With his trademark pie eyed grin and hooded eyes it’s no wonder that James Franco first became famous for his portrayal of Daniel Desario in the highly acclaimed, although tragically short-lived TV series, Freaks and Geeks, alongside other up-and-comers including Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, and Busy Philipps.
Despite being typecast, particularly in the early years of his career, as a slacker/stoner or spoiled rich kid, he’s one of the most motivated celebrities in Tinsel Town. Although he’s only been in the limelight for just over 15 years, the star can be seen working tirelessly on project after project, being able to claim over 134 acting credits, 36 director credits, and 25 writing credits over the years. The momentum that he’s built surrounding his academic, cinematic, and theatrical pursuits, doesn’t seem to be slowing, as he increases the breadth and depth of his personal projects.
Even though he is a self-proclaimed work-horse, in just about every aspect of his life, there is something about him that is super relatable. Franco maintains his sense of humour, and his ability to laugh at himself, which adds to his charm. In 2013, 3.1 million US viewers tuned in to watch The Comedy Central Roast of James Franco, in which he was comically celebrated and lambasted by roasters including Aziz Ansari, Jonah Hill, Sarah Silverman, and Andy Samberg, and took it all, on the chin, with aplomb.
James is never boring and he continues to keep us talking. Let’s take a moment to dive into the myriad of unusual facts about Mr. James Franco.
James Franco, born in Palo Alto, California on April 19, 1978 is the eldest of three brothers. His heritage is Russian-Jewish on his mother writer/editor Betsy Levine’s side, and Portuguese and Swedish on his father, Doug Franco’s side.
His family upbringing was very academically focused and his parents weren’t exactly thrilled when he dropped out of UCLA, where he was majoring in English, to pursue acting after his first year of studies. His parents refused to financially support this decision, and the former vegetarian bit into his first meaty roll working at McDonald's to help support his acting aspirations.
14 Breaking The Law
13 Team Edward
Franco is an avid reader and has confessed to reading the entire Stephanie Meyers Twilight series. James Franco fully disclosed that his Twilight loyalties lie with Team Edward. Perhaps his affections for the brooding vampire have something to do with his own name. James’s family affectionately calls the actor “Ted,” a shortened version of Teddy Bear, a nickname based on the shortening of his middle name.
As a writer and cunning linguist, Franco says his favourite word of all time is “scotch” simply because he likes the way it sounds. A linguistic pet peeve is reading a book or story peppered with the expressions “I thought” or “he said."
In-between filming of The Interview, James was preparing for his oral exams in English Literature at Yale and spent most of his spare time reading Edgar Allan Poe’s The Philosophy of Composition and The Narrative of Pym of Nantucket (a Moby Dick-type story).
12 What He’ll Do For A Role
Franco likes to immerse himself into the characters he’s playing and is willing to make personal sacrifices for the roles he takes on. To better embody the Rebel Without A Cause James Dean in the 2001 TNT cable biopic the young rising star took up smoking two packs of cigarettes each day to prepare. Not previously being a smoker, he butted out the habit shortly after. His commitment to the craft paid off when he earned a 2002 Golden Globe Award for best actor for his performance in the pic.
To get ready for his role as a drug addict in City by the Sea, he decided to live on the streets for several days. In preparing for his role for the 2006 film Flyboys, Franco took to the sky and earned his pilot’s license, and he shadowed a male prostitute to help prepare for his role in Sonny. He has also trained in horseback riding and sword fighting to prepare for the film Tristan & Isolde, but unfortunately many of the scenes he worked so hard to prepare for were cut from the film.
11 His Award of Stoner of the Year Was Just Blowing Smoke
In the 2008 film, Pineapple Express Franco played Saul Silver, the drug dealer with a heart of gold. Saul only sells weed, and does so to help pay for a good retirement home for his beloved Bubby (grandma). Originally, the part of Saul was supposed to be played by Seth Rogen, with Franco to play the character of Dale Denton. However, when Franco met up with Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen he convinced them that he really wanted to play Saul, and they decided to just roll with it.
10 He’s A Soap Opera Star
In 2009 he became a part of the cast of the daytime soap General Hospital with a recurring role that got audiences talking. He played Franco, a mysterious multimedia artist (much like the real James Franco) who joined the residents of the fictional city of Port Charles. The character Franco became entangled in their lives for a character arc that spanned three years and 54 episodes before concluding in 2012. His real life mother, Betsy Franco, played the artist’s mother on the show as well.
9 He May Not Be The Best On-screen Kisser
8 Setting The Record “Straight” On Franco’s Sexuality
7 He Wanted To Be Spider-Man
We all have superhero aspirations at one time or another, and James Franco’s was to portray Spider-Man in the 2002 film. Although he didn’t land the role of Spider-Man he was cast in the role of Harry Osborn, the spoiled son of the villain, The Green Goblin. James Franco returned, reprising the role for Spider-Man 2 in 2004 and Spider-Man 3 in 2007.
Known for his multi-tasking abilities, James had re-enrolled at UCLA in 2006 for English, with an accelerated course load and earned a number of his degree credits for his independent study for his work on the set of Spider-Man 3.
6 Scholastic Achievements
Two years after re-enrolling at UCLA, and because of the heavy course load he took on, James managed to graduate quickly with a solid grade point average of 3.5. Next he went on to simultaneously complete four different graduate school and academic programs: Columbia University for their MFA writing program, New York University’s Tisch School for Fine Arts for filmmaking, Brooklyn College for fiction writing, and the low-residency MFA Program for Writers at North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College for Poetry.
He received a “D” grade in a Directing the Actor class in his New York University program for missing a total of 12 of the 14 scheduled sessions because he was filming 127 Hours.
5 He Has A Weird Obsession With Ryan Gosling
4 No. Sleep. For Franco
3 He’s A Visual Artist
2 Writer And Director Hobbies
1 Awards And Nominations
In 2013, James Franco received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at the age of 34. He has won numerous awards and award nominations over the years. He was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Performance for his work in 127 Hours. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical for his performance in Pineapple Express. He has been nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards, the BAFTA Film Awards, and by the Cannes Film Festival. He won a Teddy at the Berlin International Film Festival for Best Short Film for The Feast of Stephen and won a shared Best Acting Ensemble Award for his work on Milk (he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the film). With so much great work under his belt, we have to wonder, what’s he going to do next?
Sources: Ew, Biography, Huffington Post, Crushable
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