James Franco. Photo: Magnus Sundholm for the HFPA.
  • Golden Globe Awards

James Franco – 75th Golden Globes Nominee

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (The Disaster Artist)

When James Franco decided to make The Disaster Artist, a film about a film gone completely wrong, he discovered that there was a side of the unfortunate filmmaker that he respected and was drawn to: Tommy Wiseau, the director of Room, which has been called the worst movie of all time, was a dreamer. Maybe Franco also felt so drawn to Wiseau because it reminded him of his own failures. Franco is the first to admit that he did not always pick the best projects. As he approaches 40, he speaks of his professional life and what he learned from it in terms of chapters. Not surprisingly, since Franco has studied creative writing and has published several literary books such as Palo Alto from 2010 and A California Children in 2013.“The first chapter was that you just go for things and you just take what you can get. I was fortunate enough that I didn’t have to do much and there was a lot of auditioning, but maybe after a year and a half, two years of auditioning, I got on Freaks and Geeks.” Following that revered cult sitcom, which also starred his friend and long-time collaborator Seth Rogen, Franco got his big break with the role of iconic actor James Dean in the critically acclaimed TV-biopic James Dean (2001). It earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor. This set off the second chapter in Franco’s career. Now, he was offered things and did not know how to depend on his own artistic sensibility and his own taste. “I was listening too much to voices which said you need to follow this or this path to get a career. And it made me feel kind of hollow, because I worked really hard on these certain projects. But (A), I just shouldn’t have been doing them cause my heart wasn’t in it and (B), I had bad experiences making them. (C), they didn’t turn out well and nobody saw them. “Examples of self-avowed missteps are the little-seen World War 1 action drama Flyboys (2006), Annapolis (2006) and Tristan + Isolde (2006) most of which bombed. The Spiderman-films were exceptions to this rule – here he played the villain, Harry Osborn. “It was a really hard place for me like after doing a few of those movies. I was definitely depressed. That depression was compounded by the position I was in, because I had a career and on the surface, it seemed like my life was great.”At 28, Franco decided to go back to college and went to UCLA, where he graduated in 2008. Then he moved on to New York and later enrolled in four colleges: New York University for filmmaking, Columbia for fiction writing, Brooklyn College for fiction writing, and a poetry program at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. Today, he can also call himself by the title Ph.D. in English – from Yale. “It took a lot of pressure off of my career because then my whole identity wasn’t wrapped up in my acting and that I had this whole other thing. That’s how I saw that at the time. Now, I have sort of gone through a whole other chapter: When I like something, I just want more of it, whatever it might be.”One year, 2010, he made eight movies including Eat, Pray, Love, the Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl, the comedy Date Night, the short film Masculinity & Me which he wrote, directed and starred in and finally 127 Hours, which earned him an Oscar nomination. “Consciously or subconsciously, I had this belief from a very young age that my career was going to ultimately save me and that I would find lasting happiness if I achieved “X” and if I worked with this person and if I won this award. But I needed to figure out how to be okay with myself first. I believe that you have to develop some sort of spiritual life, and it is very simple: Learn how to give back to life.”