Why: James Franco is not Hollywood’s go-to actor. Nor he is not the highest paid actor in his profession. But I’ll tell you one thing…he is a damn good actor and you can always count on him delivering. Moreover, Franco is smart about the roles he chooses. Rather than picking some film for decent size paycheck Franco chooses films, which will help define his career and also help him define the movie. I will not argue that Franco has done some less than stellar films, but who hasn’t? It’s his individual performances that truly count. Franco’s first film was Never Been Kissed (1999) where he worked alongside Drew Barrymore, John C. Reilly, and David Arquette. However, he didn’t truly burst onto the scene until he starred in the short-lived cult TV show Freaks and Geeks. Franco was so good in that series that one must see his performances in order to truly appreciate it. In 2001 he starred in the TV movie James Dean playing the title character. Now, I’ve never seen it but IMDB gave it a 7.2/10 stars, which is good. Even without seeing it I feel very confidant that Franco did a good job. He looks somewhat similar to the 50’s icon and definitely knows how to play the cool factor. The following year Franco got his biggest break in Spider-Man (which he starred in all three) as Harry Osborn, son of the Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin. His representation of a son who isn’t appreciated by his father but desperately willing to seek his approval was accurate to the comic book character. In 2007, Franco had a very small role in a good but highly depressing military film entitled In Valley of Ellah starring Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. Why he didn’t have a bigger part in this film is beyond me, but it was still a good movie and performance nonetheless. In 2008, he starred in the stoner hit-comedy Pineapple Express with Seth Rogen. Franco was great in this film because he showed audiences how funny he can be. I thought he was perfect for the role of Sol the pot dealer because the guy constantly looks stoned much like Jim Breuer. To further show his versatility, Franco starred in Milk that same year. He played Sean Penn’s gay lover. While I don’t know much about the story of Harvey Milk, other than what was portrayed, their chemistry was authentic and added to the validity of the film.
Franco does not pigeon hole himself into a certain genre. He feels the necessity to explore all options, which is why he played a whacky re-occurring character on the daytime soap opera General Hospital from 2009-2010. If you were to Google any episode you may think it’s a joke because his character is called Franco and he’s so strange to say the least. I guess he did that just to mix things up and keep his career fresh.
James Franco is more than just an actor and I don’t think he would define himself as just that. Many do not know this but he is enrolled at Columbia Universities Graduate Program for Fictional Writing and the Graduate Film Program at NYU. Talk about a man who is dedicated to the arts. Therefore, for reasons such as this I name James Franco September’s Actor of the Month!