Interview By: Michael Dance MichaelDance@TheCinemaSource.com
James Franco is a more of a jack-of-all-trades than some people might expect. Since blasting his way to mainstream stardom when he landed the role of Harry Osborn in the original Spider-Man, his career has seen its ups and downs. Over the past few years, with the exception of Spider-Man 2, his career seems to be populated with underperforming films like Annapolis, Flyboys, and The Great Raid.
Yet, if you look closer, you’ll see a wide variety of roles in films both mainstream and risky, big and small. Before Spider-Man, he won a Golden Globe for starring as one of his idols (and his lookalike), James Dean, in a TNT original movie. Before that, he worked with Judd Apatow – the guy responsible for The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up – on the much-beloved series Freaks and Geeks. And in the past few years he’s worked with the late, great Robert Altman (2003′s The Company), filmed the Oscar-baiting upcoming film In the Valley of Elah, and even wrote and directed his own film: Good Time Max, which appeared at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
One assumes the Spider-Man movies, though, remain his bread and butter. Luckily, they’re widely considered to be great films – and the billions of dollars in box office grosses can’t hurt, either.
“With Tobey, Kirsten, and Sam, it was fantastic,” Franco says of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and their director Sam Raimi. “Because you know we have been working together almost five, six years. So there’s a great rapport and working relationship between all of us.”
He was eager to get to work on Spider-Man 3 mainly thanks to the collaborative environment he knew he’d find himself in. “It’s always been collaborative,” he says. “I mean, I remember on the first one, before we filmed, going
He was not disappointed on the set of this third film. “On part three [Sam] was even more collaborative. I guess he trusted us more, he really gave us a lot of room to develop the characters, and gave us a lot of responsibility, just to make sure that the characters were being expressed in the ways that they should, and that their arcs were being completed as they should, and it’s great. It’s satisfying because it makes me feel like I’m really a contributor, and the final product is something I really had a part in.” He smiles. “More than just saying lines.”
Franco really sees this film as the payoff to the first two, especially for his own character. “[Harry's] arc doesn’t really come to any kind of fruition until the third one, you know? He’s left hanging at the end of the first one, he’s left hanging at the end of the second one, it’s a cliffhanger, and so all the movies go together. It’s really like a traditional trilogy, it’s a true trilogy.”
He laughs at the prospect of sequels that studios usually churn out just because of a lack of creativity, happy that all three Spider-Man films are driven from a creative standpoint. (There’s that 250 million dollar budget too, but, you know, aside from that.) “Usually what happens when you have sequels is, you create a character in a movie, and the