Franco at the Spider-Man 3 premiere, April 2007
|Born||James Edward Franco
April 19, 1978
Palo Alto, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, director, screenwriter, producer, painter|
James Edward Franco (born April 19, 1978) is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, and painter. He began acting during the late 1990s, appearing on the short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks and starring in several teen films. In 2001 he played the title role in Mark Rydell's television biographical film James Dean, which earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film.
Franco achieved international fame as a result of his portrayal of Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man trilogy. Since then, his films have included the war film The Great Raid (2005), the 2006 romantic drama Tristan & Isolde, and Justin Lin's drama Annapolis (2006). In 2008, Franco starred in the comedy stoner film Pineapple Express and received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. He played a prominent role in the 2008 biographical film Milk.
Franco was born April 19, 1978 in Palo Alto, California, the son of Betsy (née Verne), a poet, author and editor, and Doug Franco. His maternal grandmother, Mitzi Levine Verne, runs the Verne Art Gallery, a prominent art gallery in Cleveland, Ohio. Franco's father is of Portuguese and Swedish descent and Franco's mother is Jewish, a descendant of immigrants from Russia. Franco grew up in California with his two younger brothers, Tom and Dave, and graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1996, where he was elected by his senior class as the student with the "best smile". He then enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as an English major. He dropped out after his freshman year and chose to pursue a professional career as an actor, taking acting lessons with Robert Carnegie at Playhouse West.
After fifteen months of training, he began auditioning in Los Angeles, California, and got his first break in 1999, after he was cast in a leading role on the short-lived but well-reviewed television series Freaks and Geeks. Franco has since described the series as "one of the most fun" work experiences that he has had. In another interview, Franco said: "When we were doing Freaks and Geeks, I didn’t quite understand how movies and TV worked, and I would improvise even if the camera wasn’t on me ... So I was improvising a little bit back then, but not in a productive way."
His first major film was the romantic comedy Whatever It Takes (2000), where he co-starred with his then-girlfriend, Marla Sokoloff. He was subsequently cast as the title role in director Mark Rydell's 2001 TV biopic James Dean. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Franco could have walked through the role and done a passable Dean, but instead gets under the skin of this insecure, rootless young man." He was distinguished with a Golden Globe Award, as well as being nominated for an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
In the 2002 superhero film Spider-Man, the most successful film of his career to date, Franco played Harry Osborn, the son of the villainous Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and best friend of the title character (Tobey Maguire). Originally, Franco was considered for the lead role of Spider-Man/Peter Parker in the film, though the lead went to Tobey Maguire. Todd McCarthy of Variety noted that there are "good moments" between Maguire and Franco in the film. Spider-Man was a commercial and critical success. The movie grossed $114 million during its opening weekend in North America and went on to earn $822 million worldwide. In this same year, Franco was cast in the drama City by the Sea (2002). The following year he co-starred alongside Neve Campbell in Robert Altman's The Company (2003).
The success of the first Spider-Man film led Franco to reprise the role in the 2004 sequel, Spider-Man 2. The movie was well received by critics, and it proved to be a big financial success, setting a new opening weekend box office record for North America. With revenue of $783 million worldwide, it became the second highest grossing film in 2004. The following year he appeared in the 2005 war film The Great Raid, in which he portrayed Robert Prince, a captain in the United States Army's elite Sixth Ranger Battalion.
In 2006, Franco co-starred with Tyrese Gibson in Annapolis and played legendary hero Tristan in Tristan & Isolde, a dramatization of the Tristan and Iseult story also starring English actress Sophia Myles. He then trained with the stunt team "The Blue Angels" and received a pilot's license in preparation for his role in Flyboys, which was released in September 2006; the same month, Franco appeared briefly in The Wicker Man, a horror film starring Nicolas Cage, who directed him in Sonny. Also in 2006, he made a cameo appearance in the romantic comedy The Holiday.
In 2007 he again played Harry Osborn in Spider-Man 3. In contrast to the previous two films' positive reviews, Spider-Man 3 was met with a mixed reception by critics. Nonetheless, with a total worldwide gross of $891 million, it stands as the most successful film in the series, and Franco's highest grossing film to the end of 2008. In this same year, Franco made a cameo appearance in the comedy Knocked Up.
