James Franco: The Monsieur We’d All Like to Be

Posted on December 21, 2011

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How could James Franco possibly be simultaneously reading for a Yale Ph.D and filming a multimillion-dollar motion picture? How could he possibly have time to write anything when he’s also teaching a class at NYU and starring so many films? I’ve wondered the same thing myself. But on that trip to Detroit, I learned a secret. People think that when you’re the star of a film, your time must be chock-full with endless minutia—appearances, conversations, getting “into character,” and so on. But when you’re the star, you end up just sitting around a lot. For a single shot to take place, for instance, a whole series of organized events have to be set in motion: The 3D crew has to gauge the shot, the cinematographer has to line up the camera, the lighting crew has to arrange its lights and shades, the set has to be rearranged or otherwise moved into place, the wardrobe and hair departments have to prepare the actors—and through all of this, the actor just sits and waits. In fact, actors will often sit and wait so for so long that “body doubles” will sometimes be hired just to sit and wait in the appropriate place for the actors. So when you see James’s character with his arm trapped under a rock in 127 Hours, what you don’t see is that there was an assigned reading under the rock with it. When he’s playfully wrestling with a genetically-enhanced chimpanzee in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, just off to the right of the shot was a stack of books.

James Franco, a Celebrity worth Aping

The truth is, if you’re an A-list Hollywood star like James Franco, and are willing to put the time into earning a Ph.D, you may actually have more time to read than many of your colleagues. [Read more]

The Monsieur’s Brief: I don’t agree with all of his role choices (ahem Your Highness) but I can certainly agree that we need more celebs like the likes of him and Natalie Portman, educated and truly multidimensional. They’re the perfect counterbalance to the deluge of anyone named Kardashian (thank God they didn’t spell Christmas with a “K” this year).

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Posted in: the critic