This article was featured in One Great Story, New Yorks reading recommendation newsletter. Sign up here to get it nightly.
Simon Rex will be appearing with Red Rocket director Sean Baker at Vulture Festival in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 13 to discuss the film with our critic Alison Willmore. Itll be a good time; you can get tickets here.
Come to the desert. Past the rock gardens and the suntanned retirees. Past the looming peaks of the San Bernardinos and the windmills that shine like sci-fi sentinels. Past the hippie chicken farms, the ammo shops, the CBD emporiums. Past the point where the pavement stops and the road turns to sand. Here, you will find the man who made My Dick.
For two decades, Simon Rex had been on a Gump-like tour of the least prestigious jobs in Hollywood: male model, MTV VJ, sitcom actor, Scary Movie doofus, white rapper, and Vine star. He partied with Paris Hilton when she was the most famous person in America and Charlie Sheen when he was. As you might guess, this was not the worlds most sustainable career path. Things slowed down for a good ten years. Looking back on this period, he thinks of a lesson a meditation instructor once taught him. When you get a pie in the face, enjoy it. Dont play the victim. Taste it. Smile, he says, miming pedagogically. Thats a good pie. Not to get all Tears of a Clown on you, but he has tasted a lot of pies.
Rex lives off the grid in Joshua Tree now, in a studio made from two shipping containers on a five-acre slice of the Mojave Desert. Having lived in cities his entire life, he felt exhausted by humanity. Im not trying to be a recluse, he says. Im hypersensitive. I just feel things too much. He bought the property in February 2020. It was supposed to be just a weekend getaway, but, well, you know what happened. The vibes got bad in Los Angeles, so Rex sold most of his belongings and moved in full time. He had planned to rent the place out as an Airbnb but has since decided against it: I didnt want strangers having sex in my bed.
It wasnt just the pandemic that sent Rex into the desert. The truth is he was tired. Of calling his agent, wondering if there was anything out there. Of clawing for any opportunity. Of sitting around hung-over, doing the math on how long he could get by until the next paycheck. Of taking whatever gig came up, even if he hated it, then hating himself for hating it because how many people would kill to be in his place? He had hit a rough patch, but hed had a good run, reinvented himself several times over. Still, Los Angeles can embalm you. Did he really want to be that washed-up middle-aged guy, forever convinced that this pilot season would be his big comeback? Instead, he would move to the middle of nowhere and see what came next.
On the advice of a buddy, he buried 30 days worth of food and bought a gun. The two of them did tactical training like a real-life Call of Duty. He was suddenly roughing it in the high desert with no heat and no AC. He had only two goals each day: Stay warm and eat. There was something pure about it. Like, this is my commute, he says on the drive up, gesturing to the prehistoric landscape. Hes dressed in the local style in a weathered white T-shirt and fancy Crocs. Any time I go to L.A., I start feeling my shoulders tense up. When Im up here, I immediately whoosh. This place heals you. Every single night, youre in a different Salvador Dal painting. Its fucking magical.
Then one day, the phone rang. The man on the other end, director Sean Baker, was offering him a starring role in a movie called Red Rocket. It was the story of an aging porn star in search of a fresh start. For many reasons, Rex was the only man in Hollywood who could have played the part, so its appropriate that Red Rocket has given him a reset button too. Instead of weathering a societal collapse, Rex has spent the past few months jetting to international film festivals, being lauded by the giants of cinema, and earning Oscar buzz. A year ago, Rex seemed, even to himself, a relic of millennial celebrity culture; now, like a vintage armchair, he has been plucked out and reupholstered.
Its the psychology of, like, if you go out with a rubber in your pocket and think youre gonna get laid, it doesnt happen, he says. Its only when you surrender that things happen.
Rex is not just his looks, but his story wont make sense without talking about them. Simon was like fully smolderingly handsome, says the record producer Mark Ronson, who modeled with him in the 90s. Young Simon had a vulpine stare, piercing green eyes, and abs for days. When, during a guest stint on Felicity, he fixed his gaze on Keri Russell and told her with the utmost sincerity that he wanted to sketch her, you could understand why all thoughts of Ben and Noel flew right out from under her curls. And he has aged well. He doesnt have the baby face anymore, but the wrinkles have seasoned him.
In Rexs narrative of his life, he has been a leaf in the wind opportunities come floating out of the sky, and he accepts them without a hint of guile or strategy. At 18, fresh out of high school and living in Oakland, Rex started seeing an aspiring model who indirectly opened the doors to a new life. It was a crazy time, he says. He was attending community college and working at a potato-sack factory. I went to a rave in San Francisco, and I met this beautiful girl. I was enamored with her beauty because where I lived there werent a lot of models. Her mom had a Cesarean; when she was born, they cut her out and left her with a really big scar, which was hot. Talking to Rex is a bit like riding a conversational roller coaster. One moment youre right side up, the next youre on a wild loop-de-loop tangent, but you always get back to where you started. (He has been diagnosed with ADHD, which he prefers to keep unmedicated: I would rather be in my crazy-weird brain.)
