James Edward Franco (born April 19, 1978) is an American actor, filmmaker, and college instructor. For his role in 127 Hours (2010), he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Franco is known for his roles in live-action films, such as Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (2002–2007); Milk (2008); Pineapple Express (2008); Eat, Pray, Love (2010); Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011); Spring Breakers (2012); Oz the Great and Powerful (2013); This Is the End (2013); and The Disaster Artist (2017), for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. He is known for his collaborations with fellow actor Seth Rogen, having appeared in eight films and one television series with him.
Franco is also known for his work on television; his first prominent acting role was the character Daniel Desario on the short-lived ensemble comedy-drama Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000), which developed a cult following. He portrayed the title character in the television biographical film James Dean (2001), for which he won a Golden Globe Award. Franco had a recurring role on the daytime soap opera General Hospital (2009–2012) and starred in the limited series 11.22.63 (2016). He currently stars in the David Simon-created HBO drama The Deuce (2017–present).
Franco volunteers for the Art of Elysium charity, and has taught film classes at New York University, the University of Southern California, UCLA, Studio 4, Palo Alto High School, and Playhouse West.
Franco in March 2013
James Edward Franco
April 19, 1978
James Edward Franco was born in Palo Alto, California on April 19, 1978. His mother, Betsy Lou (née Verne), is a writer and occasional actress, and his father, Douglas Eugene "Doug" Franco, ran a Silicon Valley business. His father was of Portuguese (from Madeira) and Swedish ancestry, while his mother is Jewish, from a family of Russian Jewish descent. His maternal grandfather, Daniel, changed his surname from "Verovitz" to "Verne" some time after 1940. His paternal grandmother, Marjorie (née Peterson), is a published author of young adult books. His maternal grandmother, Mitzie (née Levine), owned the prominent Verne Art Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio, and was an active member in the National Council of Jewish Women.
Franco's family upbringing was "academic, liberal, and largely secular". He grew up in California with his two brothers, actors Tom and Dave. A "math whiz", Franco interned at Lockheed Martin. He was often encouraged by his father to get good grades and did well on his SATs. He graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1996, where he acted in plays. This led to him attending CSSSA in 1998 for theater studies. In his high school years, Franco was arrested for underage drinking, graffiti, and being a part of a group that stole designer fragrances from department stores and sold them to classmates. These arrests led to Franco briefly becoming a ward of the state. Facing the possibility of juvenile hall, he was given a second chance by the judge. He recalled of his troubles with the law, "It was teen angst. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was shy. I changed my ways just in time to get good grades."
Although the idea of becoming a marine zoologist interested him, Franco had always secretly wanted to become an actor but feared being rejected. He enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as an English major, but dropped out after his first year (against his parents' wishes) to pursue a career as an actor, since he would have had to wait two years to audition for their acting program. He instead chose to take acting lessons with Robert Carnegie at the Playhouse West. Around this time, he took up a late-night job at McDonald's to support himself because his parents refused to do so. He was a vegetarian for the year prior to working there. While working at the establishment, he would practice accents on customers, an experience he remembered nostalgically in a 2015 Washington Post editorial titled "McDonald's was there for me when no one else was".
After 15 months of training, he began auditioning in Los Angeles. His first paid role was a television commercial for Pizza Hut, featuring a dancing Elvis Presley (who had died in 1977). He found guest roles on television shows but his first break came in 1999, after he was cast in a leading role on the short-lived but well-reviewed NBC television series Freaks and Geeks, which ran for 18 episodes and was canceled due to low viewership. Later, the show became a cult hit among audiences. He has since described the series as "one of the most fun" work experiences that he has had. In another interview, Franco said: "When we were doing Freaks and Geeks, I didn't quite understand how movies and TV worked, and I would improvise even if the camera wasn't on me ... So I was improvising a little bit back then, but not in a productive way." After his film debut Never Been Kissed, he played a popular jock Chris in Whatever It Takes (2000), a modern-day remake of the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac.
He was subsequently cast as the title role in director Mark Rydell's 2001 TV biographical film James Dean. To immerse himself in the role, Franco went from being a non-smoker to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, bleached his dark brown hair blond, and learned to ride a motorcycle as well as play guitar and the bongos. To have a greater understanding of Dean, Franco spent hours with two of Dean's associates. Other research included reading books on Dean and studying his movies. While filming James Dean, the actor, to get into character, cut off communication with his family and friends, as well as his then-girlfriend. "It was a very lonely existence," he notes. "If I wasn't on a set, I was watching James Dean. That was my whole thinking. James Dean. James Dean." Despite already being a fan of Dean, Franco feared he might be typecast if he'd captured the actor too convincingly. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Franco could have walked through the role and done a passable Dean, but instead gets under the skin of this insecure, rootless young man." He received a Golden Globe Award and nominations for an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG).
Franco achieved worldwide fame and attention in the 2002 superhero film Spider-Man, when he played Harry Osborn, the son of the villainous Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and best friend of Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire). Originally, Franco was considered for the lead role of Spider-Man/Peter Parker in the film, though the lead went to Maguire. Todd McCarthy of Variety noted that there are "good moments" between Maguire and Franco in the film. Spider-Man was a commercial and critical success. The movie grossed $114 million during its opening weekend in North America and went on to earn $822 million worldwide.
