“Do they like biting lips? Do they like using more tongue?”

To play former gay porn mogul Brent Corrigan, it was Garrett Clayton’s job to find out. So the 25-year-old ex-Disney star probed those very questions while poring over videos of the notorious twink teasing the camera at just 17, when Corrigan starred in a throng of high-profile porn videos that led to his storied, controversial adult-film legacy.

Corrigan’s past is the lurid centerpiece titillating every juicy frame of director Justin Kelly’s sexy and scandalous “King Cobra,” embodied by Clayton and his hypnotic come-hither gaze. Christian Slater plays gay porn producer Bryan Kocis (renamed Stephen in the film), who gets tangled in a mess of controversy and murder after illegally jump-starting Corrigan’s porn career. James Franco, who co-produced the project, sustains his oft-onscreen queerness, starring as a rival producer.

Read on for the ex-Mouseketeer’s thoughts on Corrigan’s criticism of “King Cobra” and the vision Clayton had for his contractually agreed-upon butt shot.

How much trepidation did you have taking on someone as controversial – in the porn world at least – as Brent Corrigan?

I didn’t know what to expect at first because you don’t know if you’re going to have a team of people who will be really respectful and take care of you or a group of people who are there to exploit you and make money off of how good you’ll be. I couldn’t have asked for more, especially jumping into such a controversial subject.

What was your process for embodying Brent’s mannerisms during the porn scenes?

You want to watch someone’s work and study the way they’re into somebody or not. How do they kiss? Do they bite? Do they like biting lips? Do they like using more tongue? Are they more aggressive in their work? Does he play the victim? I tried to look at all those things. And even watching that YouTube channel that he wanted to have for a minute – those videos were interesting to watch just because there are little things in there too. How is he when he speaks to his audience? What’s his body language like when he’s talking about something he’s comfortable with versus uncomfortable with?

At one of the film festivals somebody asked me and Justin what our favorite video of his was, and even though mine doesn’t sound as exciting, it’s the more fascinating one. It’s the first video he did with Bryan where he’s lying in the lawn. Nobody knew at that time that he was 17, and I was just surprised that there are so many sites that still have that video online. It’s crazy. And to see him as a 17-year-old doing this, and the fact that I can find it online – I literally just typed in “Brent Corrigan first video” and a bunch of different websites came up. I just think it was fascinating to watch somebody at that age doing what they’re doing. To me, that was the most interesting piece of work because, I mean, how could it not be?

Christian Slater, Garrett Clayton, Keegan Allen and James Franco star in 'King Cobra.' (---)

Christian Slater, Garrett Clayton, Keegan Allen and James Franco star in ‘King Cobra.’ (Photos courtesy IFC)

How was your nudity contract established for this film?

I spoke to Justin about what I would agree to do, and it was: If you discuss with me first and I can understand logically why the nudity is a sexual act that can promote the plot in this scene, then I’ll do it. When I’m in the shower, it’s a sign he’s becoming comfortable with his sexuality. The montage is showing him becoming a star. At the end, I have my butt shot and, funny enough, that was my idea because Justin and me kept talking, saying, “When are we going to do the butt shot?” because (Corrigan is) known for his butt. And I was watching and I said, “Why don’t we make him getting the tattoo like ownership of self and being able to do what he wants to do with his body? If we show his ass at the end and we see there’s a tattoo on it, now he can do what he wants to do with his body and he has control over his life and where he’s going.”

Because you’re playing gay in this movie, is there pressure to acknowledge your own sexuality? And how do you react to people who criticize you for not doing so?

I mean, they probably would feel a lot differently if people were calling them and saying, “So tell me: What you do in your bedroom every day?” This is my job. And I’m happy to promote my work. And I’m happy to stand up for things I believe in. If people can’t see the positivity in that, then I think that’s up to them. You can have Mother Teresa giving food out and somebody will find something negative to say.

I moved out to LA to have a career where I got to play characters and focus on work and do all these awesome things, and I’m getting to do that now. I just don’t think it’s pertinent to talk about my personal life. I don’t think it adds to the work; it just distracts from it.

I’m supportive of an open-minded lifestyle and letting people do what they want to do with their lives, so it’s nice to be able to do another, different type of role. Acting is about stepping out of body and getting to see different lives and experience different things, and I got to do that in this movie.

One thing I even took away from this: I gained a lot more sympathy for people who work in the adult industry. A lot of times society is so harsh on people who do work in porn, and they’re so judged and scrutinized, and yet they’re so accepted because porn drives the internet, and people watch it so consistently, and it’s a multi-billionaire dollar industry. When you’re done working in it, though, people shun you. They just treat people who work in this industry poorly, and yet they’re watching them alone in their bedroom, supporting them. You can’t pick and choose. You either are open-minded, or you’re not.

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