He dropped everything and moved in with her. We got an apartment in Hollywood, her 2-year-old sons calling me Daddy I was in way over my head, he says. Modeling wasnt happening for the girlfriend, but all of a sudden, it was happening for him. I would drive her to castings. Im sitting with her son on my lap, and the casting director comes out saying, Whos he? Shes like, Oh, hes not a model. Thats my boyfriend. Theyre like, He has a good look for this job we need. The next thing you know, I was on a flight to Milan. I got her dream, and we didnt last.
Was he a good model? I dont know how you could be a bad one, unless you just didnt show up, he says. Thats what I didnt like about it you just stand there. Its boring. You have no soul. One day, another male model couldnt make a rehearsal at MTV, so the agency sent Rex instead and, wow, now he was a VJ. I said to them, I have no music experience, no journalism experience, no television-hosting experience. They said, Perfect, you got the job. Next thing you know, Im on live TV with a mic in my hand. Rex was not a natural interviewer; he spent much of the workday stoned. At a Tommy Hilfiger event, he bonked Mary J. Blige in the mouth with his microphone, prompting a death glare from the diva. But being a handsome fuckup was in no way a professional hindrance at MTV. I immediately wanted to protect his goofy ass, fellow VJ Kennedy wrote in her memoir. Simon was a baby, but a beautiful baby with a great heart and a huge penis. (More on that later.) Our female viewers love him, an exec told Newsweek at the time. If you were watching MTV in the mid-90s, there was a good chance Rex was your first crush.
Gus Van Sant liked what he saw too. The director thought Rex might have the right vibe to play a bully who gets beat up by Matt Damons character in Good Will Hunting and invited him to audition: I get there, Ive never acted in my life. Im reading with Matt Damon. I start reading the lines robotically, and he says, Simon, I have to stop you. This is one of the worst auditions Ive ever seen. Still, Van Sant spotted a seed of talent and sent him to acting class. The picture of him in my minds eye is storklike, Ichabod Crane, recalls Rexs acting coach, Anthony Abeson. He was not low energy, nor was his presence neutral. He was irreverent, anarchic but always sweet.
Rex recalls this period as the best years of his life. At the dawn of the Giuliani era, New Yorks downtown model scene was merging with the hip-hop scene, and Rex was in the middle of it all. Youre bulletproof because youre 24 years old and you could drink all night, get up the next day, and handle your shit, he says. Then, in 1997, MTV fired Rex and two other VJs. Declining ratings had thrown the station into one of its Why arent we playing more videos? panics, and the bosses, as Time magazine put it, were looking for an authenticity that veejays like Simon Rex, hottie though he may be, just couldnt deliver. This by itself was not a terrible trauma, but around the same time, one of Rexs buddies committed suicide in his apartment. So he moved to L.A. and accepted a lot of cash from the WB to let it try to turn him into a TV star. He had built-in recognition from MTV and the right look, which is to say he looked a lot like every other guy on the WB. The network gave him a holding deal. They were throwing money around, he says. They would give me six figures to not audition for NBC. After that arc on Felicity, he played a bartender with a surprisingly large vocabulary in a Friends knockoff called Jack & Jill, then Jennie Garths characters boyfriend on What I Like About You. His big scene in the pilot was wrestling with a mattress. (Inexplicably allowed to lurk is Simon Rex, the current comedy killer, sniffed the Chicago Tribune.) Whenever he wanted a gig real bad, he would get a good nights sleep, study his lines, comb his hair, and never get it. Then when Id walk into the room hung-over, didnt give a fuck, disheveled, I booked the job every fucking time.
The early aughts are not a hallowed time in American memory, but they were Rexs time. He joined the Scary Movie franchise, a proudly stupid series of films in which he first appeared as George, a dim but good-hearted hunk who couldnt stop falling out of windows. The character became a fan favorite, and the series kept contriving ways to bring Rex back, even after George died in a tragic boxing accident. There was a fundamental guilelessness to Rex in all these parts: His characters might accidentally don a Klan hood or get into a fistfight with a corpse, but they went into everything with the best intentions. Theres no pretense to Simon, no phoniness, says David Zucker, writer-director of Scary Movie 3. He knows where the joke is, and hes smart enough not to wink.
