that run the gamut from kissy vanilla to BDSM gang bang, was meeting director Paul Schrader. And he was nervous as hell.

“I was shaking. I thought I was going to puke. I was about to have a panic attack. I was petrified.”

The Canyons‘ screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis had enthusiastically recruited him through Twitter, but Paul Schrader told us he wasn’t sure. He needed some reassurance that Deen’s “porn guy” stigma wasn’t all he brought to the table. But Deen got the part. And he’s giddy.

“It was so cool,” he told me excitedly on the phone, cicadas filling what I presume is an excited pause. “…So cool. It was probably the first time I felt like a real actor. And not just because it was not leading to a sex scene. I hope it all works out. I haven’t signed any paperwork.”

Deen is taking acting lessons now, honing his abilities. He takes work seriously. When “James” was teenage Bryan the aspiring porn actor, he’d hone his performance skills with deliberate bouts of practice public sex at parties. Or so the suburban myth goes, anyway.

“I will definitely take time off to do this. My intention is that from the day we start rehearsing to the day that the movie is wrapped, I will be giving this movie my full attention.”

“How long have you gone not working?” I asked.

“Uh, I don’t. I’ve never really gone without working. My life is pretty much a perpetual vacation, so I never felt the need to take time off. This will be the first time in eight years.”

“How many days a week do you shoot?”

“Like, seven. Pretty much.”

That’s some work ethic. It’s evinced by his regular blog updates: photos of smiling, post-shoot costars and close-ups of their raw, worn holes. It’s like a diary of work accomplishments, a dutiful visual inventory of professional fucks, joyfully captioned with “Anal Double Penetration Gangbang Of Young So-And-So” and “James Deen and So-And-So Get It On In A Sexual Manner.” But conspicuously, no shots of Lindsay Lohan. (Or her holes.)

“I can definitely honestly say Lindsay Lohan and I are not having sex!”

Wouldn’t he tell me? “I think I would tell everybody.”

“I don’t know anything about her except for that she’s a really nice, down-to-earth, normal twenty-five-year-old girl. We went to a business dinner and she was very professional. She drank coffee and water. Then she had to call for a car because she couldn’t walk ten feet from the door because of the paparazzi.” Deen seems a little riled up, protective.

We probably shouldn’t worry about Lindsay. She’s safer with Deen than with Terry Richardson, despite whispered-about sex and nudity in The Canyons. “It’s all necessary to the story. This is not an adult film. We are not trying to arouse people. If someone does get aroused, well, it happens. It’s like American Psycho, Less Than Zero. It’s not graphic sex for the sake of graphic sex. In the script you don’t see anything like, ‘You see Tara turn around and flash her boobs!’”

It won’t be a porn film, although it shoots similarly quickly–mere days–you might think it was. It’s an experiment in form and fame with Deen crossing over into the mainstream, Lindsay into indie and giants Ellis and Schrader into ultimate scrappiness! Keep an open mind, ok?

“I’ve done movies in adult that had a higher budget than this one.”

Deen was readying for rehearsals later this week. “I like playing ‘crazy guy.’ That’s why I’m attracted to this role. Christian [Deen's character] is not a normal person–like any good main character in Bret Easton Ellis’s stories.” Even though he’s “used to being more involved,” he’s psyched about the role, about “real movie” acting. There was this one one time he played a filmmaker in some olde timey period piece of porn and got a lot of attention and compliments, but it didn’t “thrill” him. It wasn’t “crazy guy” enough, presumably. So, what’s his favorite character so far?

“I was a weird gambling addict who loses his house and my life was being threatened. I got to play ‘dude with problems,’ said goodbye to my wife, promised not to gamble anymore. And in the next scene I’m at some mobster’s house. I think I get killed. There’s mention of the fact that I’m floating in the river.” The sex scene? It’s with his character’s wife. (Aw.) “Then she stands up to the mobster and there’s a love tryst between them and two other people.” (Deen actually said “love tryst.” Aw.)

At this point, Deen seems less like the dom stringing up squirming “sluts” in Kink.com’s armory, and more like his Ryan Gosling of Porn moniker: the “outsider,” all sex-positive, recalling walking off a BDSM shoot because the girl wasn’t into being choked, slapped, or anything else the director wanted because “Sex isn’t something you do to somebody. It’s something you do with somebody.” (And then you publish pictures of their pounded assholes on your blog. Aw.)