James Franco use to sneakily read Playboy magazine when he was younger.

The 34-year-old actor plays the publication's founder Hugh Hefner in upcoming biopic 'Lovelace' - which stars Amanda Seyfried as the titular porn star character - and he admits he has always been a ''fan'' of the entrepreneur's racy work.

When asked by ShortList magazine whether he has ever met Hugh, James replied: ''No, although I've always been a fan of his work since I was a kid. Seriously, if I could get my hands on his magazines I would - my friend's father had a stash we used to look at when he wasn't home.

''I play him during his 70s persona - a much younger, more self-aware Hef. It's funny, watching old interviews to research the part, I saw that he's not just a smut-hound, he's pretty interesting.

''His aim was to mix the mind and body in his magazine in a way that was unprecedented back then - really raw. It's a tame publication these days.''

James hopes Hugh will appreciate his ''dignified'' portrayal and he has made sure to capture the darker side of porn accurately.

He added: ''I tried to portray him with a bit of complexity and dignity. But there are also the needs of the film to address - to fit him into the kind of story the producers are trying to tell.

''Linda Lovelace might have started off wide-eyed about the porn industry, but it gets serious, and Hef has to deliver some of that harshness to her. I don't think he's seen it yet, but I hope he'll like it.''

The late Linda Lovelace - real name Linda Boreman - is one of the most famous adult actresses of all-time and shot to prominence after appearing in 1972 movie 'Deep Throat'.

However, she later became a prominent anti-porn campaigner and claimed she had been forced into a life of porn by her controlling and abusive husband Chuck Traynor.