He next starred in Sonny, a 2002 release in which he was directed by fellow actor Nicolas Cage, whose involvement had attracted Franco to the film. Set in 1980s New Orleans, Sonny follows the titular character (Franco) returning home after just being discharged from the Army. To prepare for his role, he met with sex workers or people who had previously been prostitutes. The movie was panned by critics, with the New York Post's Lou Lumenick calling it an "instant candidate for worst movie of the year". Franco was cast as a homeless drug addict in the drama City by the Sea (2002) after co-star Robert De Niro saw a snippet of his work in James Dean. He lived on the streets for several days to better understand the subject matter as well as talking to former or still-using drug addicts. He also co-starred with Neve Campbell in Robert Altman's ballet movie The Company (2003). The success of the first Spider-Man film led Franco to reprise the role in the 2004 sequel, Spider-Man 2. The movie was well received by critics, and it proved to be a big financial success, setting a new opening weekend box office record for North America. With revenue of $783 million worldwide, it became the second highest-grossing film in 2004. The following year he made and starred in the black comedy The Ape and the 2005 war film The Great Raid, in which he portrayed Robert Prince, a captain in the United States Army's elite Sixth Ranger Battalion. In 2006, Franco co-starred with Tyrese Gibson in Annapolis and played legendary hero Tristan in Tristan & Isolde, a period piece dramatization of the Tristan and Iseult story also starring British actress Sophia Myles. For the former, he did eight months of boxing training and for the latter, he practiced horseback riding and sword fighting. He then completed training for his Private Pilot Licence in preparation for his role in Flyboys, which was released in September 2006; the same month, Franco appeared briefly in The Wicker Man, the remake of the seminal horror film. Also in 2006, he made a cameo appearance in the romantic comedy The Holiday.
He again played Harry Osborn in Spider-Man 3 (2007). In contrast to the previous two films' positive reviews, Spider-Man 3 was met with a mixed reception by critics. Nonetheless, with a total worldwide gross of $891 million, it stands as the most successful film in the series, and Franco's highest-grossing film to date. In this same year, Franco made a cameo appearance as himself in the Apatow-directed comedy Knocked Up, which starred Freaks and Geeks alumni Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Martin Starr. Franco co-starred with Sienna Miller in the low-budget independent film Camille, a dark fantasy dramedy about a young newlywed couple and Interview, where he appears in a voice only role, both 2007 movies that were ignored by audiences and critics alike. Among his other 2007 projects were Good Time Max, which Franco wrote, directed and starred in. The movie premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival and tells the story of two talented brothers who take very diverse paths in life, one going on to become a doctor whilst the other sibling (Franco) experiences unemployment and uses drugs. The actor chose to cast himself in that role because, "It was really just a process of elimination. I was better suited for this role than the responsible surgeon".
He next starred in Pineapple Express (2008), a stoner comedy co-starring and co-written by Seth Rogen and produced by Judd Apatow. Of Franco's character, Apatow said, "You tell him, 'Okay, you're going to play a pot dealer', and he comes back with a three-dimensional character you totally believe exists. He takes it very seriously, even when it's comedy". In her New York Times review, critic Manohla Dargis wrote: "He's delightful as Saul, loosey-goosey and goofy yet irrepressibly sexy, despite that greasy curtain of hair and a crash pad with a zero WAF (Woman Acceptance Factor). It's an unshowy, generous performance and it greatly humanizes a movie that, as it shifts genre gears and cranks up the noise, becomes disappointingly sober and self-serious". His performance earned him a second Golden Globe nomination, for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. He has stated in some interviews that he no longer uses cannabis (although he has occasionally alluded to smoking it, most notably during an extended segment on The Colbert Report). He was awarded High Times magazine's Stoner of the Year Award for his work in Pineapple Express. In 2008 he also appeared in two films by American artist Carter, exhibited at the Yvon Lambert gallery in Paris. On September 20, 2008, he hosted the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL), and a second time on December 19, 2009.
Franco starred with Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Emile Hirsch, in Gus Van Sant's Milk (2008). In the film he plays Scott Smith, the boyfriend of Harvey Milk (Penn). Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, in review of the film, wrote: "Franco is a nice match for him [Penn] as the lover who finally has enough of political life". For his performance in the film, Franco won the Independent Spirit Award in the category for Best Supporting Actor. In late 2009 he joined the cast of the daytime soap opera General Hospital on a recurring basis. He plays Franco, a multimedia artist much like himself, who comes to Port Charles to do an art exhibition and becomes obsessed with Jason Morgan (Steve Burton). Franco has called his General Hospital role performance art.
Franco began 2010 by making an appearance on the sitcom 30 Rock where he played himself and carried on a fake romance with Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) in a scheme concocted by their respective agents. After appearing in the commercial successes Date Night, an action comedy, and Eat Pray Love, an adaption of a novel, Franco played poet Allen Ginsberg in the drama Howl, released on September 24. The latter, about his most known poem and the trial about the work, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and earned modest reviews.
In his next project, 127 Hours, directed by Danny Boyle, Franco portrayed real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston. It was given a limited release starting on November 5, 2010. 127 Hours centered on Ralston trying to free his hand after it became trapped under a boulder in a ravine while canyoneering alone in Utah and resorting to desperate measures in order to survive, eventually amputating his arm. During the five-week, 12-hours-per-day shoot, Franco would only leave the gully set to use the lavatory and would read books such as academic textbooks to keep busy. Franco later called making 127 Hours a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To date, 127 Hours is one of his most well-reviewed movies and was also a commercial success, earning $60.7 million against an $18 million budget. His performance earned him universal acclaim from critics. Subsequently, he was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and SAG award, as well as winning an Independent Spirit Award.
