The Amazing and Unique Life of Actor James Franco


A most educated and interesting fellow, is James Franco.  To wit:

Though he was a drab, aloof co-host of the Academy Awards in 2011, my interest in Franco’s career and life picked up again when I learned he was directing a film on Faulkner’s book, As I Lay Dying (2013).  Upon reading up on Franco some more, I was surprised – indeed stunned – to learn many things about his life:

As a mathematician, Franco interned at Lockheed Martin in the Bay Area, having gone to high school in Palo Alto (during which he acted in plays and had several scrapes with the law).  After several acting jobs, he landed the lead role in the 2001 TV Biop on James Dean.  To immerse himself in the part a learned to ride a motorcycle, and play the guitar and bongos.  For the part, he was nominated for and Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award.  His career took off and you know or can look up the rest, on through his Academy Award nomination for 127 Hours (along with another Golden Globe and SAG award).

Things I recently learned though that blew my mind:  Franco exhibited video, drawing, and sculptures in a solo gallery show at Clocktower Gallery in New York City. Having painted since high school, his paintings were displayed at the GlU Gallery in Los Angeles, and at Peres Projects in Berlin.   While many of his college credits at UCLA were from independent study for his involvement in films, he received permission to take as many at 62 credits per quarter(!) to wrap up a degree.  Besides English and Acting, he studied French, American Literature, Philosophy of Science, the Holocaust, and other things.  He took his degree in 2008, then moved to New York and SIMULTANEOUSLY attended graduate school at Columbia, NY’s University’s Tisch School for the Arts for filmmaking, Brooklyn College for writing, and a low-residency MFA program for writers – for poetry – at North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College.  He received in MFA from Columbia in 2010, attended the Rhode Island School of Design, and is simultaneously pursuing two PhD’s – one from Yale (English), and one from the University of Houston (Literature and Creative Writing).

Franco has directed short films, dance theater, and docudrama.  He has taught classes on screenwriting and filmmaking & production at New York University, UCLA, and the University of Southern California.  He also taught a course on modifying poetry  into short films to graduate students at NYU.  Of all places, Franco began teaching a film course this month (Sept 2015) at Palo Alto High School.  Even though he’s an odd duck, he does charity work, education, and clearly loves to teach in his spare time.  He likes to read James Joyce, the IIiad, and other such famous works between takes on a film set.

Franco made his Broadway debut last year in Of Mice and Men.

That’s new you can use on a most fascinating fellow, like him or not.  Stay tuned for sports and weather.

Roy Hovey


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