The Franco Files — #4


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

Genre: Comedy

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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18 thoughts on “The Franco Files — #4

  1. Pingback: The Franco Files #11 | digitalshortbread

  2. YES. So glad you got to this role! Franco playing Franco is hilarious. I think this movie is a ton of fun, and I agree that a lot of that hinges on Franco. I’ve heard they’re considering doing a sequel to This Is the End? As much as I loved the film, I kind of hope that’s not true…


    • Aww!! Cara, thanks so much for the love you’re giving my little corner! 😀 I feel honored.

      I’m also glad you’ve found this latest installment. This role of his was definitely one to remember. But I swear if they make a sequel to this, I will probably balk. Loudly. There’s no reason for another one. Now I won’t turn down the opportunity to see a new story with roughly the same people in it, but we don’t need This is the End 2. Ugh. 🙂


      • I’m just sorry that I’ve been neglecting you!! As I said, I promise to always catch up. 🙂 Yeah I’m really hoping that rumor STAYS just a rumor. No official word on IMDb yet, so I’m looking at that as a good sign. Lol. But yeah I’d love to see them come together for a different project!


    • Fair’s fair, Chris. I loved This is the End but I find it does ultimately fall into that category of pretty damn juvenile, giddy humor that some may or may not find funny all of the time. It’s a film of my comic tastes and so I really latched on to it. Franco and Hill in particular were hysterical. Glad to see Franco was one of your favorite parts, too.


  3. I completely agree with everything you’ve said. Of all the characters in This is the End, Franco was my favorite. And that is saying A LOT.


    • Thank you Jess. Good to hear from you again. 🙂

      I agree, Franco was a big factor in the film’s enjoyability. I feel as though he’s put in more effort in other things before, but he’s clearly having a good time dramatizing himself here.


  4. James has been getting a little out of control lately. You know with the whole young girl thing and all! Although I do understand that it was to promote a film but damn ehh…

    Anyways, great write-up. This performance is likely my favorite of his. I will always remember him as Harry yet his comedic appeal in this one was very high. He stood his ground with actual funny men and did a great job! However, his roles in films such as Spring Breakers proved to be funny as well!


    • Hahaha! Yeah, I forgot about his recent public mishaps.

      I really liked This is the End, and with James Franco’s house being the “go-to place” for the party was fantastic. I really hope he’s as snobby as he is in this film. Lol!


      • I bet he is! Do you know who Edbassmaster is? A Youtube prankster? He just posted a video where he creeps Franco! The facial reactions are quite hilarious!


      • No, I don’t think i’ve heard that name before. I will need to czech that out though!


  5. Another fine piece in what’s proving to be an entertaining feature Tom. I gotta say that I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would. And Franco was a big reason for it.


    • Very kind of you to say man, thanks for always checking in on TFF! 🙂 And I would agree with you too, Franco is a big reason the chemistry worked so well between these guys. The overdramatizing of their real-life personalities was such a blast to watch.


  6. When you compare Seth Rogen comedies, This is the End is a better one overall than the current Neighbors. Neighbors is indeed very funny, but the plot can be reduced to: A fraternity and a family don’t get along. This is the End is quite inventive and unexpected. Great review!


    • Thanks. I agree, the plot to Neighbors is quite simplistic. This is the End was quite the stroke of genius, I thought. The riffing off of one another’s real personalities worked to great effect. I particularly liked Franco and Jonah Hill in this.


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