Most actors strive to be a triple threat; James Franco puts them to shame. The actor, film director, screenwriter, producer, film editor, teacher, author and poet has an ever growing resume that began with his humble beginnings on the TV show “Freaks and Geeks” and currently ends with his role as writer-actor-director of the new film “Child of God.” The film centers on Lester Ballard, a deranged, violent necrophiliac for whom we somehow feel sympathy.
Franco, 36, a Palo Alto, Califorina native, is known for going back to film school at New York University and pursuing a Ph.D. at Yale University even after his career had taken off. And with a penchant for making films from unfilmable books like this one — based on Cormac McCarthy’s book of the same name — the man of many titles is bound to only add more.
The Forward’s Dorri Olds sat with Franco to discuss this project as well as those past and future.
Dorri Olds: Why do you choose literary books that don’t lend themselves to film?
James Franco: That’s a good question. I just saw an interview with Robert Altman kind of talking about the same thing. His process is not Kubrick’s process, and you wouldn’t want it to be. I went to film school NYU, where the MFA [Master of Fine Arts] program teaches you to find your own voice. Before film school I had written screenplays and found I wasn’t pushing myself as far as I could. In school I began to adapt poems for films. “Herbert White” was based on a poem by Frank Bidart, and “The Clerk’s Tale” was by Spencer Reece.