James Franco has been a busy man over the last couple of years having completed a string of upcoming and recently released movies that he's both directed and starred in, and you can hardly call him typecast! He is set to shock us as usual this March with his unusual choice of role in 'Spring Breakers' where he stars as a charismatic, platinum-toothed drugs and arms dealer, followed by the very different role of Hugh Hefner in the pornstar biopic 'Lovelace'.
We love this sense of 'anything is possible' that James seems to live by; his ability to transform himself into absolutely any character and yet never take himself too seriously is both engaging and tremendously entertaining. Here we have the many faces of James Franco; our favourite, and the most memorable, roles of his career so far.
As we have mentioned, 'Spring Breakers' is due for release very soon in the US on March 22nd 2013. Our jaws dropped yet again on witnessing James Franco's latest role; a metal-toothed gangster with braided hair and a Hawaiian shirt was really not what we would've expected from him (had we even dared hazard a guess at his next project). In the movie, his character Alien bails out a group of bikini clad girls who had been arrested on their spring break vacation for armed robbery with the hope of using them for his own criminal needs. It's a far cry from his previous drug dealer role as the greasy-haired stoner Saul Silver who finds himself in trouble with the real mobster power in town in 'Pineapple Express', but it looks just as ridiculous and brings out a new side of him; he's perfectly happy to be laughed at and it's clear that he'll never be afraid of commercially dubious new projects.
James has earned our respect with the majority of the movies he's appeared in, but his roles in two gay biopics definitely deserve ultimate praise. In 2008, he appeared alongside Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant's 'Milk'; a movie about the life and loves of gay rights activist and first openly gay politician Harvey Milk. He starred as Scott Smith, the boyfriend of Milk and his biggest supporter. He won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male in the flick and went on to play the lead part in the Allen Ginsberg biopic 'Howl'. The famous gay poet has also inspired a second biographical movie, 'Kill Your Darlings', which stars 'Harry Potter' actor Daniel Radcliffe. Gay rights seems to be something that James holds close to his heart; one of his more recent projects that he has directed and starred in is a docudrama called 'Interior. Leather Bar' which explores the controversy behind the X-rated deleted scenes in Al Pacino's 1980 film 'Cruising'. It is clear from his ideas about sexuality that he is much more than just a talented actor, he's also an excellent thinker.
The Ambitious Adventurer
2010's '127 Hours' saw James in yet another biopic lead role. This time, he plays the intrepid canyoneer Aron Ralston who gets his arm trapped by a boulder while descending the Blue John Canyon in Utah, an incident which leaves him stuck and alone for five days with little food and water and no means of communication. It's a pretty harrowing movie to watch, especially considering it's a true story, but James really manages to capture the energy and bravery of Ralston making it one of his most believable movies yet. It's no surprise that he received seven awards for Best Actor, as well as Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. This 'ambitious adventurer' role is set to be reinstated in the upcoming 'Wizard of Oz' prequel, 'Oz: The Great and Powerful', which sees James as the unlikely hero Oscar Diggs on his first journey to the Land of Oz; a film that will hit our screens this March.
The Cool Guy
James Franco probably first came to international prominence with his part as the wealthy and aloof Harry Osborn, son of the villainous Green Goblin in Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man' trilogy. The fact that James is a handsome guy who rose to fame playing this revered, popular, floppy-haired business heir, sort of suggested that he'd be typecast this way for the rest of his career. After all, his portrayal of iconic actor James Dean in the TV biographical movie of the same name gave him a Golden Globe, a sign that most actors would take to mean that that kind of role is what they're good at. However, he hasn't let his looks became his stereotype, working hard to always find something that little bit different to add to his back catalogue.
It's clear that James Franco will never fail to surprise his fans (or his critics for that matter) and will continue to explore every possible corner of movie making with his thirst for experience. What's to look forward to this year? Well, we've already mentioned 'Lovelace' and 'Spring Breakers', but he has also directed a couple of emotional looking dramas - one being 'Child of God', about a violent recluse who goes to live in a cave, and another entitled 'As I Lay Dying', based on the novel by Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner. Along with a new comedy, 'This Is the End', also starring Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson as themselves, 2013 looks set to be a seminal year for our new favourite Hollywood star.