Best known for his breakthrough starring role on "Freaks and Geeks" (1999), James Franco was born in Palo Alto, California on April 19, 1978. Growing up with his two younger brothers, James graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1996 and went on to attend UCLA, majoring in English. To overcome his shyness, he got into acting while studying there, which, much to his parents' dismay, he left after only one year. After fifteen months of intensive study at Robert Carnegie's Playhouse West, James began actively pursuing his dream of finding work as an actor in Hollywood. In that short time, he landed himself a starring role on "Freaks and Geeks" (1999). The show, however, was not a hit to its viewers at the time, and was canceled after its first year. Now, it has become a cult-hit. Prior to joining "Freaks and Geeks" (1999), Franco starred in the TV miniseries "To Serve and Protect" (1999). After that, he had a starring role in Whatever It Takes (2000).
Although he'd been working steadily, it wasn't until the TNT made-for-television movie, James Dean (2001) (TV) that James rose to fan-magazine fame and got to show off his talent. Since then, he has been working non-stop. After losing the lead role to Tobey Maguire, James settled for the part of "Harry Osborne", Spider-Man's best friend in the summer 2002 major hit Spider-Man (2002). He returned to the Osborne role for the next two films in the trilogy.
Next was Deuces Wild (2002) and City by the Sea (2002), in which Robert De Niro personally had him cast, after viewing his performance in James Dean (2001) (TV). He was recently seen in David Gordon Green's Pineapple Express (2008) opposite Seth Rogen, in George C. Wolfe's Nights in Rodanthe (2008), starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane and in Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah (2007), starring Tommy Lee Jones. Also starring opposite Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant's Milk (2008/I) in which his performance earned him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor. Definitely growing out of his shyness, James Franco is turning into a legend of his own.
One sided smile
Tends to play characters with a troubled past or life
Often plays real life characters
Auditioned for the role of Peter Parker in Spider-Man (2002), but was given the part of Harry Osborn.
James appeared in two movies that premiered on the same day, Deuces Wild (2002) and Spider-Man (2002), both opening on May 3rd. The success of the two films was highly varied as Spider-Man film has to date amassed a box office gross some 67 times greater than that of Deuces.
His parents, Betsy Franco & Doug Franco, met at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
In his spare time he likes to paint.
Was named one of People Magazine's 50 Hottest Bachelors 
Has his own production company - Rabbit Bandini Productions.
Went by the name of Ted in high school and was voted "Best Smile" at Palo Alto High School.
Was named one of Salon.com's "10 men who might just inspire the rebirth of Jewish male cool."
Although he always hated it, he started smoking for his lead role in James Dean (2001) (TV).
Is of Portuguese and Swedish heritage on his father's side, and of Russian Jewish heritage on his mother's side.
His grandmother, Mitzie Verne, is an artist.
Franco told interviewer Terry Gross that when he was in junior high school, he was arrested for shoplifting cologne from a department store and reselling it with his friends at the school. He noted to Gross the irony that, in 2008, he shot an advertising campaign in which he became the face of Gucci cologne.
While a guest on her NPR program "Fresh Air", Franco told interviewer Terry Gross that when he went back to UCLA to finish his undergraduate degree in creative writing, he was worried that his classmates and professors might think of him as "sliding by" because of his acting career, so he took a lot of extra courses to make sure they knew he was serious. He told Gross that the cap on the number of units that a student is allowed to take in a quarter was 19, but in his last quarter he took 62 units - which as far as he knows is a record for a single student.
Chosen by Premiere magazine as one of the "The 40 Most Handsome Hollywood Men"(#1).
He completed his private pilot's license to prepare for his role in 2006's Flyboys (2006).
Is a talented mathematician. He interned at Lockheed Martin, the American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company.
Has directed short films for two R.E.M. songs, "Blue" and "That Someone Is You" from their 2011 album, "Collapse Into Now".
Franco volunteers at the charity Art of Elysium in Los Angeles, helping kids with serious medical conditions. In January 2011, he was honoured for his work at the hospital, receiving the Spirit of Elysium accolade.
