Welcome to May, and the fourth edition of The Franco Files! This most recent addition to the site takes an in-depth look at an actor and how that individual helps shape a film in whatever capacity they are able to, whether it be the lead or a supporting role type. Originally I was drawing this little feature up as a way to express the ways in which I love James Franco. This was supposed to be the place where I shouted my appreciation for the Palo Alto-born actor’s efforts from the top of a mountain.
Actually it still is, but I guess I’m discovering that I’m much less familiar with his body of work than I previously thought. TFF, as it is turning out, is becoming an educational tool for me as well as a platform from which I can still, yes, wax poetic about. . .you know, that thing he does. Considering we are only on the fourth edition here, I’m finding that I am going to have to do more research on the guy than I thought. I’m pretty sure I’m already running low on performances that I know like the back of my hand.
But that’s okay, though. I’m happy with having to do a little more digging before jumping into a discussion of some of his more obscure performances here in a little while. Not all of the things he’s been in are highly accessible productions, either. And then there’s always the constant influx of new movies he’s in, or helping to make. Like Palo Alto (released this weekend), an interesting-sounding story in which he appears to be involved in both capacities.
Francophile #4: James Franco, This is the End
Role Type: Supporting
Character Profile: James Franco’s James Franco
might will be the most meta thing he’s ever done. Then again, he was only doing his job as per This is the End‘s script, the very ridiculous story of a group of Hollywood friends who hold up in Franco’s house as the apocalypse unfolds quite literally on the doorstep. Like his co-stars, Franco plays a trumped-up version of himself that tends to exaggerate the negative qualities of his real-life celebrity. For example, there’s a sweater Franco wears throughout the film that screams “You should hate me for wearing this, but you know you want one too.” Then there’s his fascination with art. One gets the sense the REAL Franco could very well be half-hipster, given his affinity for style and appreciation of the visual arts. (Not to mention, his home, which I referred to as his fortress in my review, is the product of geometric obsession.) He’s sinful, silly and sensational all at once — a thoroughly clever creation.
If you lose Franco, the film loses: quite literally that — the James Franco factor. Despite a grab-bag of hilarious characters to latch onto, his is actually quite key to the film. Much of the plot development hinges around his character and particularly his home. But more importantly, he feels part of this crew of comedians who have known one another for a long time. There’s an undeniable chemistry he holds with everyone involved, and there’s a very particular reason for that. If Franco goes, everyone goes. The project ceases to exist.
Out of Character: “People know I’m interested in art. I just went to school for it and for a while I was collecting [art] — I sold most of it awhile ago so I could go to school and not work so much. So it was kind of a funny idea that the Franco character would be collecting art, and Seth asked me if there was any particular artist that I wanted to have in the character’s house. And I thought, there’s a way to take this to a different level. There’s a painter that I really like named Josh Smith — his work is hard to place because a lot of it has a very humorous feel, even though it’s abstract work. Josh was interested. Not only interested, but wanted to create new work, and it would be special because it would be work that was only intended for this movie. And as Josh and I were talking, we came on the idea that we could do the paintings together. Josh and I spent two days together and we painted a lot, through the night, ten huge paintings and a bunch of little ones.”
Rated the Performance (relative to his other work):
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Photo credits: http://www.imdb.com