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Monday, April 4,2011

James Franco

By Lindsay Cohen  

Who knew James Franco began acting to overcome his shyness! Before he found acting in college, he found painting in high school: “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.” Sounds like a fair comparison, but how does he define acting? Simple: “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 challenging and challenge, are rewarding and fun.” This helps explain why most of his characters have a troubled history. When I think over his various roles of characters with troubled pasts, I think of the Spider Man trilogy. Yes, I realize Tobey McGuire landed the leading role, but I bet you remember the charming, handsome villain as well!

Along this comic book hero story-line, James recently starred in The Green Hornet. Even if you missed that one, there is a good chance you caught him in 127 Hours, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor this year. Let’s rewind for a minute to see how this dapper young man got his start. Like many of his peers, his breakthrough starring role was in a TV series. Starring in “Freaks and Geeks” led to his role in the TNT made-for-television movie James Dean in 2001. Since everything (or mostly everything) in life is cause-andeffect, his role in this movie caught Robert De Niro’s attention and landed James the role in City by the Sea. Have you noticed a pattern yet? Each of his characters seems to have a troubled past.

Speaking of past, James has a mixed heritage. His mom’s side is Russian Jewish, whereas his dad’s side is Portuguese and Swedish. I had no idea he was part Jewish, but according to, he is one of "10 men who might just inspire the rebirth of Jewish male cool." Sounds good to me! I wonder if his mixed background inspired him to play a yoga-practicing, bohemian in Eat Pray Love.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is his starring role as a pothead in Pineapple Express. It was at this point that he developed his friendship with slapstick buddy Danny McBride. The two had so much fun filming together that they are reuniting, along with, Natalie Portman in the upcoming epic comedy-adventure movie "Your Highness".


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