He did eight months of boxing training for Annapolis (2006).
His production company is Rabbit Bandini Productions, which he runs with friend and producer Vince Jolivette.
In 2009, Salon.com named Franco the "Sexiest Man Living.".
May perhaps be one of the most academically accomplished actors (an "extreme scholar") in Hollywood history: besides his BFA in English from UCLA, he has two MFA degrees - both in writing - from Columbia and Brooklyn College, and a third MFA, in film, from New York University. He is continuing further degree studies while also teaching a graduate class that takes students through the process of making a feature-length film. (2011).
His favorite film is My Own Private Idaho (1991).
His debut book of poetry is due to be released in April 2014 [December 17, 2012].
Was presented the 2,492nd Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame accompanied by his mother Betsy Franco, brother Dave Franco, Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) director Sam Raimi and This Is the End (2013) co-star Seth Rogen (March 7, 2013).
[About painting] "I needed an outlet in high school and came across painting. I've actually been painting longer than I've been acting. A movie is a collaborative effort, and with painting you just have yourself."
[About finding time to relax] "Never. It's an impossibility. I don't even like to sleep. I feel as if there's too much to do."
[About what he looks for in a girl] "Just someone I can relate to artistically and who can also be understanding and supportive of the demands of my lifestyle."
When I was a child, I wanted to be an actor, but I had really bad buck teeth. I didn't want to get braces, but my mom said I couldn't be an actor if I didn't get the braces. So, I got the braces.
I worked at a McDonald's drive-through. I could always tell when girls were interested: They'd drive around again and say, "I forgot something."
Acting is an art form and you want to take roles that are challenged and it's more of a challenge I think to play dark characters. Not that I want to always play those, but it is a challenge and challenges are rewarding and fun.
You know, directors kind of want different things. Some of them think that if they just are always talking to you and keeping your spirits up and everything that it helps you, and then some leave you alone and give you your space.
[on playing gay characters] - It's funny because the way that kind of stuff is talked about on blogs is so black-and-white. It's all cut-and-dry identity politics. 'Is he straight or is he gay?' Or, 'This is your third gay movie - come out already!' And all based on, gay or straight, based on the idea that your object of affection decides your sexuality. There are lots of other reasons to be interested in gay characters than wanting myself to go out and have sex with guys. And there are also lots of other aspects about these characters that I'm interested in, in addition to their sexuality. So, in some ways it's coincidental, in other ways it's not. I mean, I've played a gay man who's living in the '60s and '70s, a gay man who we depicted in the '50s, and one being in the '20s. And those were all periods when to be gay, at least being gay in public, was much more difficult. Part of what I'm interested in is how these people who were living anti-normative lifestyles contended with opposition. Or, you know what, maybe I'm just gay.
[on using the videos trapped hiker Aron Ralston had made, in order to portray him in 127 Hours (2010)] He's not an actor giving a Shakespeare death soliloquy. He didn't want to lose himself because that would make it harder for his mother to watch. I knew that if I captured that, somehow, it would feel very authentic and powerful.
[on accepting a position as a dramatics teacher at New York University] I've been very fortunate. I had to work hard but had opportunities to do everything that I wanted. That's one of the reasons I'm teaching. I'm trying to give back to other people. That's what I guess I want to do now - continue to be creative in a way that I can give back.
[Observation while making a documentary about the porn industry] When I was young, I got a video camera and my girlfriend and I decided to film ourselves and watched it back and said, 'Yeah, well, let's never watch that again'. Those performers in pornos, they are great performers. They're not just doing it. They're selling it to an audience.
[2011, on being a troubled youth] I was arrested for a lot of petty crimes. It added up. I was a ward of the court and was put on probation. Finally, I'd had enough chances, but they gave me one final chance, and, fortunately, I didn't get into any trouble after that. Otherwise, I guess it could have been like Lindsay Lohan, when she's on probation and then she's accused of stealing a necklace, and it's a kind of small thing that becomes a big thing. It's like probation doesn't end.
