James Franco has quickly become a favorite fan actor over the last decade. With many memorable performances on screen and a charming persona, it should come as no surprise. He has many friends within the industry, and his movies tend to do quite well at the box office. He also contributes to the creative side of filmmaking, and his range as an actor allows him to slip into many different genres with relative ease. As something of a celebration of his career thus far, here’s a look back at some of his most well-known movies.
1 – Spider-Man 1, 2, & 3
In the early 2000s, James Franco was cast as Harry Osborn in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films. While not quite as revered as the modern day Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, the franchise was an immense hit, mostly thanks to Raimi’s passion for the character and source material. Franco’s character has quite a wide arc throughout the films, starting as protagonist Peter Parker’s best friend from high school and son of the primary villain, Norman Osborn. Of course, he went on to become a villain of sorts himself in the third film, where he portrayed the new Green Goblin. While the third entry in the franchise was panned for its campy atmosphere, Franco’s performance stood out as one of the most highly regarded elements.
2 – James Dean
Though only a TV film, Franco famously starred in Mark Rydell’s James Dean biographical film. This is largely what first put the charming young actor on the map. His resemblance to the legendary James Dean was immediately striking, as was his ability to match the intensity necessary to successfully fill such daunting shoes on screen. It isn’t as commonly remembered as some of his later work, but this casting is undoubtedly the catalyst for Franco’s entire career moving forward.
3 – Pineapple Express
In 2008, Franco won the hearts of many with his performance as the lovable drug dealer Saul Silver in Pineapple Express, a film written by the comedy powerhouse duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It’s in this film where Franco’s natural ability to shine in comedic performances first stood out, and his participation with that particular crew of filmmakers would provide the grounds for several hit movies to come.
4 – Milk
Franco followed Pineapple Express almost immediately with Milk, a biographical drama about gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. The film received many accolades and awards. Despite the much heavier subject matter, Franco proved that he was more than capable enough to handle serious drama performances with his portrayal of Scott Smith, one of the Milk’s lovers.
5 – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Kicking off what become another major blockbuster franchise, James Franco appeared in 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes as Will Rodman, a scientist responsible for the breakthrough that eventually leads to the titular ape uprising. While his role doesn’t have much presence in the obligatory sequels, Franco reminded audiences once again he was capable of much more than the silliness he’d become known for with recent films such as Your Highness.
6 – 127 Hours
While there are certainly other notable James Franco movies, whether you want another comedic turn from the likes of This Is The End or a major franchise picture such as Oz the Great And Powerful, 127 Hours is perhaps his most iconic film. In fact, he carries the movie almost entirely by himself. A gripping story about the real-life struggle of a canyoneering trapped by a boulder, this is the sole film to have earned Franco an Academy Award Best Actor nomination.