I didn't have many actors to act opposite with, so the crew and the director and the writer, they all became my co-stars in a way and we all had this one character to share in. I, it was my body but we were all kinda jammed in there [the gully].— James Franco on filming 127 Hours
On February 23, 2011, Franco made a cameo appearance on NBC's Minute to Win It where the real-life Ralston was participating as a contestant playing for charity. After having an uncredited cameo in the opening scene of The Green Hornet (2011), he starred opposite Natalie Portman and Danny McBride in the Medieval fantasy comedy Your Highness. In the film, he plays Fabious, a prince who teams up with his brother (McBride) to rescue the soon to be bride of Fabious (played by Zooey Deschanel). In May 2010, he was cast to star in Rupert Wyatt's $93 million budgeted Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the Planet of the Apes series which was released on August 5. Franco starred alongside Winona Ryder in The Letter, originally entitled The Stare, directed by Jay Anania. He was cast as a drug-addicted lawyer in About Cherry, also starring Heather Graham, which started shooting the following month in California. He dropped out of the indie film While We're Young to star in Oz the Great and Powerful, a Disney prequel to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). Filming began in July 2011, and the film was released on March 8, 2013. He has signed to do a sequel to it.
At the end of September 2010, the actor acquired the rights to Stephen Elliott's The Adderall Diaries, with the intention to adapt, direct, and star in the film. It was announced in January 2011 that the actor has planned to not only star in, but direct himself in The Night Stalker, a film version of author Philip Carlo's book about the 1980s serial killer, Richard Ramirez. Co-screenwriter of the screenplay, Nicholas Constantine, was initially unconvinced that Franco would be right for the movie, until he learned of Franco's desire to be a director and later watched three of his short films, one of which featured a serial killer, ultimately confirming to the writer that the actor had a darker side. Franco also directed a film version of William Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying., the film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. In late 2013, Franco starred in This Is the End as a fictionalized version of himself stuck in a house during an apocalypse with Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride, also fictionalized versions of themselves.
In February 2012, Franco began shooting a film version of Cormac McCarthy's 1973 novella Child of God, which stars Scott Haze as Lester Ballard. The film chronicles the depraved and violent impulses of the young Tennessee backwoodsman after he is dispossessed of his ancestral land. Child of God was selected in official competition at the 70th Venice Film Festival, an official selection to the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and an official selection to the prestigious 51st New York Film Festival. In 2013, Franco starred as the gangster "Alien" in Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, with Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Gucci Mane and Rachel Korine. A24 films began a campaign in September 2013 in support of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Franco's performance. In March 2013, it was announced that Franco was set to make his 2014 Broadway stage debut in the role of George in a revival of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. In October 2013, Franco appeared in the music video for "City of Angels" by Thirty Seconds to Mars.
In April 2014, Franco directed and appeared in "Techno Color Sunglasses", which promoted Gucci's eyewear collection. In December, Franco starred in the controversial Sony comedy thriller, The Interview, a film which played a central role in the real world diplomatic relations between the United States and North Korea as they related to the 2014 Sony hacking incident. In April 2015, two of his projects, titled I Am Michael and True Story, were shown at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. In I Am Michael, Franco plays a gay activist who rejects his homosexuality and becomes a conservative Christian pastor with a girlfriend. In True Story, based on a true story, Franco played Christian Longo, a man who was on the FBI's most wanted list for murdering his wife and three children in Oregon, and who had also been hiding under the identity of Michael Finkel, a journalist played by Jonah Hill.
In 2015, Franco was cast in the lead role for the Hulu limited series 11.22.63 which is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. The eight-episode series premiered on February 15, 2016. In 2016, Franco co-produced and starred in King Cobra, a true story about the rise of gay pornographic actor Brent Corrigan and the murder of Bryan Kocis. Franco played Joseph Kerekes who (along with his partner) was convicted of the murder. In the comedy Why Him?, released in December 2016, Franco played an immature tech-billionaire whose girlfriend's conservative father tries to intervene in the couple's relationship, with Zoey Deutch playing the girlfriend and Bryan Cranston as her father. He briefly appeared in the Alien prequel, Alien: Covenant, alongside friend and frequent collaborator Danny McBride, and Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace. He played Branson, the captain of the Covenant ship and husband to Daniels, played by Katherine Waterston. The film was released on May 19, 2017.
In 2016, Franco directed, co-produced, and starred in The Disaster Artist, the film adaptation of actor Greg Sestero's non-fiction book of the same name, about the making of The Room, which is considered to be one of worst films ever made. In the film, Franco portrayed the film's star, director, screenwriter, and producer Tommy Wiseau, while Franco's brother, Dave, portrayed Sestero. Franco remained in character as Wiseau throughout the entirety of the shoot. The Disaster Artist was released on December 1, 2017, to positive reviews, while his portrayal of Wiseau gained near-universal praise. His performance won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
At the end of 2017, Franco, almost 40, said he was slowing down to focus on himself. He was having something of a moment, with two Golden Globe nominations and some Oscar buzz, to which he has said he brought a new perspective: "Hard work does pay off, but what I didn't realize is you need balance, and you cannot make your happiness contingent on your work, or anything outside of you for that matter, right? It's gotta be, at the risk of sounding cheesy, a more spiritual thing. I didn't learn that until a year ago."
Franco produced and directed a documentary titled Saturday Night documenting a week in the production of an episode of SNL. The film began as a short for an NYU class but grew due to his two episodes as host, while short stories he wrote for other classes appeared in Esquire and McSweeney's. In summer 2010, the fictional Franco from General Hospital held an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, while the real Franco held an exhibit at the museum based on his experiences on the soap opera.
In 2008, Franco was named as the face of Gucci's men's fragrance line. His short films as director The Feast of Stephen and Herbert White were both presented within Maryland Film Festival in May 2010. Another of his short movies, The Clerk's Tale, was screened in competition at the Hamptons Film Festival at the end of 2010. In June 2010, James Franco presented his first solo exhibition, "The Dangerous Book Four Boys", presented at The Clocktower Gallery in New York City. Curated by Alanna Heiss, the show featured video, drawings, sculptures and installation.