With his newfound financial security, Rex bought a house in Laurel Canyon and, by his own account, did not have to work particularly hard to get by. The rest of the time, he partied hard. Through the L.A. club circuit, he became buds with Paris Hilton. Shed come out to the club on roller skates. Shed roll up to guys and be like, Youre so hot. (Tabloid canon says they were dating, but Rex maintains they were just friends who held hands sometimes. Photographic evidence indicates they were maybe more.) Gossip pages spotted him with JC Chasez, Joe Francis, the cast of Laguna Beach. From this scene sprung his side hustle: Through his friend Adrien Brody, the Pianist himself, Rex learned how to make beats. Soon he started rapping with a flow inspired by his teenage idol Too $hort. Dubbing himself Dirt Nasty, Rex hooked up with indie emcees Mickey Avalon and Andre Legacy to form a trio that paired lo-fi beats with ironically over-the-top comedy rap. At first, it was just for fun. Rex would burn CD-Rs of their tracks and hand them out to A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio at clubs. Then Avalon got signed to Interscope, and their track My Dick (My dick, size of a pumpkin/Your dick, look like Macaulay Culkin) went viral in the Myspace era. I dont know if this is a bad thing to say, but it was rap music for white people, he says. Suburban teens could get a vicarious thrill from the lyrics while at the same time taking comfort in the fact that it was all just a joke.
This era, Rex says wistfully, was the last time nightlife was fun, the time right before camera phones ruined everything: People standing on a table, getting up and genuinely having a good time, before youd get busted and tagged at the location. There wouldve been a lot more footage of me being a total wasted asshole. He is reluctant to talk too openly about those days when a recorder is running. One, he doesnt want to throw anyone under the bus. And two, he doesnt want to sound like hes bragging. But he tells me two stories. The reason hes more comfortable sharing these, it seems, is because theyre ones where the joke is about him looking like a douche. (When you look like Rex, it is sometimes safer to turn yourself into the punch line before someone else does.) The first came when he was feeling himself so much he went out and bought a Porsche. One day, he was driving down Wilshire, high and a little hung-over, when he caught a glimpse of himself in a reflection. He wanted to throw up: Jesus, look at that asshole. Disgusted, he returned it and got himself a nice, boring Audi.
The other story was from his time hanging out at the Playboy Mansion before he got banned for letting his friends get in with his ID. Theres no way Im going to not sound like a dick saying this, he begins. It was the middle of winter in L.A., and, in a sign that Rex sometimes tried a little more than he lets on, he did something he had never done before or since: He got a spray tan. Then, miracle of miracles, he wound up going home with the Playmate of the Year. Talk about an ego boost, right? The next morning, the bed looked like a murder scene. All the orange had stained her sheets. She woke me up, going, What the fuck? I had to sheepishly put my clothes on while her sheets were ruined. I went from being the man to crawling out of there like a loser.
Clockwise from top left: Rex interviewing Tupac Shakur for MTV (1996); at a Grammys party with Paris Hilton (2008); in Scary Movie3 (2003); performing as Dirt Nasty in Miami (2007). Photo: Simon Rex/Youtube (Shakur); Mirrorpix/Alamy (Hilton); Dimension/Everett Collection (Scary Movie 3); Donna Ward/Getty Images (Dirt Nasty).
Clockwise from top left: Rex interviewing Tupac Shakur for MTV (1996); at a Grammys party with Paris Hilton (2008); in Scary Movie3 (2003); performin... more Clockwise from top left: Rex interviewing Tupac Shakur for MTV (1996); at a Grammys party with Paris Hilton (2008); in Scary Movie3 (2003); performing as Dirt Nasty in Miami (2007). Photo: Simon Rex/Youtube (Shakur); Mirrorpix/Alamy (Hilton); Dimension/Everett Collection (Scary Movie 3); Donna Ward/Getty Images (Dirt Nasty).
Eventually, the Dirt Nasty persona became a poisoned chalice. The character was supposed to be satirical, Simons party-boy lifestyle turned up to 11. But while his fans might not have taken tracks like Baby Dick or Animal Lover at face value, they did come to expect the real Rex to be as much of a flagrant asshole as the guy he played onstage. Touring played havoc with his relationships. Imagine dating Dirt Nasty seeing women throwing panties at you, knocking on the backstage door to come over and have a threesome, he says. I wouldnt want that. Back in Hollywood, his window was closing. His agents would call him about an audition only to find he was on the road in Cincinnati. Then those phone calls stopped. They were like, Sorry, bro. Youve been gone.
