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Actor – James Franco

Renaissance Man

From taking the lead Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours to portraying poet Allen Ginsberg in Howl, directing his own films, publishing his first book and presenting the Oscars; James Franco reveals why there’s no room for compromise in his career…

For an actor best known as Peter Parker’s pal in Spider- Man, James Franco is finally taking centre stage. This month, you can see the 32 year old portray trapped climber Aron Ralston in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, a role for which he’s received a Golden Globe nomination. He’ll follow this by playing Allen Ginsberg in Howl, a film about the obscenity trial surrounding the Beat writer’s most famous poem, before co-hosting the Oscars with Anne Hathaway at the end of February. And for good measure, his first collection of short stories, Palo Alto—which takes its name from the California city where he grew up—has just been published. It begs the question: is there anything James Franco can’t do?

With Aron trapped in a canyon for much of the film, 127 Hours sees you act almost entirely on your own. How did you find that?
It was unusual, and it was unusual for me. Normally, you do a scene as an actor and you’re acting opposite another performer. That’s where you react from, where you generate the scene in a way. All the material of the scene is just coming across from these interactions. When you don’t have that, there’s nothing in front of you. The camera is right there, right in front of my face. Normally, you do a scene and you forget the camera in a way. You play the scene. You don’t think ‘The camera is right there.’

So did the camera become your co-star?
No, in a weird way the operators and the cinematographer almost became my co-stars. I’m performing activities, and I’m focused on these activities. But meanwhile, the only other people in the canyon with me, for most of the time, were the operators. Because these cameras are so mobile, they’re hand-held and can really go anywhere in that little space. So as I was doing these scenes, they would be reacting to me.

Did you start to feel cabin fever?
I didn’t think that I would but I did. A friend of mine from NYU came out and made a documentary, and we just recently watched what she put together. There’s a part in it where Danny [Boyle] is asking me how I’m doing. And I’m like, ‘I think I lost it yesterday.’ When I look back, it was an amazing experience. But that documentary showed me it was taking a toll, going into this space day after day, set not changing, for a month at least. And the nature of the material was very intense.

contunues in movieScope magazine, issue 20

 

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