(2011, on his earliest jobs) When I was 13 or 14 my dad got me a job working the counter at a coffee shop. It sucked. I read books when the place was empty and got let go when the assistant manager told the boss he'd found $2 in one of the aprons and said I was trying to steal. It turns out he had taken, like, $10,000. Later, when I wanted a car and my parents said they'd match whatever I could pay, I got a job driving carts at the Palo Alto Golf Course. I would read stuff like Naked Lunch in the cart, and they let me go when they caught me reading the sequel to A Separate Peace. Another summer I got a job with a friend on his father's construction crew, but we just got high every day...I was (also) given an internship at Lockheed Martin. But that experience showed me I never wanted to work in that environment.
(2011, on the failure of Your Highness (2011)) I didn't write that movie. I was just doing my job. I think I'm fine in it. They knew there were problems with that movie a year ago. Just because it comes out after the Oscars, it's like "Oh, here's backlash". Well, you have the year's best actress Oscar winner in it, so wouldn't that boost ticket sales? And people want to blame me for that? It's just ridiculous. There's this feeling about me like, "He's doing too many things. Let's get him".
[2011, on hosting the Oscars] It's hard to talk about because it's like assigning blame - not a fun thing to do. For three or four weeks, we shot the promos and the little film that played in the opening. In the last week, when we really started focusing on the script for the live show and did a run-through, I said to the producer, "I don't know why you hired me, because you haven't given me anything. I just don't think this stuff's going to be good". After the show, everybody was so happy, and Bruce Cohen, the show's producer, hugged me and said, "Steven Spielberg just told me it was the best Oscars ever!" As far as having low energy or seeming as though I wasn't into it or was too cool for it, I thought, Okay, Anne Hathaway is going the enthusiastic route. I've been trained as an actor to respond to circumstances, to the people I'm working with, and not to force anything. So I thought I would be the straight man and she could be the other, and that's how I was trying to do those lines. I felt kind of trapped in that material. I felt, 'This is not my boat. I'm just a passenger, but I'm going down and there's no way out'.
(2011, on being a workaholic) I don't know, but the first short film I ever directed, years before I even went to film school at NYU, is about a boy who is introduced to the concept of his own mortality when his goldfish dies. He says to his parents, "I don't want to die," and though they say he shouldn't worry because there's plenty of time, they don't really comfort him. So he thinks, I have to do everything now. He gets a neighbor girl to marry him, gets a job, starts a family. Although I've changed and relaxed a bit, my behavior shows I've thought along those lines for quite a while.
[on the show "Girls" (2012)] I am fine watching a show about women dealing with men. I watched Steel Magnolias (1989) when I was in junior high school and I can get off on female bonding. Done right. It's more interesting than male bonding. I'm also aware that I may just be giving myself too much credit: for all I know, but for the grace of Judd Apatow, I could be just like those struggling male idiots I see on the show.
[on the moment that his successful film career failed to meet his artistic expectations] I remember getting ready to do the third 'Spiderman', just thinking, I don't know if I can take it again. If I can take all the work that doesn't seem to have a payoff that is equal to the effort. As soon as I started branching out and pursuing my other interests I could say, 'OK... it's a place where more earnest kinds of exploration can happen.'
There's this public persona that's 'James Franco' that's half my creation but half of it isn't. Half of it's what other people write about me or how they perceive me. [His art is] a way of using... an image that other people have created and re-presenting it.
|The Company (2003)||$2,000,000|
|Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)||$7,000,000|
(March 2007) Filming the action comedy Pineapple Express (2008).
(2008) Enrolled in NYU's MFA program for creative writing in Tisch school of the arts
(2009) In the Graduate Film program at NYU and the Graduate Program for Fiction Writing at Columbia.
(March 2013) New York, NY, USA: His educational achievements as a "prolific academic" are celebrated in a half-page ad in The New York Times paid for by his alma mater, UCLA, with the tagline: 'Some A-Listers Actually Get A's.'
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