He was brought back for Scary Movie V, but even though Rex was one of the leads, he wasnt on the poster. Memories are short in Hollywood, says Zucker. The studio considered him no longer a name. He subsisted on indie movies, shitty comedies, web series. In 2016, TMZ captured video of Rex standing outside a Sunset Strip club in sweatpants as a cavalcade of young women unsuccessfully attempted to flirt with him through the universal language of cleavage. To watch it is to witness a man having a midlife crisis in real time: Rex looks almost painfully sober, as though the distance between 42 and 22 is bearing down on him. Since turning 40, he had been in an existential tailspin. He was a grown man with gray hair whose longest relationship had been with his business manager. He quit smoking weed and found he had all these emotions he had no idea how to deal with. I was trying to hold the mirror up to myself, and thats a fucking scary thing, he says. Am I really just this guy whos a performative douchebag in L.A.? I spent a lot of fucking nights staring at the ceiling, wondering what Im doing with my life. He enjoyed his freedom, but he was learning the downside of a life with few attachments. Should he have gotten married and had kids? Pursued a real career? His days of getting pleasure from partying were long behind him. His fake friends had disappeared when his career dried up, and his real friends had settled down and werent hanging out as much anymore; he got the sense their wives considered him a bad influence. You think you got friends, he says, but at the end of the day, youre really just alone.
One thing was clear: Rapping to teenagers about doing drugs wasnt cute anymore. Actors, especially male ones, may be able to stay relevant in middle age, but Rex didnt think musicians could. Theres something sad about the old rock star trying to be young and sexy, he says. You cant age gracefully into that, at least not as Dirt Nasty. He wanted to give it up, but the gigs were his main source of income. (He had gotten into Vine as a lark, but he never made any money from that.) What else could he do?
His own mind was exhausting him, always running a million miles a minute. He tried everything to get it to slow down. You know how many times Ive gone to, like, yoga, meditation workshops, self-help books? None of them really worked. Certain people are just wired the way they are, he says. Rex had been exposed to the California New Age scene from a young age and learned quickly that some of it was legit and some of it was bullshit. Both elements are in his blood. His father, Paul Cutright, is a breath-work coach. My dads the real deal, Rex says, not like the influencers who are just jumping on a trend. He has been doing it for 40 years, since the days of alternative psychiatrist Stanislav Grof. Rex and his dad were never that close Cutright walked out when Rex was little but about three years ago, the two of them had a psychedelic experience together, and his dad started telling him about his own father, a spiritual leader who, Rex was led to believe, was not always the most faithful shepherd of his flock. Thats what happens, Rex says. Anyone whos like, I have all the answers, bust out your credit card, get them away from me.
A safer source of wisdom, he says, is bumper stickers. BE WATER. STAY IN THE MOMENT. RUN TO THOSE WHO SEEK THE TRUTH, AND RUN FROM THOSE WHO CLAIM TO HAVE FOUND IT. Its corny New Age shit, but theres a lot of truth to them. Whenever he gets stressed out about the turbulence of the modern world, he thinks of something his dad told him at the height of the pandemic. He said, Were in the moment between the caterpillar and the butterfly. On the other side of this, theres an awakening. But right now, everyones in the uncomfortable sludgy phase.
Rex as Mikey Saber in Red Rocket. Photo: A24
The dream of the 90s is still alive in Sean Bakers filmography: small budgets, few stars, no compromises. His movies follow characters on the margins immigrants, sex workers, hustlers of all stripes and often feature first-time actors. (Talk about a fucking avatar of purity, the filmmaker Kel ONeill once told me.) But he doesnt make those desaturated indies where people in poverty sit around and scowl; his movies sparkle with joy and life. Baker broke out with 2015s Tangerine, a Christmas picaresque shot entirely on the iPhone 5S. His follow-up, 2017s The Florida Project, is a neorealist gem about a rambunctious 6-year-old living in a motel on the outskirts of Disney World. It appeared on many critics year-end lists and earned an Oscar nomination for Willem Dafoe. Crucially, it was also the start of Bakers relationship with A24, the indie studio behind films like Moonlight, Lady Bird, and Uncut Gems, whose label has become a byword for quality among discerning cinephiles.
Bakers next A24 project, Red Rocket, was inspired by research he had done on the adult-film industry a few years earlier. It follows Mikey Saber, a down-and-out porn star who returns to his Texas hometown and winds up grooming a local high-schooler. The characters a sleazeball, constantly spouting off about the comeback hes sure he deserves. But Baker wanted him to have a queasy likability: Members of the audience should root for Mikey against their better judgment, even while theyre slowly realizing he may be the worst person alive. Hes not a million miles from guys Rex knew in L.A., the land of narcissistic sociopaths. Or, for that matter, Dirt Nasty himself. Ive been around enough ridiculous, macho I dont know if toxic masculinity is the right word, but I grew up around so much of that sort of thing, he says. Its not like Im playing a professor at Harvard Law. I could speak this language.
