The Franco Files #9


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

Genre: Drama/Sci-fi

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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15 thoughts on “The Franco Files #9

  1. Pingback: The Franco Files #11 | digitalshortbread

  2. Oh noooo the Franco Files are ending??? How sad!!! But I can see your point–other actors need attention, too, I suppose. BRING ON THE CUMBERBATCH CASES!!!! 😉 Lol. This role is another nice choice here. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about RotPotA, but it’s really is surprisingly good, and I think Franco’s performance undoubtedly contributes to that. I was thrilled to see his brief little cameo (if you can call it that) in Dawn, but, not gonna lie, I was hoping we’d learn a little bit more about what happened to him. I want to see more of him and Caesar! Anyway, great job here, Tom! Can’t wait to see your next actor choice. 🙂


    • OOOO!!!!!!! I like the idea Cara.

      I think you have officially introduced a possible 12 Cases of Cumberbatch. That’s got a really cool ring to it! 😉 I’ll have to credit you in every one of those posts now. Haha!

      I am glad you approve the choice, there was no real way I could avoid this career-making role in a dramatic blockbuster. The chemistry between him and Serkis’ Caesar is beyond amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • For serious?!?!?! SCORE!!!! 😀 I fully support this. However, my feelings won’t be hurt if you go with someone else. You have about a bajillion options. Lol.

        Yeah, Franco really makes it work with Caesar, huh? I’ve been impressed by how Rise and Dawn have been able to flesh out the human/ape relationships. Just a great franchise so far.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Absolutey has been a great franchise, even though it has obviously taken a radical different path from the original series. But this is one I really approve of doing so for a modern context. It’s been great. I just now saw a teaser image of Serkis for the upcoming one. Looks awesome, even though the teaser is just one image. lol. Talk about starting the hype early. . .

          As far as the new version of TFF, it is a very good possibility I’ll go with Cumberbatch, I’ve been meaning to turn attention to him more in my movie watching anyway. Just haven’t gotten around to doing so yet. 🙂 You’ll be the first to know when it happens!!!!!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re right, he’s great in this. Really good franchise reboot too – how often does that happen? Franco Files has been fun Tom! You going to shine the spotlight on someone else in the new year?



    • Oh you bet I am man. Currently trying to come up with some other very cheesy name to call it. And of course, the proper actor to turn the spotlight to. Thanks so much for reading buddy.


    • Love that man. ‘Franco gives great Franco’ haha. Perfect. 🙂

      This film (and this franchise thus far) is just top-dollar. I love it and the addition of Franco to Rise was nice. Wish he could have stuck around longer.


    • Thank you kindly Abbi, I did too and thought Franco really helped make it a watchable one. Of course, there’s always Caesar. But then again, that maybe gives Franco more credit. The fact we want to watch him and Andy Serkis’ perfectly CGI-ed ape in equal measure means he did his job.


  4. Love the quote you included at the end! I believe that about Andy Serkis – he’s such a talented actor. But speaking of the man of the hour, Franco, I would agree that he made Rise a very enjoyable film. I went to see Rise BECAUSE Franco was in it. Definitely a better performance of his! And eleven posts ain’t bad at all, Tom! I’m excited to see who you’re going to start blogging about next in this series.


    • Why thank you, there were many good choices of quotes to go from but that one I found quite amusing. 🙂

      Franco is one of my favorites, for sure. Hence the feature, I suppose. 😛 But yeah I completely side with ya on him here; he makes his character so trustworthy that it’s tragic what happens and there’s the strong emotional connection to Rise, at least I think so. It’s also what Serkis is able to do; yes, but as far as the humans go, in the movie where it’s more focused on the human side (rather than Dawn where its arguably more about the apes) James Franco is great.

      Thanks for the support Kristen, glad to have u on board for TFF. We’ll have to see what’s next for sure

      Liked by 1 person

      • Looking forward to the future in the feature! And good comparison on the two latest apes films. I definitely see how Dawn has more focus on the apes, whereas Rise was focused on the humans.


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