I'd heard rumblings that James Franco wasn't your average silver-screen heartthrob, but I figured that just meant he's read Proust or paints with gouache or owns two wineries or something. Turns out no. He's actually some sort of superhuman artist-academic. Alex Mann passed me this profile of him by Sam Anderson, my favorite New York Magazine writer. The fifteen choicest bits follow:
- "We’ve just finished listening to a
lecture by the performance artist Marina Abramovic — a talk Franco
- "He’s trying to nail down the details of an art
show that will be based, somehow, on his recent performance on the soap
opera General Hospital."
- "He has class every day —
since he’s enrolled in four graduate programs at once"
of his student films, he tells me, have been adaptations of poems"
he flirting with me, or metaflirting — making a sly reference to all
the gay rumors swirling around him"
- "An unusual actor — he
overprepared for minor roles, read Dostoyevsky and Proust between takes,
and occasionally drove colleagues crazy with his intensity"
persuaded his advisers to let him exceed the maximum course load, then
proceeded to take 62 credits a quarter, roughly three times the normal
- "He’s engineered his life so he can spend all his
time either making or learning about art."
- "This is, no
doubt, mildly insane, even if it’s a form of insanity many of us might
want to have."
- "He’s not a savant or an obvious genius —
he’s someone of mortal abilities who seems to be working immortally
- "One of the central points of Franco’s art and
career, as I read them, is that adolescence isn’t something we should
look away from, a shameful churning of dirty hormones. It’s the crucible
of our identity, the answer to everything that comes later"
he gave up trying to control his acting career, everything kind of came
- "as he slides further along the continuum from
Gyllenhaal to Warhol — his entire career is beginning to look less like
an actual career than like some kind of gonzo performance piece"
an earnest guy, Franco has always been ragingly addicted to meta."
- "It’s either hypocrisy or complexity, self-delusion or radical self-acceptance. It’s the defining fault line of his career, the source of much of his energy. Were he to resolve it in one direction or the other, he might cease to be so interesting."