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James Franco Admits 'Tristan & Isolde' Was "A Big Mistake"

by Kevin Jagernauth
April 19, 2012 4:25 PM
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James Franco has played many characters over the years -- James Dean, Aron Ralston, Saul Silver, Daniel Desario -- but few would leave him as bitter as his part as Tristan in "Tristan + Isolde." The actor has previously talked about the troubled production of that 2006 Kevin Reynolds film, but he once again lays it candidly out in an article he recently penned for The Daily Beast.

"I learned a lot from doing the film 'Tristan & Isolde.' It was a big mistake. I was an overzealous young actor and wanted to make great movies. I read the script and wasn’t sure about it, but my acting teacher said it was a role that a young Brando or Olivier would do. I thought, 'OK…I guess,'" Franco recounts. One of the items he has talked about previously is the extensive training he did for the movie...which would end up pointless: "I signed on to the project nine months in advance, and spent every day sword fighting in the backyard of my girlfriend at the time, Marla Sokoloff. I had martial-arts trainers and we’d make sword-fighting videos back there, and then I’d go over to Griffith Park and ride these Andalusian movie horses through the hills," he explained. "When I got out to Ireland to shoot, they said they had a new version of the script and all the 'Braveheart'-style battle scenes were changed to stealthy murders. All the training I did was useless."

When the shoot moved to Prague, Franco suffered an injury which would later require surgery, and butted heads with the director. All told, it was a sour experience, but it left him with a moral he shares with any other up and comers out there: "The lesson was that I will never do a movie again that I don’t have a special feeling for. I know now that you feel it somewhere in your gut when you believe in a movie, and that’s why you should do it. Don’t do a movie you wouldn’t see or don’t believe in, because movies can be hell to make."

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  • tavon | June 19, 2014 3:40 PMReply

    I liked him in Tristan and Isolde and thought the movie did justice to the old legend. Personally, I think he has made worse choices since then. Not a fan of the man, now.

  • Era | April 24, 2014 9:37 AMReply

    i love this movie. It is one of my favorite movies too. And I thing he did quite well in it.

  • Tiebaojin | April 20, 2014 5:59 PMReply

    I just re-watched this film on Cinemax, and I don't know why James Franco doesn't like it- it is one of my favorites. a beautiful, bittersweet love story very well acted and entertaining. I've put it on my-to-keep DVR list. Sorry James, but this is a good movie.

  • Teresa | December 10, 2013 1:30 PMReply

    I don't understand why James Franco doesn't understand the real value of the thing he did in Tristan as an actor. It's one of his best roles. I have a very special feeling for this film - it can be heaven to watch.

  • lyingeyes | May 28, 2013 10:06 AMReply

    I had no idea James Franco didn't like doing this movie - I thought it was really good! And considering he didn't enjoy it, he did pretty well in it too!

  • Brandon | April 21, 2012 6:47 PMReply

    I love it when rich actors complain about getting paid ridiculous sums of money to play dress up. Nobody twisted his arm to play the part. Nobody told him he had to do all that "research". There is a fine line between complaining about artistic integrity and just bitching about the fact that you made a crappy movie.

    I might be more forgiving if this was his first time doing this, but he also threw everyone involved with Annapolis under the bus as well. If you don't like being associated with shitty movies than stop signing onto shitty movies. I certainly don't feel sorry for you cashing a huge paycheck to play pretend. Own your choices like a man.

  • ELLA | April 20, 2012 8:34 AMReply

    Did everyone actually bother to read the full article? Because what he says doesn't come off as ego-driven. Quite the opposite, actually. Yeah, the movie put him on the map as a leading man. Yeah, he's clearly bothered that his efforts in training for specific fight scenes were not so much needed for the final version of the script.

    But he's clearly being more critical of himself here than he is of the actual movie.

  • msh | April 20, 2012 7:44 AMReply

    I loved watching Tristan and Isolde and surprised that this movie is his least favourite. It is one of my favourite movies of all time. I believe that the movie did not get the recognition it deserves because it did not advertise well when it first came out. This is one movie I have no problems watching over again.

  • ANON | April 20, 2012 7:14 AMReply

    I was shocked upon reading the title because I think it's a solid movie on a lot of levels, but in all fairness is reasons are clear. He half-heartedly took on the project, then spent a lot of time preparing for a physically challenging role. Script changes didn't meet his expectations.

  • jmp | April 19, 2012 9:22 PMReply

    Lexi, don't be mad at me for telling the truth. James' EGO is out of control. Before the Oscars & before his Oscar nomination, he seemed pleasant and grounded- now he is annoying.

  • Juliana | April 20, 2012 3:25 AM

    Meant "very honest"...

  • Juliana | April 20, 2012 3:24 AM

    Actually he mentioned this before the Oscars so he has always felt this way. If he has an ego, he deserves to with all that he is doing, but in interviews and posts is. Dry honest and down to earth. Misunderstood guy....

  • jimmiescoffee | April 19, 2012 8:21 PMReply

    i'm so fucking tired of this dude.

  • Juliana | April 20, 2012 3:29 AM

    Then quit reading the articles about him!

  • HAD2BESAID | April 19, 2012 6:21 PMReply

    That's a real shame, he didn't like it, overboard on being too hard on himself. Because, it's one of my all time romantic movies ever. He truly showed his sensitivity in that movie and I thought the movie was quite powerful in a simple way.

    @ jmp - Seriously, still going on about the Oscars that no one hardly tuned in for. When Billy Crystal hosted he received mixed reviews too. Time for people to move on and as for Your Highness, I loved it - very underrated (it wasn't suppose to be taken seriously, so I didn't, I just enjoyed).

    Nevermind, he’s still one of the best actors of our generation. Happy Birthday James.

  • Shala | April 19, 2012 5:47 PMReply

    If you take out anything that had to do with the romance between Tristan and Isolde, it was actually a decent movie.

  • jmp | April 19, 2012 4:32 PMReply

    Did James feel that way, before he decided to co-host the Oscars or before he decided to star in " Your Highness ?" Give me a break.

  • JD | April 19, 2012 6:20 PM

    What do people have against Your Highness? It's deliberately and self-consciously doing everything it's mocked for. That awareness alone excuses it from ridicule -- even if you don't particularly like it.

  • Lexi | April 19, 2012 5:01 PM

    Don't be a jerk, my god. James is friends with Danny McBride (Your Highness), you know what he probably would see that movie.
    Anyway happy birthday James :)

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