Actor James Franco was named by Salon.com as one of “10 men who might just inspire the rebirth of Jewish male cool.” Though of Russian Jewish heritage on his mother’s side, Franco never had a Bar Mitzvah. “I wish I had though,” he said wistfully. He played a Jewish drug dealer in Pineapple Express and was accused of appearing stoned when he hosted the 83rd Academy Awards. Nominated as Best Actor for his lead role in “127 Hours,” Franco is also known for his role in “Milk” as Sean Penn’s lover, as Allen Ginsberg in “Howl,” and for his latest movie, “The Broken Tower,” in which he plays Hart Crane, an American homosexual alcoholic poet who committed suicide by jumping off a ship at age 32.
“The Broken Tower” is Franco’s New York University film school thesis project, which he wrote, directed and stars in. Previously, Franco earned two masters in writing, from Columbia University and Brooklyn College. Voted Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, Franco has said he never relaxes and doesn’t even like to sleep because “there’s too much to do.” That seemed apparent when he showed up disheveled for his recent interview with The Arty Semite.
Dorri Olds: Why did you want to make a movie about Hart Crane?