James Franco strikes us as the kind of guy you’d want to get a beer with (or perhaps, as some of his film roles suggest, partake in other mind-altering substances with—Pineapple Express, anyone?). But lately Franco has begun to project another image: that of a serious filmmaker making seriously good films. With the world premiere of his latest movie, The Disaster Artist, at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Franco has inspired us to start to wonder if he’s the next George Clooney. Don’t believe us? Read on, we’ll prove that James Franco is basically unsinkable—and destined for even more success.
Starting off your career as a TV teen idol never bodes well, but Franco survived
Think about it: where are Dawson from Dawson’s Creek, Zack from Saved By The Bell, and Ben from Felicity now? Not everyone gets to be Jared Leto. Franco’s start on Freaks and Geeks could well have been his end. But it wasn’t.
And then there was that whole General Hospital thing
Has any Hollywood actor made a more baffling career move? We remember wondering ‘Is he messing with us? For… three years?’ Ditto, that stint on The Mindy Project, a great show, but Franco’s character? He was called Paul Leotard. Enough said. Still, people hired him to play serious roles, like Aron Ralston in 127 Hours.
This just in: James Franco to star in another stoner movie!
It’s never exactly breaking news when Franco re-teams with his Freaks and Geeks co-star Seth Rogen for a movie like Pineapple Express, This Is The End, The Interview (which was definitely conceived of while someone was very, very high), and Sausage Party, the ultimate munchies movie. His entire crew seems like a bunch of super successful stoners… oh wait, is that the secret?!?
He got caught up in the blockbuster machine for awhile and came out the other side
One Planet of the Apes gig, a couple of Spider-Man movies, and a Wizard of Oz prequel later, Franco seems to have left that world behind.
But what about rom-coms?
When Franco signed on to do Eat Pray Love we thought he might go the rom-com route à la Matthew McConaughey. Bullet: dodged.
Scan his CV and you’ll see that James Franco has been in some really great stuff
In 2015 Franco voiced the Fox in the arty, melancholic, beautifully crafted adaptation of The Little Prince. He also had a supporting role in Milk, which won two Oscars and was nominated for six more. And HBO is debuting a new series starring Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, in which he plays two characters (how very General Hospital!). The series, called The Deuce, is from the creative team behind The Wire and Treme. It’s set in ’70s-era New York and early reviews have been excellent.
His new movie, which he both directed and starred in, is a rare gem: a comedy with Oscar potential
The Disaster Artist is a hilarious retelling of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Never seen The Room? It doesn’t matter. The storytelling (based on a book written by Wiseau’s friend Greg Sestero) is crafted for long-time fans of the film and future ones. As an actor, Franco completely disappears into the role. It’s one of those rare instances where you can forget that you’re watching a star. As a director, he’s made a near-perfect film—it’s moving, sensitive to its subject, and very, very funny.
Etalk got up close and personal with James Franco at this year’s TIFF: