Welcome to October, and the ninth edition of The Franco Files! I suppose now would be a good time to make the announcement. I have decided that I will officially end this thread in December, effectively concluding this feature as we currently know it with 11 entries on December 10. I would continue into next year, but there are a few reasons I’d like to bring this to an end.
First and foremost, I have covered a good bit of ground with James Franco already. At this point I think most of the entries are going to be turning towards discussing new roles (there are a few old ones I would have probably overlooked), so I think it’d be best to keep this as a look back at what he’s done, rather than a constant update on his new stuff. There are regular reviews for that. 🙂 Secondly, there are too many other actors/actresses I would like to shine a spotlight on as well so unfortunately James’ time in the light must come to an end. Third, I think finishing this particular thread in December just makes the most sense. My only regret is not starting it off in January, so that way I would have had a full year dedicated to this. Still, 11 months ain’t bad.
Francophile #9: Will Rodman, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Role Type: Lead
Character Profile: Will Rodman is a scientist at the Gen-Sys labs, five years into a project aimed at curing Alzheimer’s, which his father tragically is succumbing to. He’s a hard-working, good man whose work ethic dictates decency, even if his experiment would ultimately lead to a global catastrophe in the form of the simian flu (code-named ALZ-112 in the lab). Under Rodman’s direction, an ape imported from Africa is injected with the virus to ascertain if the brain really does heal itself. When it’s later discovered in another ape — a baby chimp Will takes home — to actually do just that, plus generate increased levels of intelligence and awareness, the next logical step is to apply it to the human brain. Will concocts a stronger version of the 112 formula and labels it 113, and then injects his increasingly despondent father with it, with disastrous consequences. With Will there are many questionable tactics used but ultimately, and given everything that goes down in Rise of the Planet of the Apes‘ brilliant sequel, of course we know that he didn’t mean for any of this to happen. As his bond with Caesar (the baby chimp he saved from death at the hands of scientists wanting to shut down the experiment at Gen-Sys) matures and evolves to the point of a heartbreak, we know this to be true.
If you lose Franco, the film loses: the reason why we care about Caesar in this film. Mr. Franco puts in some hard work to effect a strong relationship forged between man and ape, and in writing that sounds ridiculous but on-screen Franco, man oh man does he sell it. While it really is more about how Andy Serkis is able to capture our hearts that makes the film such a unique experience (that and the top-grade CGI), the basis for Caesar’s ultimate trajectory stems from how he was treated before he truly knew what and who he was. We have to thank Franco for giving Will Rodman enough gravitas to care about him as well as the ape.
Out of Character: “While we’re acting, [Andy]’s not in an ape suit, he’s in these gray pajama-looking things with censors all over his body and these dots on his face that will help the effects team read his expressions on the computer, so that everything that Andy is doing is captured. So you would think that acting opposite someone like that and trying to think of them as a chimpanzee would be difficult. But, from the first scene we had together on, it[s] easy, because Andy is so good at the behavior and he’s so connected to what he’s doing and — you know, the other actors — that he allows my imagination to take over, and I really can treat him as if he were a chimpanzee.”
Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):
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