What More Can James Franco Achieve?
Ambitious. It’s possibly the best word, to sum up, the essence of who James Franco is. At only 35 years old, the man has already accomplished so much in film and arts. How he is even able to keep track of which hat to don as he wakes up in the morning is impossible to know. One day he appears on late night television to promote a movie that he appears in, the following day we’re reading about the release of his latest book. The common thread connecting all his achievements is his confidence that anything is possible.
Franco’s omnipresence has not gone unnoticed by his critics, and he’s received a lot of criticism for being unable to focus on one or two careers. He’s learned not to let the criticism keep him from reaching for his dreams, where ever they may take him. He’s even allowed himself to be roasted by his peers, sitting through two grueling hours of jaunts and jibes about his fickle nature and his inability to figure out who he is and what he wants to be.
His depth of character goes beyond the career paths that he tries his hand at. He is also both a student and an educator. Currently a Yale University Ph.D. student, he isn’t content with just soaking in knowledge, he seeks to share it wherever he can. He’s taught students at New York University how to modify poetry into short films and taught classes on writing at both Brooklyn College and Columbia University. He credits his late father, a successful Silicon Valley businessman, with instilling within him the thirst for knowledge.
It was his desire to escape his reality that first drew him toward acting, though. He remembers always enjoying acting, but his shyness held him back from pursuing it until his senior year in high school, and he felt connected to something bigger than himself. It was his opportunity to pretend to be a part of a world that he could only imagine, and he got hooked on the admiration that tends to accompany acting. He imagines that it’s the same for most actors, that filling a void in their lives is the driving force to choosing their career paths.
Without a doubt, Hollywood is where he has found the most success in his relatively short life. He has 135 acting credits, 60 producing credits, and 37 directing credits. These are in addition to credits that he has also received for writer, soundtrack, cinematographer, art, editor, and sound. There is very little that he hasn’t achieved in Hollywood, so naturally, he is often approached by budding actors with questions about how they can make it. His advice is very succinct, just go out there and do it. He points out that times are very different today than they were as recently as 20 years ago. Everyone has access to cameras and can make a movie today.
He sees a very close connection between acting and directing, with both positions working to achieve the same goals, which is to tell a story in a more or less narrative way. Where he says the two are different is in their responsibilities. As an actor, his commitment is to his character, and he’ll collaborate with others touching on his character, as a director his commitment is to every character and his collaboration extends to many additional areas.
A perfectionist with an insatiable desire for new experiences, there is little doubt that James Franco will continue to mature and develop as an artist. It’s very rare for someone to have accomplished as much as he has so early in life, but his confidence enables him to move forward and explore his interests despite what his critics may say about him. That is something to be admired.