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James Franco, Heather Graham, Dev Patel & Lilli Taylor To Star In Porn Drama 'Cherry'

by Oliver Lyttelton
May 19, 2011 2:10 AM
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Guessing James Franco's next step is an entirely foolhardy pastime. The absurdly busy polymath star jumps from project to project seemingly at random, with recent movements including playing a guy who chops his own arm off, a blockbuster about super-intelligent monkeys, a stint on a soap opera, making his directorial debut, teaching a college class about himself, a collection of short stories, a Julia Roberts vehicle adapting a self-help book, a stoner comedy parody of 1980s fantasy movies, a mega-budgeted Disney prequel to "The Wizard of Oz," and fucking up the Oscars.

So it's with an inevitable sense of surprise (if that makes sense) that we report that the actor's latest gig will be in an indie flick that, on the surface at least, seems to be somewhat below his pay grade. Variety reports that Franco will star alongside Heather Graham, Lili Taylor and "Slumdog Millionaire" star lead Dev Patel in Stephen Elliot's film "Cherry." Elliot (not to be confused with "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" director Stephan Elliot) is a novelist and journalist, author of "The Adderall Diaries," which Franco optioned last year, who's making his directorial debut here from a script he co-wrote with porn star, and NYU writing grad, Lorelei Lee.

The project will in fact be set within the industry in which Lee made her name, following an 18-year-old girl (not yet cast) who becomes involved in the porn world, and a coke-addled lawyer (Franco). Graham, returning to the setting in which she made her name in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights," will play a porn actress who's become a director, while Taylor will play the girl's mother, an alcoholic, and Patel, who's yet to replicate the success of his feature debut, will be her best friend, who secretly holds a candle for her.

It all sounds rather like a low-calorie version of Anderson's film, with a somewhat B-list cast, so we're somewhat surprised that newly minted A-lister Franco is taking the time to make this one; we can only assume that the script is top-notch. Or that he's making a video collage or something about it. Filming will begin on location in San Francisco next month, with Franco squeezing the film into his schedule before he makes Sam Raimi's "Oz The Great and Powerful" with Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams.

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  • Sasha | June 6, 2011 7:00 AMReply

    Yes, Simon, he has: 127 Hours. James Franco earned an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Aron Ralston.

    He will star in a remake of the Planet of the Apes.

    The Ape was a separate film he did some years ago.

    And "Brou" is right: Good Time Max was Mr. Franco's directoral debut, although I haven't checked to see what his profile notes on IMDB.


  • Gabe Toro | May 20, 2011 5:40 AMReply

    I had NO idea Lorelai Lee was an NYU grad.

  • sp | May 19, 2011 4:19 AMReply

    James Franco's gigantic ego is getting on my last nerve. He is become incredibly annoying.

  • simon | May 19, 2011 3:50 AMReply

    "newly minted A-lister Franco"

    Did I miss something? Has he headlined a #1 opening movie that I missed?

  • Jackie | May 19, 2011 2:31 AMReply

    Yeah, I remember seeing The Ape on the shelf of my dvd store (in Australia) a few years ago. Did it not get released in the US?

  • brou | May 19, 2011 2:18 AMReply

    If you look at Franco's profile on imdb, you'll see that he already directed at least 2 feature films...

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