On October 19, 2010, Scribner published a collection of short stories, Palo Alto, by Franco. The book is named after the California city where Franco grew up and is dedicated to many of the writers he worked with at Brooklyn College. Inspired by some of Franco's own teenage memories Palo Alto, and memories written and submitted by high school students at Palo Alto Senior High School, consists of life in Palo Alto as experienced by a series of teenagers who spend most of their time indulging in driving drunk, smoking weed and taking part in unplanned acts of violence. Each passage is told by a young narrator. The book has received mixed reviews; Los Angeles Times called it "the work of an ambitious young man who clearly loves to read, who has a good eye for detail, but who has spent way too much time on style and virtually none on substance". The Guardian reported that Franco's "foray into the literary world may be met with cynicism in some quarters, but this is a promising debut from a most unlikely source". Writing in The New York Times, reviewer and fellow author Joshua Mohr praised Franco for how, in the story "American History", he juxtaposed historical parts with a present-day social commentary that "makes the we wonder how much we've actually evolved in post-bellum America". At least one editor of a literary journal testified he would not publish Franco's stories, claiming he has been published due to his star power, not literary talent. Publishers Weekly reviewed the collection, stating "The author fails to find anything remotely insightful to say in these 11 amazingly underwhelming stories".
In January 2011, the actor screened his multimedia project entitled Three's Company The Drama, in which he merges video and art to update the former sitcom, at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Franco reunited with Milk director Van Sant to make Unfinished, a project that features two movies: Endless Idaho and My Own Private River. Endless Idaho showcases edited outtakes, deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage from the 1991 movie My Own Private Idaho, while My Own Private River focuses on the late actor River Phoenix. The idea for the exhibition was conceived after Van Sant introduced unused footage from the 1991 film to Franco, inspiring him to turn it into something more. Unfinished opened from February 26 to April 9 at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills.
On February 27, 2011, he and Anne Hathaway hosted the 83rd Academy Awards. The two were selected to help the awards show achieve its goal of attracting a younger audience. Franco had previously said that he accepted the job for the experience and because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Numerous media viewers criticized Franco for his discontent and lack of energy on stage and the show was widely panned, with some reviewers dubbing it the worst telecast in its history. The actor later spoke about his hosting in an interview on the Late Show with David Letterman. He explained that when accepting the job he never had high hopes, adding "It was never on my list of things to do. It doesn't mean I didn't care and it doesn't mean I didn't try, right?" Regarding allegations that he was under the influence of marijuana while hosting, Franco commented "I think the Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway. She has a lot of energy!" He concluded that he tried his best and could have had "low energy" during the telecast.
A few months later, he continued talking about the hosting gig at an interview for Playboy. There he said he told a producer, "I don't know why you hired me, because you haven't given me anything. I just don't think this stuff's going to be good". He also said he felt "kind of trapped in that material" and that there was "no way out". He also admitted to a post-ceremony fight on Twitter with longtime Oscars writer Bruce Vilanch. When Vilanch intimated that the busy actor appeared less than fully committed to the job, Franco posted a photo of the two of them together graffiti-ed saying "James Fucked up the oscars. Trust me, I KNOW comedy. I mean, come on, I write for Bette Midler". Franco explained to Playboy that "I personally do not do my best thinking when I'm angry. Before Twitter, I always had that buffer period when I could actually think and decide, Is this worth it? ... For me Twitter is a dangerous thing".
In May, Franco made his dance-theater directorial debut at New York's Stella Adler studios, where he narrated all the performances. Entitled "Collage" and described as a "mixed-media piece", the show featured live dance, theater, music, and poetry. Tickets were free but were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The actor also directed two short films for songs ("Blue" and "That Someone Is You") by R.E.M. from their album Collapse into Now (2011). Franco continued his career as a filmmaker with The Broken Tower, a 90-minute docudrama shot in black and white about poet Hart Crane, who committed suicide by jumping off the steamship SS Orizaba. It originally started out as his master's thesis. It was screened at 2011's Los Angeles Film Festival – among more than 200 feature films, short projects, and music videos from more than 30 countries. It was released on DVD in 2012.
Since 2012, Franco has served as a lecturer at UCLA teaching classes in the School of Theater, Film and Television. In September 2012, Franco announced the release of his band Daddy's first single Love in the Old Days and their first EP MotorCity. On March 8, 2013, Franco received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6838 Hollywood Boulevard. On July 9, 2013, Franco announced that he would be the featured roastee on the next Comedy Central Roast. The roast aired on September 2, 2013.
In February 2014, Franco wrote an article in The New York Times in support of the metamodernist performance art of Shia LaBeouf, describing LaBeouf's project as one "in which a young man in a very public profession tries to reclaim his public persona". In April 2014, the literary publisher Graywolf Press issued Franco's first collection of poetry, Directing Herbert White. The title alludes to a poem (made by Franco into a 2010 short film) by Frank Bidart, who has served as friend and mentor to Franco.
In September 2015, Franco announced he would be teaching an eight-part film class to high school students at Palo Alto High School. The class began on September 13, 2015.
Viewed as a sex symbol, Franco was named the Sexiest Man Living in 2009 by Salon.com. There has often been frequent media coverage of Franco, particularly regarding his interest in going to colleges. In addition to that, Franco has also claimed to have been strongly misquoted by reports in the media and news outlets reporting erroneous information about him. This led to the actor being parodied in an episode of SNL's Weekend Update segment, which an Entertainment Weekly writer deemed "clever". In a 2011 interview, he stated:
I've been perceived as this guy yelling, 'Hey, look at me. I want attention'. I'm not going to school to get articles written about me. I'm just going to school. But the fact that I'm going to school or that someone takes a picture of me sleeping is like, 'We're gonna jump on that and criticize him for his antics'. What antics? I write. I make movies. I'm going to school. I hosted the Oscars. I take these projects seriously.