Rex has put a lot of effort over the years into not being an asshole like Mikey. Hes a horrible person who will do whatever it takes to get to the top, he says. Id like to think Im not. Unless Im completely delusional. Consider the time the British tabloids offered him $70,000 to lie and say hed slept with Meghan Markle, with whom he had guest-starred in an episode of a UPN sitcom. The same month, a vape company offered him $20,000 to do an ad campaign. He was at the end of his rope, living in a guesthouse in Venice, and could have really used the money. He turned them both down. Now all he has is the memory of doing the right thing plus a handwritten letter from the duchess thanking him for letting the world know what she was up against.
Baker is about the same age as Rex and had been tracking his career since the 90s. He loved following the kooky comedy skits Rex did on Vine. They proved he was a survivor. I was like, Lets stop pretending this guys not talented, Baker says. Its not just the ability to improvise; its the ability to improvise and make people laugh, which I find to be genius. By happenstance, Bakers sister and Rex had a mutual friend, so it was simply a matter of calling him on the phone, having him submit a tape, and then offering him the part. Rex drove straight to Galveston.
In Hollywood physics, a star is born through a precise combination of actor, role, and moment. Think Bradley Cooper in The Hangover or Channing Tatum in Magic Mike. Rex is not wrong to think Red Rocket could be that vehicle for him. Like all the best star turns, his performance is a mix of things we already knew about him and things we had no idea he could do. Mikey is a vision of early-aughts raunch culture grown desperate in middle age, but his ugliness is always masked with a twinge of humor. In the films most painful scene, he reveals his true self in a fumbling, inarticulate monologue. The horrible awkwardness of it, the way it sinks into your stomach, then keeps going? Thats all Rex.
Mikeys vulnerability is Rexs, too. I dont know if I could have gone to those depths before I got slapped down, he says. So is Mikeys motormouthed charisma whenever the character was about to veer too far into irredeemability, Rex would flash his boyish side: Ooh, a dragonfly! With Baker, he came up with Mikeys distinctive method of dismounting a bike, hopping off at full speed and letting it careen into a wall. Its pure slapstick, and it brings down the house every time. Only when you stop laughing do you realize thats how Mikey treats people, too.
In addition to all the other reasons Rex was a good fit for the part of Mikey, there was this: An uncomfortable number of people knew what he looked like naked. It happened when he was still a teenager, living with the girl with the scar. They had to pay rent, the baby needed to eat, and Simons $6.50 an hour as a busboy wasnt cutting it. So at the urging of his girlfriend, he did two video sessions for gay-porn impresario Brad Posey. Solo stuff, just masturbation. He doesnt remember how much he got paid, but he remembers it being exactly as much as they needed.
Of course, hed had qualms, but he would be lying if he didnt admit a part of him thought it was cool: It was like rock and roll, Sunset Strip, Mtley Cre, Rock out with your cock out that dumb shit. This was the early 90s. How many teenage boys prepared to jerk off in front of a camera for some quick cash could have foreseen the rapid technological changes that were to come, in which porn would transform from a physical object into a digital one, from something tucked away in shame to something thrillingly available, terrifyingly reproducible?
The tapes didnt come out for a few years; by the time they did, as Young, Hard, & Solo 2 and 3, Rex had made it to MTV. Newsweek wrote them up, and Michael Musto printed a still of Rexs penis in his Village Voice column. (Despite rumors, the porn was not why he was fired by MTV, though he did lose out on a few acting opportunities because of it.) Sometimes Rex will say it was 30 years ago and any ill feelings have been worn away by time. Other times, he admits he doesnt love the way his brush with porn has continued to define him. Girlfriends sometimes used it against him in fights. It was the thing most tabloids led with. Im not stupid. Ill see people be like, Oh, youre the guy from And they get out their phone and they fucking Google me and then they laugh at me, he says. Hes aware the release of Red Rocket is about to make the subject inescapable, and while he says his history helped him understand Mikeys incessant hustle, he reminds me that, unlike the character, he was never in the industry per se. He just made two tapes, then moved on with his life. How many of your orgasms do you remember?
Rex with director Sean Baker on the film-festival circuit. Photo: Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images
By the time the Red Rocket promo tour rolled around, Rex had been living in total isolation in the desert for months. Hed had a girlfriend early in quarantine, but they broke up shortly after he finished the movie. Im not kidding, man. I was losing it, he says. I would fucking be sitting there talking to myself out in the desert, responding to a podcast like it was my friend; the lady at the gas station would be my only social interaction in days.
Within the insular world of European film festivals, the Cannes premiere of Red Rocket was a coronation. Rex walked the red staircase in a navy Armani tux, looking tall and tanned. He seemed as if he belonged there. The film played well in the room, and afterward, cast and crew were treated to the uniquely Cannes experience of a protracted standing ovation. Baker big-upped his leading man with an enthusiastic double-barreled pointing action; unsure what else to do, Rex fidgeted with his bow tie. That night, the Red Rocket team had dinner together to celebrate. Rex ducked out before dessert. The sudden rush of stimuli was too much for him to take. He went back to his room and lay in his bed alone. My brain isnt wired for everything thats happening, he told me the next day over restorative waters on a hotel lawn. He arrived in leopard-print swim trunks, still damp from a decompressing dip in the sea.
