James did a photoshoot and interview with Blackbook, alongside his ‘I Am Michael‘ director. You can view the photos and read the interview below.
James Franco, the megastar, multi-hyphenate actor just blew Sundance away with his turn in I Am Michael, a film by first-time director Justin Kelly. For BlackBook, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, the writer of the magazine story that inspired the film, interviews the pair about their creative process.
ON THE EVENING of June 19, 2011, I received an email from prolific emailer James Franco: “Gus Van Sant and I read your piece in today’s NYT Magazine. Has anyone
optioned the rights to that story? Peace.”
If any actor is crazy enough — or interested in sexual identity enough — to try to make a movie about an ex-gay pastor living in Wyoming, it’s probably the sexually ambiguous Franco, who has said “I’m … gay in my life up to the point of intercourse,” and “I like that it’s so hard to define me.”
I Am Michael, the resulting fi lm by first-time director Justin Kelly — who also wrote the script — premiered at Sundance in January, and it is, in many ways, a reverse coming out story. It tells the complicated life story of Michael Glatze, an old friend and colleague of mine whose outspoken advocacy inspired a generation of gay youth before he rejected his homo-sexuality and urged others to do the same. “Homosexuality, delivered to young minds, is by its very nature pornographic,” he claimed, shocking those who knew him.
Recently, I sat down with Franco and Kelly to talk about why Michael’s story appealed to them, their innovative approach to telling it, and whether I Am Michael might be difficult to watch for those coming at the film from a political perspective.
BENOIT: You’ve both spent a lot of time talking publicly about this movie since it premiered at Sundance, but I trust you saved your best stuff for this conversation. Let’s do our best not to be boring.
JAMES: Well, this is the insider conversation. We were all part of making this movie happen.
JUSTIN: I’m bored already.
BENOIT: I’d like to begin by talking about intentions. When I decided to write about Michael, I had two intentions. First, I wanted — I needed — to figure out what happened to my former friend and colleague at XY magazine. How does a guy go from being a proud gay man who inspires young LGBT people to an ex-gay fundamentalist? Secondly, as a magazine writer, I sensed that Michael might make for a fascinating profile. I’m interested in both of your intentions for turning the
story into a film.
JAMES: For me, this all started with Gus [Van Sant]. Gus told me to read an article in The New York Times Magazine, and when I did I saw you wrote it. I thought that was cool, because I really liked the time you interviewed me for The Advocatein the poetry room at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.
BENOIT: Yeah, our talk that day happened to coincide with the Pride celebration in the city. While everyone was out partying, you
whispered gay poetry to me.
JAMES: Did I?
A24 has acquired U.S. rights to James Franco’s “The Adderall Diaries” following its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The seven-figure deal is part of A24’s alliance with DirecTV, under which the satcaster will be able to show the film prior to its theatrical release.
Based on the 2009 Stephen Elliott memoir of the same name, the film also stars Ed Harris, Amber Heard, Cynthia Nixon and Christian Slater. Franco plays Elliott, who begins following the story of a man standing trial for the murder of his wife and decides to write a book about it. He also becomes romantically involved with a reporter covering the trial.
Pamela Romanowsky directed. The film is co-produced by Rabbit Bandini Productions’ Franco and Vince Jolivette, and Windowseat Films producers Jim Reach and Joseph McKelheer.
WME Global and CAA handled the sale.
The acquisition was first reported by Deadline.com.
The Adderall Diaries was the first book James Franco optioned, but when it came time to bring Stephen Elliott’s best-selling memoir to the big screen, he offered it to his NYU grad-school pal Pamela Romanowsky, who wrote and directed the big-screen version for her feature directorial debut.
At the film’s world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday, Franco talked to The Hollywood Reporter about how his role in the project evolved and why he felt Romanowsky was the right person to take the reins.
Franco said he optioned the book, about an author with writer’s block and drug dependency who becomes obsessively involved with a high-profile murder case, “really because I just loved it.”
The actor, whose many projects across various media keep his schedule packed, soon realized that he wouldn’t be able to direct screen versions of everything he optioned.
“I was a little busy, so it took a year or two to get around to [Adderall Diaries], and then I started optioning a lot of books, and I had more projects that I wanted to do than I would ever be able to direct on my own,” he said. “So I started looking at my fellow classmates at NYU, people around me who I believed in. And I wanted to give them chances to direct, and one of the keys to that is pairing people up with projects they would be able to shine with.”
Of Romanowsky, whom Franco met when they were both in the MFA program at NYU — they made a short film together — the actor said, “I just thought Pamela was a great director, great sensibility, was great on set and that she would really make the most of this material, so I asked her if she would do it.”
It took Romanowsky a year or two to write the script, recalled Franco, with Romanowsky adding that she found crafting the screenplay to be the most difficult part of making her first feature, but Franco kept supporting her, reading drafts and kicking around ideas.
“He’s really important to me, one of my favorite humans, favorite collaborators, and he’s been with me every step of the way on this project,” she said.
“I thought it was so good that I wanted to be in it, and she wanted me to be in it,” Franco said of how he ended up starring in the film.
Go behind the scenes with cast members James Franco and Jonah Hill and uncover the real-life truth behind TRUE STORY.