James Franco recently sat down with "The Daily Beast" to discuss -- in true Franco style -- everything under the sun. Much of what he says is articulate and thoughtful. This includes his recurring career fascination with gay characters, his image as an artist who refuses to be pigeon-holed, the "Consider This Shit" Oscar campaign (see below) for his "Spring Breakers" character and more. Interview highlights below.
Ever prolific, Franco has had three films release this year: Faulkner adaptation "As I Lay Dying" (review here), documentary "Interior. Leather Bar" (review here), and the Sal Mineo biopic "Sal," which hit theaters November 1. He also headlined "Oz the Great and Powerful" and gave that brilliantly bizarre performance in Harmony Korine's "Springbreakers." And he turned to crowdfunding. Busy year.
On the many gay roles he's played and gay projects he's undertaken:
It’s not like it’s my mission to tell the stories of as many gay men as possible, although in some cases, I think it is the point. In "Milk," the point is to show one of the great fighters for equal rights for the gay community, so I was happy to do that. With characters like Allen Ginsberg [in "Howl"], my love for him started with his work when I was a teenager. So his sexuality is secondary to me. It’s an important aspect of who he was and his character, but it wasn’t like, “Yes, I want to play another gay role,” it was more, “Yes, I’d love to play another one of my heroes.”
…But I feel like because I’ve done more gay characters, gay scenes, or gay projects than most straight actors, people see it as some sort of mission. It’s more of a case-by-case basis, and just trying to capture figures that I love. I guess that a lot of the figures that I love were gay.
On his many artistic endeavors:
I’m going to try to not let anyone put me in a box, and that certainly applies to the things I do outside of acting. There’s a tacit belief that actors shouldn’t write books, they’re sort of allowed to direct movies but there will be a lot of skepticism, and they shouldn’t do artwork, or music. There are these invisible roadblocks to gain entrée to these areas for actors, and you kind of have to crash through those invisible barriers. I know why those barriers are there. People are skeptical of anyone who has any bit of celebrity going and doing anything else because they might be wary that they’re cashing in on their celebrity, or that they’re doing these other pursuits not because they’re genuinely into them, but because of their celebrity in other areas. I understand that skepticism, and think it’s valid.
On his role in "Spring Breakers," and the resulting "Consider This Shit" Oscar campaign:
It’s probably my favorite role, and favorite movie that I’ve ever done. There are some people that are so shortsighted and can’t see beyond the teen character surface of that movie to see what an innovative and amazing film it is. I’m unabashedly proud of that performance. I’m not running that Oscar campaign, A24 is, and they have to do it in a wacky way because some people don’t get it.