Even the most hardened psyche would have trouble standing up to a roomful of clapping Frenchmen in tuxedos. The applause and the love, that was one of the highlights of my life, he said. Rex was crossing the threshold separating one version of the industry from another. In one, you frolic with bikini babes; in the other, you attend galas and tributes. And if like Leo you still happen to frolic with bikini babes in your spare time, then at least youre doing it with gravitas.
There is a certain privilege in prestige. A24s stable of stars includes Robert Pattinson, an old Harrodian, and Riley Keough, Elviss granddaughter. Everywhere Rex goes, cinastes have been dropping names of movies he hasnt heard of; like a good student, he has been writing them down and checking them out later. Rex never went back to college, and much of his education has come as an adult. Hes got the autodidact thing of wanting to read every book and listen to every podcast. (When he uses words like ephemeral, he has an endearing habit of double-checking that hes gotten it right.) He remembers his busboy job in Beverly Hills, when the rich people would treat him like crap because he didnt cut the lemons right. His festival travels put him back in with those people but with a difference: Now they want me around. Reviews out of the Cannes premiere were almost uniformly positive. The Hollywood Reporter said Rex gave a magnetic full-tilt performance of wired physicality and hypercaffeinated loquacity. At Deauville, Red Rocket won both the Jury Prize and the Critics Award. The next day, Rex was at a glitzy dinner in Paris. Im a shiny object they can say they met, he says. Im still not one of them, but theyre accepting me into their world.
Rexs Joshua Tree house has clean modernist lines and plenty of natural light an Instagrammers wet dream, he says. Vestiges of the Airbnb idea remain: The compound is full of little stations, almost like an adult summer camp. Over here, theres a fire pit; up there is a spot for hammocks. For relaxation, theres an outdoor tub; for entertaining, a dining table carved from Tahoe cedar. A guesthouse is under construction near the driveway. (Rex wanted to build it higher up, but one of his neighbors, a famous superhero actor, didnt like that it would look out over his property.)
Rex estimates that in the two and a half months since we met at Cannes, he has slept in his bed only three nights. On the drive to his house, he reflects on the journey: There would be a time in my life where Id be thinking I was hot shit. Now Im trying to remain humble. I know this is fleeting. But its impossible not to think, at least a little bit, about the road ahead. Ive got to take advantage of this window I have and make the right moves from here, he says. That will set me up for the next few years, which could set me up to be comfortable for the rest of my life.
Rex didnt actually make that much for Red Rocket. Its tacky to talk about money, he says to the reporter who keeps asking him about money, but he tells me his fee was less than six figures. (An A24 movie primarily pays in cachet.) But thats okay. When we get to the house, he tells me another story about money. Before the pandemic, he was traveling around Southeast Asia, paying his way by making Cameos. He would record a few happy-birthday videos for $50 a pop, and that would cover his food and lodging for a while. To some, that might be pathetic, like, Oh God, Simon Rex is doing Cameos to eat, he says. But I felt like the luckiest guy in the world.
People could call him washed up. Hell, he was saying it himself for ten years. But somewhere deep inside, he knew an opportunity was around the corner. Maybe it would be a sci-fi show no one watched that would pay a couple hundred grand a year; maybe it would be something else. He could just tell it wasnt over for him. For all his talk about the power of surrender, he believed this: Everything Red Rocket, Cannes, even the Scary Movie days was destined for him.
Is that a contradiction? We sit on Rexs porch and talk about fate. I tell him I think its all about the facts you choose to build your own narrative. I tell myself I never saw the most important developments in my life coming, but if I highlighted 12 other things, I could say it was all written in the stars. I guess its not that you were born out of the womb into a destiny, but something carves your path at some point, Rex concludes.
By now the sun has gone down, and the night is so quiet we can hear our voices echoing off the furniture. I ask him what will happen if the dream doesnt come true. What if the movie flops, the Oscar buzz dissipates, and his comeback lasts all of one film?
Thats fine, he says. Because look where I am now. He made a good movie. Even if it fizzles, maybe it will become a cult classic one day. In the worst-case scenario, hell be exactly where he was a year ago: living in a place he loves, having made peace with the end of his Hollywood career. The house is paid off, his bills are low. And if money gets really tight and he needs to rent the place out on Airbnb, hell survive that, too. Its not the end of the world, he says. Id probably get a second mattress and swap it out.
