The Writing Career of Actor James Franco (It’s Not All About Lindsay Lohan)
Did you know James was a published author and poet?
James Franco, actor, celebrity, Instagram user and yes, writer. You may not have been aware of it until Vice published his Lindsay Lohan story this week, but Franco fancies himself as quite the wordsmith. Yes when James isn't acting or generally engaging in some kind of weirdness, he likes to write. Sometimes it’s fiction, other times it’s opinion pieces about being famous and using Instagram and what’s better is, he also teaches others how to write. But before you sign up to be taken under Franco’s literary wing, let’s have a look at the actor’s body of written work so far and see if a Nobel prize might be in his future.
James Franco, author
James Franco comes from a literary family, his grandmother Marjorie is a published author of young adult fiction, while his mother Besty writes for a younger market and has penned a book of poems about cats. After graduating high school, Franco enrolled in UCLA to study English but dropped out soon after to pursue an acting career. But in 2006, as a now famous actor he enrolled in the university once again to begin honing his literary skills.
Majoring in English with a creative writing concentration, Franco studied at UCLA while still acting regularly. He completed his degree in 2008 and was even invited back to the university a year later to delver a speech to graduates. However some protested against the choice and Franco eventually withdrew, citing scheduling conflicts. Currently Franco is studying for his English PhD at Yale University.
In 2010 Franco published a collection of short stories entitled Palo Alto, named after his home town. The book explores the everyday lives of a selection of California teenagers who experiment with drugs and drink while committing acts of violence. The critical reception was mixed with The Los Angeles Times calling it "the work of an ambitious young man who clearly loves to read, who has a good eye for detail, but who has spent way too much time on style and virtually none on substance.” While The Guardian found it to be “a promising debut from a most unlikely source.”
The next release from Franco the author was, Actors Anonymous, which is apparently “a dark, genre-bending work that mixes memoir and pure invention in an audacious examination of celebrity, acting and the making of fiction.” In their review, The Independent called it “irritating and self indulgent”, while the New York Daily News for better or worse labeled it, “pure Franco.”
Franco’s also written extensively for publications such as Vice, GQ and The New York Times. In the latter he once spent nearly 800 words musing about Instagram and “the power of the selfie.” He’s also a poet, having released his first collection Directing Herbet White earlier this year and he even penned a very strange piece for President Obama’s inauguration.
James has passed on his knowledge of both writing and film making to students at NYU and UCLA where he has taught students. His latest endeavour is leading an online class entitled, “Introduction to Screenwriting for Short Films,” through website Skillshare.
Actor, student, writer, if Franco just stayed off Instagram and did less interviews you might be able to call him a bit of a renaissance man. But alas, most of Franco's work seems to be concentrated on one topic, himself and that's a subject we're beginning to grow tired of.