Franco has deliberately garnered a reputation for publishing "selfies" (self-shot photos of oneself, alone or with others) and wrote an explanatory article for The New York Times in December 2013. Franco writes:
But a well-stocked collection of selfies seems to get attention. And attention seems to be the name of the game when it comes to social networking. In this age of too much information at a click of a button, the power to attract viewers amid the sea of things to read and watch is power indeed. It's what the movie studios want for their products, it's what professional writers want for their work, it's what newspapers want — hell, it's what everyone wants: attention. Attention is power.
In April 2012, Shalom Life ranked Franco and his brother, Dave, together as number two on its list of 50 talented and attractive Jewish men. In 2013, Franco was featured as the cover model and featured focus in the men's magazine Man of the World.
In other forms of media, a Chicago-based theater company, Under the Gun Theater, developed a show inspired by and titled after Franco. The 2015 production of Dear James Franco used, parodied and deconstructed letters penned to or by celebrities. The performances used improvisation to satirize their subject matter.
Franco has described himself as Jewish; regarding his secular upbringing, he told The Guardian that he feels as if he has "missed out on the Jewish experience", but has been told not to worry about that by his Jewish friends and said in the same interview that he likes "the idea of religion as a source of community". When asked if he was a "believer", he responded, "In God? I don't know. Yes. To a certain extent. It's a complicated question." In 2015, he had an official Bar Mitzvah ceremony, presided over by a rabbi.
Due to his support for the LGBT community, and his portrayal of gay characters in his projects, Franco's sexuality has been a subject of discussion in media sources, relentlessly questioning if he himself is gay. In response to questions regarding his sexuality, he insists he finds plenty more dimensions to the characters than their bedroom proclivities. "Or, you know what," he quipped, "maybe I'm just gay." In a March 2015 interview with Four Two Nine magazine, Franco again opened up about his sexuality, commenting that it is not whom you have sex with that defines your sexuality, but instead how you act. "In the twenties and thirties, they used to define homosexuality by how you acted and not by whom you slept with. Sailors would fuck guys all the time, but as long as they behaved in masculine ways, they weren't considered gay." He added, "Well, I like to think that I'm gay in my art and straight in my life."
After meeting on the set of Whatever It Takes in 1999, Franco dated co-star Marla Sokoloff for five years. He was later in a relationship with actress Ahna O'Reilly until 2011. He confirmed their separation in an interview for Playboy magazine's August 2011 issue, saying that his interest in education got between them.
In 2014, a 17-year-old girl posted screenshots of alleged messages between her and Franco on Instagram. The messages showed that Franco, who was 35 at the time, tried to meet her in a hotel room after she told him she was 17. Franco sent multiple pictures of himself to prove his real identity. Franco admitted on Live! With Kelly and Michael that he had written the messages. His actions were legal (the age of consent in New York is seventeen) but he was criticized by the media because of the wide age gap. He initially responded to the scandal with the tweet, "I HOPE PARENTS KEEP THEIR TEENS AWAY FROM ME. Thank you." He later stated he was "embarrassed" and "I learned my lesson."
At the 2018 Golden Globes, Franco wore a Time's Up pin in solidarity with the #MeToo movement, to protest harassment against women. Franco's pin drew criticism on social media from actress Ally Sheedy, who hinted she had quit acting after working with Franco in a play. A former girlfriend, Violet Paley, also alleged that Franco once forced her to give him oral sex in a car while they were dating. On January 9, 2018, The New York Times canceled a planned event with James Franco, citing the allegations. On January 10, Franco said on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that the accusations were "not accurate."
On January 11, the Los Angeles Times reported five additional women were accusing James Franco of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior while serving as their acting teacher. One former student stated that Franco "would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts" in his projects. Another alleged that Franco held a sex scenes class and removed students' vaginal guards while simulating oral sex with them. Franco's attorney, Michael Plonsker, disputed these women's allegations.
Franco, dissatisfied with his career's direction, reenrolled at UCLA in autumn 2006 as an English major with a creative writing concentration. He received permission to take as many as 62 course credits per quarter compared to the normal limit of 19, while still continuing to act, receiving many of his credits from independent study for his involvement on the set of Spider-Man 3. He received his undergraduate degree in June 2008 with a GPA of 3.5/4.0. For his degree, Franco prepared his departmental honors thesis as a novel under the supervision of Mona Simpson. While at the university the actor studied French, the Holocaust, philosophy of science and American literature, among other things. To continue acting, he would study on film sets.
He was selected as the commencement speaker at his alma mater, UCLA, and was to speak at the ceremony on June 12, 2009. Several months before commencement, an editorial in the student newspaper questioned his "caliber" and a student created a Facebook page protesting the choice. On June 3, Franco withdrew, citing a date conflict with location pre-production on a film. On January 26, 2011, Franco and the Harvard Lampoon released a satirical video on prominent comedy website Funny or Die mocking his last-minute cancellation.
He moved to New York to simultaneously attend graduate school at Columbia University's MFA writing program, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for filmmaking, and Brooklyn College for fiction writing, while also attending the low-residency MFA Program for Writers at North Carolina's Warren Wilson College for poetry. He received his MFA from Columbia in 2010. Franco is a PhD student in English at Yale University and also attended the Rhode Island School of Design.
Franco opted against watching the 2011 Academy Award nominees' being announced (where he was a top contender) in favor of attending class. "I'm not gonna miss class to go and presume that I'm going to be nominated, but if you want to bring out a camera crew to Yale and wait and see if I get nominated, I'd be happy to step out of class and say I'm very grateful", he commented.
It was announced in March 2011 that Franco will teach a fall semester course on modifying poetry into short films to ten to twelve third-year graduate film students at NYU. The course will focus mainly on production, meaning that the students will be in charge of creating their own film based on poetry. He has also taught film classes at USC and UCLA, as well as a screenwriting class on the online learning community Skillshare.
