James Franco is a prominent American actor and director. He was born as James Edward Franco on April 19, 1978, in
Palo Alto, California, the USA to Betsy Lou, a writer-actress and Douglas Eugene Franco, who is running the Silicon Valley business. He was raised in California with his two brothers namely Tom and Dace (an actor). Franco is an intern at Lockheed Martin. His father usually encouraged him to get good grades, especially in SATs.
He completed his studies at Palo Alto High School in the year 1996. During his time in Palo Alto, Franco usually participates in school plays, which led him to attend the California State Summer School for the Arts in 1998. In high school, he was arrested for graffiti, underage drinking, and after stealing designer fragrances from the department stores, which he sold to his classmates. This led him to become the ward of the state, and as he is about to face the juvenile hall, the judge gave him another chance. Franco was interested in marine zoologist but deep inside of him, he wanted to become an actor. He majored English at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), but later drops out. He took an acting course at the Playhouse West and has also worked in McDonald’s late night shift so he can support himself. After a year and three months of training, he auditioned in Los Angeles.
His very first paid role was in Pizza Hut’s TV commercial, where he was featured as dancing,
Elvis Presley. Franco later had TV guest appearances, and his big break came after he was starred in the lead role on NBC’s Freaks and Geeks in 1999. However, due to low viewership, the show was canceled after running 18 episodes, but he described it as one of his most fun work. He was debuted as a film actor in the romantic comedy film, Never Been Kissed and later acted as Chris Campbell in the teen comedy film, Whatever It Takes. In 2001, he portrayed the role of
James Dean in the TV biographical film of the same name.
This film depicts the life of the 1950’s actor, James Dean; from his struggles to become an actor to an A-list movie star in Hollywood. He earned a nomination at the 8th Screen Actors Guild Awards and had won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film. In 2002, his portrayal as Harry Osborn in the American superhero film, Spiderman, earned him worldwide fame. Originally, he was considered to play the main lead in Spiderman, but the role was given to
Tobey Maguire. This was followed by the crime-drama film, Sonny. This film marks the directorial debut of actor, Nicholas Cage, who also made a cameo appearance in the film. In the very same year, he did the role of Joey LaMarca, a homeless drug addict, in Robert De Niro-starrer, City by the Sea. In 2003, he was co-starred with
Neve Campbell in The Company, a film about Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet.
He reprised his role as Harry Osborn in the Spiderman 2 (sequel of Spiderman) in 2004. It became the second highest-grossing film of the year and had proved to be a huge financial success. Subsequently, he was starred in The Ape and John Dahl’s war film, The Great Raid. In 2006, he was co-starred with Tyrese Gibson and
Jordana Brewster in Justin Lin’s drama film, Annapolis and acted as Tristan, a legendary hero, in the epic romantic drama film, Tristan & Isolde. Franco was trained for Private Pilot License as preparation for his character in British-American war drama film, Flyboys. Also in 2006, he made a short appearance in The Wicker Man and made a cameo appearance in
Nancy Meyers’ The Holiday. In 2007, he reprised his role for the third time in Spiderman 3. Contrary to the first two films that received positive reviews, Spiderman 3 met a mixed response from the critics. But it still managed to earn a worldwide gross of $891-million and became the most successful film in the Spiderman series. In the same year, he appeared as himself in the romantic comedy film, Knocked Up. He was starred in the independent rom-com film, Camille, opposite
Sienna Miller in the lead roles and played a voice role in Steve Buscemi’s Interview. Both films were ignored by the critics and audiences.
It was also in the year 2007 when he wrote, directed and starred in the drama film, Good Time Max. In 2008, Franco was co-starred with
Seth Rogen in the stoner action comedy film,
Pineapple Express, where he earned another nomination at the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. The Stoner of the Year Award by the High Times magazine was also presented to him for his brilliant performance in Pineapple Express. In the same year, he made appearances in two films by Carter, an American artist and were exhibited in Paris (Yvon Lambert gallery). He hosted
Saturday Night Live twice; first is on September 20, 2008, and the next one was on December 19, 2009. Franco was starred opposite
Emile Hirsch and
Diego Luna in the biographical film, Milk, which is based on the life of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist, and politician. His performance as Scott Smith, the lover of Sean Penn’s character in the film, earned him the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2009, he was cast in a recurring role in the daytime medical drama entitled General Hospital. He started the year 2010 with an appearance in the satirical TV sitcom, 30 Rock.
He was also seen in the successful comedy crime film,
Date Night, which stars
Steve Carell and
Tina Fey. He played as David in Julia Robert-starrer Eat, Pray, Love and was starred as Allen Ginsberg in the experimental film, Howl. He played as Aron Ralston, a mountain climber, in Danny Boyle’s biographical survival drama film, 127 Hours. Franco shot the film 12-hours per day, and he will only leave the set to go to the lavatory and read books and textbooks to keep him busy.
He considered the making of the film a once in a lifetime experience and was one of his most well-reviewed films. 127 Hours was also a commercial success and had earned him nominations for the Golden Globe, Academy Award, SAG Award and won the Independent Spirit Award. In early 2011, he made a cameo appearance on the game show, Minute to Win It. After his unaccredited role in the 3D action-comedy crime film,
The Green Hornet, he starred in the fantasy stoner comedy film,
Your Highness, along with
Natalie Portman and Danny McBride. Franco was also starred in Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the psychological thriller film, The Letter, together with
Winona Ryder. He played as Francis, a drug-addicted lawyer, in Stephen Elliott’s directorial debut entitled About Cherry.
He was later cast in the fantasy adventure film, Oz the Great and Powerful. This was filmed in 2011 and was only released in 2013. In 2012, Franco started filming Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God, which was selected at the prestigious 70th Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival 2013 and 51st New York Film Festival. Subsequently, he starred as Alien in the crime drama film, Spring Breakers, alongside
Selena Gomez and Rachel Korine. It was declared that he will make his debut on the Broadway stage in the revival of John Steinback’s novella, Of Mice and Men. He appeared in Thirty Seconds to Mars’ City of Angels, in October 2013.
Franco was also seen in the controversial political satire comedy,
The Interview, in 2014 and 2015, his films
True Story and I Am Michael were shown in Sundance Film Festival. In the same year, he starred as Jake Epping in the sci-fi thriller limited series, 11.22.63, which was adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The series was premiered last February 15, 2016. Besides acting, he also ventured into production and direction of short films and documentaries including Saturday Night, The Feast of Stephen, Palo Alto, Herbert White, The Broken Tower, and much more.
He played the role of a lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) School of Theater, Film and Television. Franco was also known for doing charitable works. He has been a volunteer of Art of Elysium’s charity, who’s helping children with serious medical illness, along with his Spiderman co-star,
Kirsten Dunst. He also helped the NGO, 826DC, who aims to help neighborhood students to attain their goals. He supported the LGBT community and thus received the Ally Award from the 15th Annual Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.