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Each time, the huddle of students watching in one room over titters with delight.
Forty-five minutes ahead of schedule, the scene is done. Breaking from a scrum of students and extras who want to take pictures with him, Franco spots me and smiles the smile, his fake mustache now gleaming in the low basement light. " acting opposite Seth Rogen, who would become a friend and frequent collaborator.
"On comedies, usually everybody's fucking around between takes, but that's not James' process," Hamburg says. The other day he was in hair and makeup, typing on a laptop.
I said, ' What are you doing, writing a novel?
Not just teaching, but taking graduate-level courses in filmmaking and literature; publishing his own fiction and poems with, among other people, Don De Lillo's editor; collaborating with performance-art icon Marina Abramovic and mounting exhibitions of his own art, including a close-up video of urinating penises and defecating assholes; guest starring on on Broadway; founding a rock band called Daddy; directing his own passion projects based on Faulkner novels and the lives of obscure homosexual character actors. Abrams and based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, in which Franco plays a time-traveler tasked with stopping the John F. It's one of the best things he's done in years, and a reminder that – all his multihyphenate activities notwithstanding – he remains one of the most gifted, compulsively watchable actors of his generation. Franco leaves for wardrobe and dons a paisley vest and peak-lapel overcoat.
Add to these dizzying bullet points approximately a zillion other improbable career choices, and you could make the case that Franco, 37, is the most productive man in pop culture. He plays a wealthy theater impresario called Fry, with just two lines in this scene, 14 words in all.
Since he hates wasting time, the result is an absurd tableau: As the stuntmen scuffle right in front of him, he sits cross-legged in a canvas folding chair, calmly sips coffee and reads not one but two different paperbacks at once – a Jackson Pollock biography and Toni Morrison's .
"They're in a class of mine at UCLA – I mean USC," Franco says.
I think that's why audiences like him, because he's weird and he does all this stuff that's so fascinating and bizarre, but onscreen he seems like your silly friend you hang out with, who'd pull his pants down to make you laugh.
And he involves a ton of choreography performed by stunt doubles, which translates to a ton of sitting around for Franco.
This smile is one of Franco's most versatile weapons: It can communicate disarming sweetness, a threat of feral menace or Buddha-like bliss.
The director David Gordon Green recalls that, while shooting Franco in "I asked him about the smile: ' What are you doing?
' He says, ' Sometimes I'm imagining a fan blowing hot air on me.