When asked about his education, Franco said that he loves school, and that it keeps him focused and grounded. "I go to school because I love being around people who are interested in what I'm interested in and I'm having a great experience ... I'm studying things that I love so it's not like it's a chore", he told The Washington Post, according to a New York Magazine article. Franco has also credited his education for helping him "take acting seriously" when his parents did not see it as a successful post-college career.
Franco developed an aptitude for art—painting in particular—during his high school years while attending the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA). Franco has said painting was the "outlet" he needed in high school, and he "has actually been painting longer than he has been acting". His paintings were displayed publicly for the first time at the Glü Gallery in Los Angeles, from January 7, through February 11, 2006. He launched his first European art exhibition in 2011 at Peres Projects in Berlin. He enjoys reading on the set of his films. Pineapple Express producer Judd Apatow has said of him: "He's a very education-minded person. We used to laugh because in between takes he'd be reading The Iliad on set. We still haven't read The Iliad. It was a very difficult book. With him, it was always James Joyce or something".
In an interview with Showbiz411, on September 23, 2010, Franco made the erroneous public announcement that he received a "D" grade in "Acting" class at the NYU Graduate Film School. It was in fact a "Directing the Actor" class. Franco admitted to missing most of his classes that semester. A professor at New York University, José Angel Santana, alleged that Franco did not earn his grades while attending that school, stating that Franco missed over 80% of his classes and only received high marks and a degree because of his celebrity status as an actor. In September 2012, Santana filed a lawsuit against Franco for defamation seeking unspecified damages. In September 2013, Franco and Santana settled the defamation lawsuit. "The matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties", said Santana's attorney Matthew Blit.
Franco defended himself when he was on the Howard Stern Show, stating that he had spoken with the professor before the semester began on how he would have to miss most classes to film 127 Hours, in which they had settled on Franco receiving a "D" in the course together. Franco has taught at USC, UCLA, CalArts and NYU in Film and English departments. For his students' film projects, he has helped to attract actors, including Seth MacFarlane, Kate Mara, Natalie Portman, Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Wiig and Olivia Wilde. In March 2013, Franco was featured in half-page print advertisements for his alma mater UCLA, which celebrated the university's famous alumnus as a "prolific academic", and carried the tagline: "Some A-Listers Actually Get A's".
Franco has said "aiding others is the key to life, the key to happiness and, as an actor, you can get wrapped up in yourself and your career ... A little secret is one of the greatest ways to break that is to stop thinking about yourself for a second". When Franco was at a point in his life where he wanted to give back but was unsure how, he asked his Spider-Man co-star Kirsten Dunst for advice. At her suggestion, he started volunteering at the charity Art of Elysium, where she also volunteers, which helps children with serious medical conditions. He said the experience helped save his life. In January 2011, at the Art of Elysium Heaven Gala in Los Angeles, Franco was honored for his work at the hospital, receiving the Spirit of Elysium accolade.
On March 31, 2011, the actor took part in "An Evening with James Franco", a Washington D.C. dinner benefit for 826DC, a non-profit foundation created to help neighborhood students reach their goals, as well as provide after-school literature programs and workshops that encourage them to improve their writing skills. Franco became involved with Dave Eggers' 826 National after Eggers asked him to do a conceptual idea for the program, and he directed a documentary for them and has since been a supporter of them. At the event, he spoke about how he thought schools needed to be more original with their literature programs. "Writing can do things that video cannot", he added. In April 2011, Franco autographed a T-shirt that would be auctioned off through the Yoshiki Foundation, with the proceeds being donated for Japanese tsunami relief. On June 14, he was honored by amfAR, the foundation for AIDS research, at the Museum of Modern Art. Franco received the Piaget Award of Inspiration for his humanitarian work and contributions to men's style.
In April 2014, Franco presented at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet Competition with Leighton Meester and Chris O'Dowd, after raising donations at his Broadway show Of Mice and Men. In June 2014, Franco performed in the BC/EFA benefit Broadway Bares
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Other acting awards went to Melissa Leo and Penélope Cruz, both of whom are also up for Oscars, and to James Franco for his supporting role in Milk.
11.22.63 is an American science fiction thriller miniseries based on the book 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and consisting of eight episodes. The series is executive-produced by J. J. Abrams, King, Bridget Carpenter and Bryan Burk, and produced by James Franco, who also has the main role. It premiered on Hulu on February 15, 2016, and was received positively by critics.127 Hours
127 Hours is a 2010 biographical survival drama film produced and directed by Danny Boyle. The film stars James Franco, Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn. In the film, canyoneer Aron Ralston gets trapped by a boulder in an isolated slot canyon in Blue John Canyon, southeastern Utah, in April 2003. Ralston must find a way to escape. It is a British and American venture produced by Everest Entertainment, Film4 Productions, HandMade Films and Cloud Eight Films.
The film, based on Ralston's memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place (2004), was written by Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, co-produced by Christian Colson and John Smithson, and scored by A. R. Rahman. Beaufoy, Colson, and Rahman had all previously worked with Boyle on Slumdog Millionaire (2008). 127 Hours was well received by critics and audiences and was runner up for six Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Franco and Best Picture.