Thank you for subscribing and supporting our journalism. If you prefer to read in print, you can also find this article in the November 8, 2021, issue of New YorkMagazine.
Want more stories like this one? Subscribe now to support our journalism and get unlimited access to our coverage. If you prefer to read in print, you can also find this article in the November 8, 2021, issue of New York Magazine.
The one story you shouldnt miss today, selected byNew Yorks editors.
See the article here:
Simon Rex Doesnt Want to Be That Guy Anymore - Vulture
- One of 2021's best scary movies is now available to watch at home - JOE.ie - January 9th, 2022
- Katt Williams Once Claimed That No One Really Liked Him on the Set of 'Scary Movie 5' - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - January 9th, 2022
- New Scream Video Features Gale Weathers Reporting On The Original Woodsboro Murders - CinemaBlend - January 9th, 2022
- Is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 2 officially confirmed? - HITC - January 9th, 2022
- What's on TV Saturday: 'The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard' on HBO; Austin City Limits' on PBS - Los Angeles Times - January 9th, 2022
- Sidney Poitier paved the path for black actors in Hollywood - The Tribune India - January 9th, 2022
- What's on TV Thursday, January 6: 'Ghosts' on CBS - Los Angeles Times - January 9th, 2022
- Whats on TV this week: Macbeth, Euphoria & more - Boston Herald - January 9th, 2022
- Red Rocket Movie Increased 94% at Box Office This Weekend - The Nerd Stash - January 9th, 2022
- Worldwide Box Office Climbed 78% In 2021 To $21.4 Billion Amid Covid Flux As Spider-Man Brought The Year Home: Global Studio Rankings - Deadline - January 9th, 2022
- What's on TV Wednesday: 'Next Level Chef,' 'Amazing Race' - Los Angeles Times - January 9th, 2022
- Movies on TV this week 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' on TCM - Los Angeles Times - January 9th, 2022
- Archive 81, Wolf Like Me, and more streaming trailers to watch - nation.lk - The Nation Newspaper - January 9th, 2022
- The New 'Scream' Is Dedicated to Wes Craven - ScreenCrush - December 27th, 2021
- The 10 Best Horror Movies of 2021 - Rolling Stone - December 27th, 2021
- Stream It Or Skip It: The Scary of Sixty-First on VOD, a Taboo-Busting Throwback Thriller That Tackles Jeffrey Epstein Conspiracy Theories - Decider - December 27th, 2021
- 7 Movie Franchises That Should Have Stopped With A Trilogy - FandomWire - December 27th, 2021
- The 20 best Matrix references in other movies and TV shows - GamesRadar+ - December 27th, 2021
- The 11 best books we've read in 2021 - Greenville Journal - December 27th, 2021
- Best scary movies 2021: 15 of the best horror films ever, ranked by number of jump scares - The Scotsman - December 27th, 2021
- Movies on TV this week: 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' - Los Angeles Times - December 27th, 2021
- The Harry Potter star that all the child actors were scared of on set including Rupert Grint and Tom Felton - My London - December 27th, 2021
- Scary Movie V (2013) - IMDb - December 14th, 2021
- Every Movie Spoofed in the Scary Movie Franchise - December 14th, 2021
- Best Christmas movie 2021: 10 alternative Christmas films to watch over the festive season - The Scotsman - December 14th, 2021
- 5 movies, TV shows to snuggle up to over winter break - The Daily Orange - December 14th, 2021
- 'The Scary of Sixty-First': The horror of Jeffrey Epstein - AIPT - December 14th, 2021
- Corey Taylor Stars in the Official Trailer for Horror-Thriller 'Rucker' - Loudwire - December 14th, 2021
- Oklahoma's 'Soderbergh of the Sticks' scares up 'nunsploitation' with new movie 'Agnes' - Oklahoman.com - December 14th, 2021
- The Old School Animation Technique that Makes The Shining So Scary - Film School Rejects - December 14th, 2021
- The Hills Have Eyes 3 Possible Release Date of This Horror Film - Alpha News Call - December 14th, 2021
- Here's the Scary Trailer For AN UNQUIET GRAVE - Available on VOD, Digital HD and DVD January 18th - We Are Movie Geeks - December 14th, 2021
- The 20 Best Comedies of 2021 - Paste - Paste Magazine - December 14th, 2021
- The most fun movies of 2021 - Polygon - December 14th, 2021
- A logical look at the subjectivity of speech - MIT News - December 14th, 2021
- Riddler Unmasks the Truth About Bruce Wayne in New The Batman Trailer - ComicBook.com - December 14th, 2021
- REVIEW: 'The Unforgivable' is a gritty film about trauma at a young age and being haunted by the past - UNCW Seahawk - December 14th, 2021
