james franco (interview from 1999)
Lindzi.com: When did you develop an interest in acting?
James Franco: When I was a child, I always wanted to be an actor, but I had really bad buck teeth. I looked like a bug. I didn't want to get braces, but my mom said I couldn't be an actor if I didn't get braces. So, I got the braces. It just seemed so distant to me. I grew up in Palo Alto, California and wasn't around the movie business. It seemed like just a dream. As I grew older, I came out to L.A. to go to UCLA.
Lindzi.com: What was it about the industry that appealed to you?
James Franco: I guess when I was young it was the fame. I had a fan club magazine and would post pretty girls all over my walls. I wanted to be known like that. I think that's a very attractive thing. Now, acting is definitely a release. It's an outlet for all the turbulent times in my life. It's also a way to express all the good things in my life.
Lindzi.com: Are you able to relate with your character Daniel on Freaks & Geeks?
James Franco: Yeah, I think in that Daniel's a passionate guy who has an overflow of passion inside him that he needs to express. He doesn't have the same sort of outlets that his antics come out in - he messes around in school and is more disturbing.
Lindzi.com: What can we expect to see from the character next?
James Franco: Yeah, they were talking about that... like what's Daniel's thing? Is he going to be a painter? Is he going to be a musician? I don't know. They don't want to do the cliché so I guess we're still searching. I think you'll find out he's more of a family guy. He's got a family that's having trouble supporting itself.
Lindzi.com: So, I understand you're a painter.
James Franco: Yes, I am a painter. I've actually been painting longer than I've been acting. I needed an outlet in high school and came across painting. I went to a private painting school more than I went to high school. It provided me with a safe place to go.
Lindzi.com: In your own words, what is a freak?
James Franco: I guess freaks are people who don't go along with the set standard of behavior and social goals of college and good grades. I'm not saying it's the way to go. For one reason or another, they have a hard family history or study problems. They're just not interested. They're just trying to stake out their own.
Lindzi.com: What were you like in high school?
James Franco: In high school, I was in the "James Loner Crowd." I didn't hang out with people that much. I had a girlfriend and just painted a lot of the time. My dad was big on studying so I got good grades.
Lindzi.com: Do you have a particular favorite episode?
James Franco: Sure. There was an episode called, "Tests & Breasts." I manipulate the character Lindsay into helping me cheat on a test. I think it shows within that episode there's a lot of creativity, although it's put to a bad purpose, the character has a lot of creativity between coming up with stories and playing it off. Then there's an episode coming up where I'm feeling sort of crushed by the system. They're taking my father's workmen's comp away. So, to rebel, I turn into a punk and go to a punk club.
Lindzi.com: Tell me a little about your character in Whatever It Takes.
James Franco: I'd say he's another character with an excess of passion, but he channels it more into seducing and hurting girls. He's another manipulator. I think I do well at those parts. I prefer parts where I'm in control. Rather than being manipulated.
Lindzi.com: Which character can you relate better with? The pretty boy or the freak?
James Franco: Oh, you know, the freak. In the jock role, my hair is plastered. I don't know. It's still hard for me. Even though people urge me to dress nicer, it's hard for me to clean up and live a clean lifestyle. I think there's something to be said for looking respectful and being presentable. It just doesn't work for me.
Lindzi.com: Okay - on a completely different note.... what was your prom like?
James Franco: I missed prom. My girlfriend at the time was an actress and my prom was actually on my 18th birthday, but there was also a trip to Aspen, Oregon to go see the plays. So, we opted to see the plays. We had our own little prom.
Lindzi.com: Who are you currently dating?
James Franco: Her name is Marla Sokoloff. Marla's got a very keen innate wisdom about her. Even if she doesn't realize it all the time, she's very intuitive about things. She's just born artistic. She's been acting since she was 7 and playing music. For me, that's a must. I need someone who can relate to my artistic side. So, in our free time, we do things like... she's teaching me guitar and to write songs. [pauses] That sounds so hokey! Just someone I can relate to artistically and who can also be understanding and supportive of the demands of my lifestyle.
Lindzi.com: Oooh! You two met on the set of Whatever It Takes, huh? Too perfect. So can we expect to find you in the recording studio any time soon?
James Franco: [laughs] I'd love it. I'm so ashamed I was never exposed to the musical side of performance when I was younger. I'm making up for it now. It's great.
Lindzi.com: So, I hear you're working on a screen play. Tell me a little about that.
James Franco: There's actually a couple in the works. After the whole Columbine incident, there's all this backlash in the industry of censorship. Not just against violence, but tiny things like certain sayings because somehow they were indirectly related to the incident. It just seemed so absurd to me when there's huge action movies out there that are not being cut. So, I made a movie that featured a boy that's sort of troubled in that way. Not in an effort to glorify it, but to show that censorship isn't necessarily the answer.
Lindzi.com: Do you have someone in mind the role?
James Franco: Oh, yeah - from the start. Martin Starr. He's on my show. He plays Bill. He's a wonderful actor. He's one of my favorites. My friend who has worked and produced a few short films is hoping to produce the screen play for me.
Lindzi.com: Is there anyone you're completely in awe of?
James Franco: Yes, I love Benicio Del Toro. I guess the biggest thing he's been in is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I love his role in Basquiat and Usual Suspects. He displays such creativity and he's not afraid to portray off the wall characters in an unflattering way. Even though he usually plays grungy types, he's got such compelling energy and charisma. He's one of my favorites.
Lindzi.com: We've reached the signature question... what drives you insane?
James Franco: Unprofessionalism. I hate when people start taking things for granted like when they're in a certain situation in which people don't dare criticize them even when they should be whipped into shape. I know people have different ways of working, but to come into work unprepared?
Lindzi.com: What are your goals for the future?
James Franco: In the future, I hope to put together a comprehensive group of roles and pictures that show passionate people, striving to perform some artistic goal. Bottom line, find something you love and work for it without making any excuses.
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