He starred in the film Pineapple Express (2008), a comedy co-starring and co-written by Seth Rogen and produced by Judd Apatow, both of whom worked with Franco on Freaks and Geeks. In the New York Times review of the film, critic Manohla Dargis wrote: "He’s delightful as Saul, loosey-goosey and goofy yet irrepressibly sexy, despite that greasy curtain of hair and a crash pad with a zero WAF (Woman Acceptance Factor). It’s an unshowy, generous performance and it greatly humanizes a movie that, as it shifts genre gears and cranks up the noise, becomes disappointingly sober and self-serious." Franco's performance in the film earned him a Golden Globe nomination in the category for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy and also a MTV Movie Award nomination in the category for Best Comedic Performance. Though no longer a cannabis user, Franco was awarded High Times magazine Stoner of the Year Award for his performance in Pineapple Express. In 2008 he also appeared in two films by American artist Carter exhibited at the Yvon Lambert gallery in Paris. On September 20, 2008, James hosted the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, and a second time on December 19, 2009.
Franco starred opposite Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch in Gus Van Sant's Harvey Milk bio-pic Milk (2008). In the film, he played Scott Smith, a lover of Harvey Milk (Penn). Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, in review of the film, wrote: "Franco is a nice match for him [Penn] as the lover who finally has enough of political life." For his performance in the film, Franco won the 2008 Independent Spirit Award in the category for Best Supporting Actor.
In October 2009, it was confirmed that Franco will be joining the cast of the daytime soap opera, General Hospital. He played Franco, who comes to Port Charles with some unfinished business with mob enforcer Jason Morgan (Steve Burton).
Franco made an appearance on the situation comedy show 30 Rock where he played himself and carried on a fake romance with Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) in a scheme concocted by their respective agents.
In 2008, Franco received his undergraduate degree in English from UCLA. For his degree, Franco prepared his departmental honors thesis under the supervision of novelist Mona Simpson. Subsequently, Franco moved to New York to attend graduate school at Columbia University's MFA Writing Program and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts where he studied filmmaking.
Art—painting in particular—is a talent Franco developed during his high school years while attending the rigorous California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA). Franco has said that painting was the "outlet" he needed in high school, and that he "has actually been painting longer than he has been acting." His paintings were displayed publicly for the first time at the Glü Gallery in Los Angeles, California from January 7, 2006 through February 11, 2006. Franco can also be seen painting in a scene in Spider-Man 3.
Since April 2006, Franco has been in a relationship with actress Ahna O'Reilly. In 2008, Franco was named as the new face of Gucci's men's fragrance line. Viewed as a sex symbol, Franco was named the Sexiest Man Living in 2009 by Salon.com.
He was selected as the commencement speaker, the youngest, at his alma mater UCLA, on Friday, June 12, 2009. On June 3, 2009, a press release announced Franco's cancellation as UCLA's commencement speaker due to a scheduling conflict, making it the second year in a row that the commencement speaker had canceled the appearance. Bill Clinton canceled the year before. On July 8, 2009, Franco and the Harvard Lampoon released a satirical video on prominent comedy website Funny or Die mocking his last-minute cancellation.
|1999||Never Been Kissed||Jason Way|
|Freaks and Geeks||Daniel Desario||series actor|
|2000||Whatever It Takes||Chris Campbell|
|2001||James Dean||James Dean||Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor in Television Film
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Miniseries or TV Film
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
|2002||Sonny||Sonny Phillips||limited release|
|City By The Sea||Joey||Nominated – Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|2004||Spider-Man 2||Harry Osborn|
|2005||The Ape||Harry Walker||direct-to-video|
|The Great Raid||Captain Prince|
|Fool's Gold||Brent||director, writer|
|2006||Tristan & Isolde||Tristan|
|The Wicker Man||Bar guy #1|
|The Dead Girl||Derek|
|The Holiday||Himself||(uncredited cameo)|
|2007||Spider-Man 3||Harry Osborn / New Goblin||Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|Knocked Up||Himself||(uncredited cameo)|
|In the Valley of Elah||Sergeant Dan Carnelli|
|Finishing the Game||Dean Silo/"Rob Force"|
|An American Crime||Andy|
|Good Time Max||Max Verbinski||director, writer|
|2008||Pineapple Express||Saul Silver||Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Fight
|Nights in Rodanthe||Mark Flanner|
|Milk||Scott Smith||Independent Spirit Awards for Best Supporting Male
Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Cast
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
|2009||General Hospital||Franco||scheduled to appear in more than 10 episodes 2009-2010|
|Date Night||Chase Myers||post-production|
|Eat, Pray, Love||David||post-production|
|Your Highness||Dany Lovert||post-production|
|Mystery White Boy||Jeff Buckley||post-production|
|In Praise of Shadows||William Vincent||post-production|
|127 Hours||Aron Ralston||pre-production|