The film's title refers to the period of non-stop activity from when Ralston awoke on the day of his accident to when he was put under anesthesia during his rescue.83rd Academy Awards
The 83rd Academy Awards ceremony, organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 2010 in the United States and took place on February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST). During the ceremony, Academy Awards (commonly called the Oscars) were presented in 24 competitive categories. The ceremony was televised in the United States by ABC, and produced by Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer, with Mischer also serving as director. Actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway co-hosted the ceremony, marking the first time for each.In related events, the Academy held its second annual Governors Awards ceremony at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center on November 13, 2010. On February 12, 2011, in a ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by host Marisa Tomei.Inception and The King's Speech won four awards each with the latter film winning Best Picture. Other winners included The Social Network with three awards, Alice in Wonderland, The Fighter, and Toy Story 3, with two awards, and Black Swan, God of Love, In a Better World, Inside Job, The Lost Thing, Strangers No More, and The Wolfman with one. The telecast garnered almost 38 million viewers in the United States.Bukowski (upcoming film)
Bukowski is an upcoming American biographical film. It retells the early years of writer Charles Bukowski. The film is to be directed by James Franco and stars Josh Peck as Charles Bukowski, Tim Blake Nelson as his father, Henry, and Alex Kingston as his mother, Katharina.Child of God (film)
Child of God is a 2013 American crime drama film co-written and directed by James Franco, and starring Scott Haze, based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. It was selected to be screened in the official competition at the 70th Venice International Film Festival and was an official selection of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The film made its United States premiere at the 51st New York Film Festival and then was screened at the 2013 Austin Film Festival.Franco (General Hospital)
Franco is a fictional character from the ABC Daytime drama General Hospital. James Franco originated the character in November 2009, after seeking out a soap opera role. He continued to portray the character in intermittent guest stints through January 2012. The character of Franco is a multi-media artist and serial killer who becomes fixated on Jason Morgan (Steve Burton), a known hitman. Franco terrorizes Jason, along with his friends and family. Jason supposedly kills Franco in January 2012, after Franco allegedly rapes Jason's wife Sam (Kelly Monaco). The character is mentioned often after his alleged death, and for a time it was believed that he was Jason's twin brother. In May 2013, Roger Howarth assumed the role when the character is revealed to be alive. Franco's return brought about the revelation that his biological parents are Scott Baldwin (Kin Shriner) and Heather Webber (Robin Mattson).
James Franco's casting on General Hospital was met by surprise and mixed reviews. Franco also used his time on the series to create a documentary that was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, and turned a scene filming at MOCA into a live performance piece. The attention Franco garnered boosted publicity for General Hospital and the soap opera genre.Homefront (film)
Homefront is a 2013 American action thriller film directed by Gary Fleder and released nationwide in theaters on November 27. Based on Chuck Logan's novel of the same name and adapted into a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone, the film stars Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, and Kate Bosworth. Filming began on October 1, 2012 in New Orleans.Howl (2010 film)
Howl is a 2010 American experimental film which explores both the Six Gallery debut and the 1957 obscenity trial of 20th-century American poet Allen Ginsberg's noted poem Howl. The film is written and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and stars James Franco as Ginsberg.In Dubious Battle (film)
In Dubious Battle is a 2016 drama film directed and produced by James Franco, loosely based on John Steinbeck's novel of the same name, with a screenplay by Matt Rager. The film features an ensemble cast, consisting of Franco, Nat Wolff, Josh Hutcherson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Robert Duvall, Selena Gomez, Keegan Allen and Ed Harris. The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 3, 2016.James Franco filmography
James Franco is an American actor who began acting on television, guest-starring in Pacific Blue (1997). He landed his breakthrough role in the comedy-drama television series Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000). After his film debut in Never Been Kissed (1999), Franco won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Film for playing the eponymous actor in the 2001 television biopic James Dean. He went on to play Harry Osborn in the superhero film Spider-Man (2002), and reprised the role in its sequels Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007). For the last of the three, he garnered a nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor. His only screen appearance of 2003 was in the ballet film The Company. Franco directed and starred in the comedy The Ape (2005).
After playing one of the titular roles in the romantic drama Tristan & Isolde (2006), Franco starred in the Tony Bill-directed war drama Flyboys (2006). Two years later, he played against type in the action-comedy film Pineapple Express, and earned critical acclaim for portraying Scott Smith in the biographical film Milk alongside Sean Penn. For the former, he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Comedy. Franco portrayed the trapped canyoneer Aron Ralston in 127 Hours (2010), a survival drama, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination. Franco appeared in four films in 2011, including the poorly-received fantasy film Your Highness, and the science fiction film Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), a critical and commercial success.Franco had six roles in 2012 none of which had much success except the crime-comedy film Spring Breakers, in which he played a gangster to highly positive reviews. The following year, Franco played the titular role in the fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful, and the disaster film This Is the End saw him play a fictional version of himself. For the first one, he was nominated for the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actor - Fantasy. Also in 2013, he directed and starred in the drama As I Lay Dying. He starred in the action thriller Good People (2014), an adaptation of Marcus Sakey's 2008 novel of the same name. In the 2014 controversial satirical comedy The Interview, he was seen as a journalist instructed to assassinate a North Korean leader. He had nine film releases in 2015, most of which failed financially except the animated film The Little Prince, a modest commercial success.Jim Parrack
Jim Parrack (born February 8, 1981) is an American actor. He had a starring role as Hoyt Fortenberry in HBO series True Blood, and appeared in the film Battle: Los Angeles, which was released in March 2011. He also appeared as "Slim" in the 2014 Broadway production of Of Mice and Men alongside James Franco, Chris O'Dowd and Leighton Meester.Klaus and Greta
"Klaus and Greta" is the ninth episode of the fourth season of the American television comedy series 30 Rock. It was written by co-showrunner and executive producer Robert Carlock and directed by Gail Mancuso. The episode originally aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network in the United States on January 14, 2010. Guest stars in this episode include James Franco, Matt Lauer, and Jeffery Self. "Klaus and Greta" aired out of its usual timeslot with "Black Light Attack!" following it in the regular timeslot.
Following a crazy New Year's Eve party, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) leaves a message on his high school sweetheart's answering machine and decides to break into her home with Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer), while she is on vacation. At the same time, Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) starts up a fake relationship with actor James Franco in order to counteract rumors that he is in love with a Japanese body pillow. Meanwhile, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) accidentally outs her cousin (Jeffery Self) at her New Year's Eve party, so he decides to live with her in New York.