- Movies on TV this week: 'In the Heat of the Night' Cinemax - Los Angeles Times - December 14th, 2021
- "Dopamine Nation": Why pain is crucial in an era of easy pleasures - Big Think - December 14th, 2021
- The best albums of 2021 - The New Statesman - December 14th, 2021
- Chhorii and beyond, why are Hindi filmmakers afraid of horror movies? - The Indian Express - November 29th, 2021
- When Is a Horror Movie Not a Horror Movie? - The New York Times - November 29th, 2021
- 12 Terrifying Horror Movie Families To Spend Thanksgiving With - GameSpot - November 29th, 2021
- 'Mom' and 'Scary Movie' star turns 45, plus more celebs with milestone birthdays in November 2021 - Wonderwall - November 29th, 2021
- 25+ Best Movies About Adoption That Show All Families Dont Look the Same - Scary Mommy - November 29th, 2021
- Who is in the cast of Kevin Harts True Story?... - The Sun - November 29th, 2021
- A Minute With: 'Shepherd' actor and director on the horror film - Reuters - November 29th, 2021
- Close out the year in movies with Spider-Man, The Matrix, and a slew of Oscar hopefuls - The A.V. Club - November 29th, 2021
- do you know who his ex-wife is? She is a much loved actress - D1SoftballNews.com - November 29th, 2021
- Movies on TV this week: 'Casablanca' TCM 'The Godfather' TMC - Los Angeles Times - November 29th, 2021
- Exclusive: Aitch Talks Popularity in College, His Success Over The Past 2 Years & Upcoming Album - theknockturnal.com - November 29th, 2021
- A Full Month Of Giving Thanks - Monticello News - November 29th, 2021
- Celebrities Who Got Married This Year - Goss.ie - November 29th, 2021
- Jed Blaugrund | 'Last Night in Soho' is swinging and scary - Santa Clarita Valley Signal - November 13th, 2021
- Billy Summers: 'Antlers' provides true scares on the big screen - Huntington Herald Dispatch - November 13th, 2021
- Tori Spelling: It's hard to admit to needing help with raising children - Tyler Morning Telegraph - November 13th, 2021
- Midnight Run 2 Is Happening with Robert De Niro and Regina Hall - MovieWeb - November 13th, 2021
- The horror film Quentin Tarantino called "one of the greatest movies ever made" - Far Out Magazine - November 13th, 2021
- New horror movies 2021: every big scary film coming to theaters and streamers - TechRadar - November 13th, 2021
- Reader Radar: The World Series of Scary Movies - National Association of Plan Advisors - November 2nd, 2021
- Updated Scary Movies for People with Anxiety and Depression - The New Yorker - November 2nd, 2021
- Opinion: Santa Cruz and Scary Movies - Good Times Weekly - November 2nd, 2021
- Here are the top-grossing scary movies of the last 20 Halloweens - WGHP FOX8 Greensboro - November 2nd, 2021
- Not ready to end the scary-movie season? 'Roh' is just what you need - KMUW - November 2nd, 2021
- Halloween: 5 scary movies that will send chills down your spine - KIRO Seattle - November 2nd, 2021
- Scary movies should have cathartic endings | Opinion | breezejmu.org - The Breeze - November 2nd, 2021
- 6 Purely Terrifying Ghost Movies That Will Send Chills Down Your Spine - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - November 2nd, 2021
- The best scary movies on TV over the Halloween weekend - JOE.ie - November 2nd, 2021
- Scary Godmother Is a Halloween Nostalgiafest - Vulture - November 2nd, 2021
- Halloween 2021: Scariest horror ever according to science revealed - Metro.co.uk - November 2nd, 2021
- Fear is fun (for some of us): Why we're drawn to horror and scary movies - Stars and Stripes - November 2nd, 2021
- Are these the 13 scariest movie cars of all time? | ClassicCars.com Journal - The ClassicCars.com Journal - November 2nd, 2021
- Stream and scream with these free scary movies, series on iWantTFC for Halloween - Manila Bulletin - November 2nd, 2021
- IMO: 'The Haunting Of Hill House' is a Perfect Scary Series - knue.com - November 2nd, 2021
- Horror movies Netflix UK: 10 of the best horror movies on the popular streaming platform - The Scotsman - November 2nd, 2021
- 2 scary movies open Oct. 29 at Seattle-area theaters, just in time for Halloween - Walla Walla Union-Bulletin - November 2nd, 2021
- The 31 Scariest Movie Scenes Ever - /Film - October 20th, 2021
- In the Mood for a Scary Movie? Here Are 12 That Are Set in DC. - Washingtonian - October 20th, 2021
- Halloween parades, scary movies, and other spooky activities happening this week - PennLive - October 20th, 2021
- The 11 scariest movies on Netflix right now - AL.com - October 20th, 2021
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero