The snow is piling up on the streets of small-town Utah, and James Franco is talking about sex.
He is talking about sex in the way James Franco talks about sex: as a narrative tool, as a humanizing mechanism, as a way to help us understand academic differences between film and literature.
“We’ve been using violence as a storytelling device for decades, but we’ve only just begun to use sex that way instead of as simply something to shock,” he says, responding to a straightforward interview question with a disquisition on sexuality and film. Despite Franco’s charm and disheveled good looks, there is something clinical, earnest, unsexy about him. Hearing him talk about sex is like hearing one of the world’s great chefs talk about fine food and feeling no discernible appetite.
The previous evening, Franco had shown his documentary “Kink,” about a fetish website, to a midnight audience at the Sundance Film Festival. The audience was uncomfortable, in a way that midnight Sundance audiences are seldom uncomfortable. Watching them from the back of the theater, Franco found himself surprised. But as he reflects on it now, he does not primarily see in the audience’s reaction a comment on sexuality. He sees a difference between the novelistic and the cinematic.
As part of YouTube’s “Comedy Week,” Zach Galifianakis held a very special edition of his Funny or Die web series Between Two Ferns which starts out like a regular James Franco interview but then gets weird real quick. Lonely Island and Edward Norton co-star, which is great, because we haven’t seen those guys in forever.
We should have some sort of saying, a catch phrase we use to communicate the particular head-scratching pause we can experience on watching James Franco pilot his odd and wonderful career. “Ah, Franco,” maybe, when he seems to be purposefully failing to live up to our notions of a movie star. Or, “That’s Just James being James,” when, at the height of his bankability, he does 54 episodes of General Hospital, drops a short story collection, or takes time off to add yet another string to his triple-necked dilettante guitar.
We’d need a lot of lateral room in the saying, room enough to accommodate the whoa-factor of his Oscar-nominated performance in 127 Hours, and for the huh? when he sleepwalks through those Academy Awards, while hosting. Who else among the A-list elicits such a spectrum of interest and response? Who else, for that matter, looks to be enjoying themselves so thoroughly?
Could it be that Franco is our 21st Century court jester, trolling us all, and satirizing celebrity-industrial complex, or is he simply a playful and inquisitive 34-year-old PhD with stacks of cash to fund his continuing education? Is he really that blasé, walking through life the way he does a red carpet, blissed-out, not a care in the world, or is that carpet in fact his real stage, and fame this multi-hyphenate performer’s real medium?
James Franco has confessed he used to be extremely difficult to be around.
The actor has taken up interests such as painting and writing poetry and short stories outside of his Hollywood career.
James used to put too much pressure on his acting, which made him difficult to be around on movie sets.
“On the outside it seemed like I had a good life. But I wasn’t happy with who I was. Part of that was because of my on-set behaviour: making movies started to be very unpleasant both for me and the people I worked with,” James admitted to British newspaper The Telegraph.
“Because acting was my only professional outlet, I put a ton of pressure on the roles that I did. I overstepped my bounds, I tried to control things that were out of my purview as an actor and in some cases even tried to direct my scenes because I felt I knew how they should run rather than trust the director.”
The 34-year-old decided to go back to school and study for a master’s degree. He now teaches classes himself and says these new methods of expressing himself have made him happier.
“I went back to school and it opened up all these other outlets. [Am I happier now?] Incredibly. A million times more,” James smiled.
“After 16 years in the business, I’ve come to understand success in a different way. I think I have had a change of heart and changed the way I do things.”
The next stop for the Oz promo tour was Tokyo, Japan on February 20. James attended the premiere alongside director Sam Rami and co-star Rachel Rachel Weisz. Several photos from the premiere as well as James arriving in Japan have been added to the gallery.
Back on February 13, James arrived in style (via hot air balloon) to the Los Angeles premiere (the first of many premieres) of Oz: The Great and Powerful. Photos of James walking the Yellow Brick Road have been added to the gallery.
And here are some red carpet videos.
Here’s a quick roundup of several video interviews of James from the Oz: The Great and Powerful press junket.
In case you missed James’ appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, you can check it out below!
If you haven’t heard already, James is on the cover of the March issue of Details Magazine! The site has a pretty lengthy interview with James on their site. You can read a bit of it below.
James Franco is trying to remember why he was in Paris that summer, five, six years ago. He’s spent the past few minutes explaining, without pause, how it all came together for him there, a kind of eureka moment, and he started to become this A-list actor/eternal grad student/writer/avant-garde artist-filmmaker/soap-opera regular James Franco character that everyone appears to be so confused by. Now, if he could just remember why he was in Paris.
“I thought I was going to have to learn French because . . . Damn, why did I think I had to learn French?”
Franco has this stonerlike way of zoning out, then talking in Faulkner-length paragraphs. They take you places, then other places, and times—his native Palo Alto, Hollywood, New York, New Haven (where he’s currently working on his Ph.D. in English at Yale). And at this moment, to Paris, in what I’m construing was 2008. In this pause, the first since we sat down for coffee an hour ago, Franco looks up at nearby tables in the Restaurant at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, where everyone’s suddenly busy pretending he’s not there, and I look down at my five pages of questions for him, sitting where they were when we first shook hands. A half-hour from now, when we agree to meet up again at the Warhol show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (his idea) and perhaps write a poem together (mine), they’re still sitting there.
Franco is about to re-enter the mass consciousness, with six films slated to open in 2013, including Sam Raimi’s prequel to The Wizard of Oz, Oz the Great and Powerful. I’ve been boning up on him—no easy task: The places and times of Franco’s life at 34 are so much more far-flung and numerous than you might imagine. But the thrust of my five-page “questionnaire,” as he calls it, is reducible to a simple question: Is this a serious post-Warhol actor/meta-celebrity or just another actor gaming his celebrity? And in either case, what is Franco trying to do?
As I’ll learn, it’s exactly the question he has been trying to answer. Because he’s been puzzling his own way through it since that summer in Paris . . .
Directors Christina Voros and Travis Matthews join James Franco to discuss their new movies premiering at Sundance.