"Klaus and Greta" was generally, though not universally, well received among television critics. According to the Nielsen Media Research, the episode was watched by 5.122 million households during its original broadcast, and received a 2.3 rating/6 share among viewers in the 18–49 demographic. "Klaus and Greta" won the award for Outstanding Individual Episode at the 22nd GLAAD Media Awards.Saturday Night (2010 film)
Saturday Night is a 2010 documentary directed by James Franco. The film examines the production process of the NBC late-night live television sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live. Shot over a period of six days from December 1–6, 2008, the film was originally a school assignment for Franco at New York University.
The film premiered at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival on March 14, 2010, but was shelved for several years due to legal matters regarding its distributor and NBC. It was released on September 26, 2014 on Hulu.Seth Rogen
Seth Aaron Rogen (; born April 15, 1982) is a Canadian-American actor, voice actor, stand-up comedian, writer, producer, and director. He began his career performing stand-up comedy during his teenage years. While still living in his native Vancouver, he landed a supporting role in Judd Apatow's series Freaks and Geeks. Shortly after he moved to Los Angeles for his role, Freaks and Geeks was officially cancelled after one season due to low viewership. Rogen later got a part on sitcom Undeclared, which also hired him as a writer.
After landing his job as a staff writer on the final season of Da Ali G Show, Apatow guided him toward a film career. Rogen made his first movie appearance in Donnie Darko with a minor role in 2001. Rogen was cast in a supporting role and credited as a co-producer in Apatow's directorial debut, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Universal Pictures subsequently cast him as the lead in Apatow's films Knocked Up and Funny People. Rogen co-starred as Steve Wozniak in Universal's Steve Jobs biopic in 2015. In 2016, he developed the AMC television series Preacher with his writing partner Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin. He also serves as a writer, executive producer, and director, with Goldberg.
Rogen and Goldberg co-wrote the films Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet, This Is the End, and directed both This Is the End and The Interview; all of which Rogen starred in. He has also done voice work for the films Horton Hears a Who!, the Kung Fu Panda film series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Monsters vs. Aliens, Paul, Sausage Party, and will provide the voice of Pumbaa in the 2019 remake of The Lion King.Spring Breakers
Spring Breakers is a 2012 American crime film written and directed by Harmony Korine. It stars James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine and follows four college-aged girls on their spring break in Florida where they meet an eccentric local drug dealer named Alien who helps them in a time of desperation, and their eventual descent into a world of drugs, crime, and violence.Korine had devised the concept for Spring Breakers over several years prior to production, with fleeting ideas about the plot and what should transpire. His initial desire was to create a "sensory film" that was more about feeling than action and placed little importance on narrative or plot, the idea for which came later. Once Korine developed the backbone of the story, which takes place around the American spring break period, he travelled to Florida to write the screenplay. Production began in 2012, on an estimated budget of $5 million, making it Korine's second most expensive film to date. The film is also one of Korine's first theatrical works to receive a wide release.Spring Breakers was released on March 22, 2013 in the United States by A24 and grossed $31 million worldwide, making it a resounding success considering the small budget. It received generally positive reviews from film critics, with some calling it a potential cult classic. The film was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 69th Venice International Film Festival. Critics and scholars have read deeper meaning in the film's plot, commenting on its reflection of modern-day superficiality and the younger generation's obsession with highly stylised, disposable pop culture media and sensory ephemera. It ranks in BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century. A sequel, under the name of Spring Breakers: The Second Coming, was announced for an undated release. Jonas Åkerlund was confirmed to direct with Irvine Welsh penning the script, without the involvement of Korine or the original cast.The Disaster Artist (film)
The Disaster Artist is a 2017 American biographical comedy film produced and directed by James Franco. Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the film is an adaptation of Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell's 2013 non-fiction book of the same name, and chronicles the unlikely friendship between budding actors Tommy Wiseau and Sestero, which results in the production of Wiseau's 2003 film The Room, widely considered one of the worst films ever made. The film stars brothers James and Dave Franco as Wiseau and Sestero, respectively, alongside a supporting cast featuring Seth Rogen (who also produced), Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, and Jacki Weaver.
Principal photography began on December 8, 2015. A work-in-progress cut of the film premiered at South by Southwest on March 12, 2017; it was later screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, and also played at the 2017 San Sebastián International Film Festival, where it became the first American film to win its top prize, the Golden Shell, since A Thousand Years of Good Prayers in 2007.Distributed by A24 in the United States and Warner Bros. in international markets, The Disaster Artist began a limited release on December 1, 2017, before opening wide on December 8, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics, with James Franco's portrayal of Wiseau as well as the film's humor and screenplay receiving praise, and was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2017. At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, James Franco won the award for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy; the film was also nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Franco also received a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the film earned a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 90th Academy Awards.The Long Home
The Long Home is an upcoming indie drama film directed by and starring James Franco, based on the novel of the same name by William Gay. It also stars Josh Hutcherson, Tim Blake Nelson, Courtney Love, Timothy Hutton, Giancarlo Esposito, Ashton Kutcher, Josh Hartnett, Zoe Levin, Analeigh Tipton, Scott Haze, and Robin Lord Taylor. Principal photography began on May 1, 2015.Your Highness
Your Highness is a 2011 American stoner comic fantasy film directed by David Gordon Green and starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, and Justin Theroux. Written by McBride and Ben Best, the film was released on April 8, 2011.The film received negative reviews from critics and was a box office bomb, grossing $28 million worldwide against a $50 million budget.Zeroville (film)
Zeroville is an upcoming American comedy-drama film directed by James Franco, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Steve Erickson. The film stars Franco, Seth Rogen, Jacki Weaver, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell and Danny McBride. Filming began on October 24, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Films directed by James Franco