We’re seated by a window in the upstairs poetry room at City Lights Books in San Francisco, where several earnest-looking college students pretend to read obscure poetry collections.Franco speaks softly so that he doesn’t disturb them. If anything, they’d probably like the 32-year-old, who’s hiding his curls under a San Francisco Giants hat, to speak up—to project.In addition to the two gay-themed poems he adapted for student films (Frank Bidart’s “Herbert White” being the other), Franco portrayed a 17-year-old swimmer dating an older man in the gay indie film , took a queer studies course at NYU, and created performance art pieces about gender and sexual confusion. I suppose that’s the reason one wouldn’t do that, right? He also grew up in a liberal household—his mother is a poet and author—where he says it was OK to be unique and artistic. They didn’t think me acting in a soap opera was the greatest idea.And then there’s Franco’s first solo art show this past summer in New York City; it featured video monologues with lines like “We’re all gender-fucked—we’re all something in between, floating like angels.”And now, just in case Franco hasn’t confounded us enough (and blown the lid off the conventional thinking about how many gay projects an A-list actor can tackle without imploding), he’s taking on arguably his most challenging role yet: iconic gay poet Allen Ginsberg, a man who discovered within himself “mountains of homosexuality.”As the City Lights poetry room grows suspiciously crowded with gay men (has someone alerted a float? He leans back in his chair and ponders the question. It’s more interesting to me to play roles and relationships that haven’t been portrayed as often.”“If you were gay or bisexual, would you tell me? “Are we at a point where someone like yourself could matter-of-factly come out without the world stopping for a day or two? But no, that wouldn’t be something that would deter me. Everyone thinks I’m a stoner, and some people think I’m gay because I’ve played these gay roles. I ask Franco if he’s ever been counseled to slow down on the number of gay-themed projects he accepts. “You want to know what my agents did try to talk me out of? But they know that I’ve always wanted to do a movie about the Beats, so no one tried to stop me from playing Allen Ginsberg.” At first blush James Franco as Allen Ginsberg seems like a counterintuitive casting choice.Although Franco tells me he doesn’t question inspiration when it strikes, it’s not an answer I’m prepared to accept without a fight. His girlfriend, actress Ahna O’Reilly, laughs when I phone her later and suggest the second possibility. ” she says, adding that Franco’s interest in sexuality is less about homosexuality and more about boyhood, masculinity, and journeys of self-discovery. I am sure I was drawn to his character’s quirkiness and desire to be loved.” (Franco and Van Sant are currently working on an art project reexamination of using never-before-seen footage.)Though Franco didn’t know any openly gay people in his San Francisco Bay area high school (“It was not considered a good thing to be gay,” he says), he doesn’t remember ever having negative feelings about homosexuality.
AKA James Edward Franco Born: 19-Apr-1978Birthplace: Palo Alto, CAGender: Male Race or Ethnicity: White Sexual orientation: Straight Occupation: Actor Nationality: United States Executive summary: Freaks and Geeks Father: Doug Franco (d. 12-Jun-1985)Girlfriend: Marla Sokoloff (actress, together 2000-04)Girlfriend: Ashley Hartman (together 2004)Girlfriend: Ahna O'Reilly (actress, together since 2005) High School: Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, CA (1996) University: BA English, University of California at Los Angeles (2008) University: Columbia University University: Brooklyn College University: MA Film, New York University (2011) Mc Donald's Drive-Thru Jewish Ancestry Maternal The Interview (11-Dec-2014) Good People (12-Aug-2014) Veronica Mars (8-Mar-2014) Homefront (27-Nov-2013) Third Person (9-Sep-2013) Child of God (31-Aug-2013) Palo Alto (29-Aug-2013) This Is the End (3-Jun-2013) As I Lay Dying (20-May-2013) Oz the Great and Powerful (14-Feb-2013) Maladies (10-Feb-2013) Lovelace (22-Jan-2013) Interior. (19-Jan-2013) The Color of Time (16-Nov-2012) Spring Breakers (5-Sep-2012) The Iceman (30-Aug-2012) About Cherry (Feb-2012) Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (20-Jan-2012) · Himself Sal (3-Sep-2011) Rise of the Planet of the Apes (5-Aug-2011) · Will Rodman The Broken Tower (20-Jun-2011) Your Highness (8-Apr-2011) · Fabious 127 Hours (4-Sep-2010) · Aron Ralston Love & Distrust (16-Aug-2010) Eat Pray Love (13-Aug-2010) · David Piccolo With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (24-Jul-2010) · Himself Date Night (6-Apr-2010) · Taste Howl (21-Jan-2010) · Allen Ginsberg Milk (28-Nov-2008) Pineapple Express (6-Aug-2008) In the Valley of Elah (1-Sep-2007) · Sgt.Few actors have enjoyed careers more varied or bizarre than those of Franco and Leto. His Daniel Desario was a quintessential high school bad boy; handsome, smooth, flunking and prone to leather jackets.Stranger still is that both actors have followed near-identical, yet equally unlikely trajectories, parlaying breakthroughs as alt-teen heartthrobs (Franco in ) into eventual Oscar nominations (and in Leto’s case, a win). Both front rock bands (Franco has a Morrissey-inspired band, Daddy, and of course Leto has Thirty Seconds to Mars) and have fronted Gucci campaigns, both have tried their hand at directing, both have been comic-book villains (Franco as Harry Osborn in ), both have (allegedly) had sexual encounters with Lindsay Lohan, both are objectively beautiful, single white men whose names start with "J." And the casting announcement of either actor in any project tends to elicit, these days, a unique existential apathy that manifests itself in an eye-roll accompanied by, “I guess that makes sense.”A unicorn is by definition singular, and yet here we are presented with two. With those squinty eyes and the devilish grin, Franco brought an undeniable star charisma that transcended the high school genre (my mother swooned at the time). Where Desario was simply failing classes, Catalano was straight-up illiterate.Due to his extensive (and complicated) resume, he's in a constant state of juggling projects, and he hardly takes breaks; in fact, he hates them.He apparently even spends his free nights (he's currently living in a hotel) painting portraits of hummingbirds.