James Franco is best known for being a jack of all trades. The California native is an award-winning actor and filmmaker, a college professor as well as an avid student, a prolific academic and mathematician, a serious painter and Huffington Post blogger, a published author and poet; the list goes on and on.
Franco dropped out of college to pursue his acting career, eventually landing one of the lead roles in the short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks, starring alongside future stars Jason Segel and Seth Rogen. Since then, Franco has grown into an accomplished professional. His intense dedication and seemingly unstoppable drive has pushed him further and further with every new project he undertakes. In honour of the UK release of his latest movie, Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, here is a look back of some of the most memorable roles of his film career yet.
James Dean (2001) – James Dean
Playing the title character in this biopic about the legendary actor, James Franco immersed himself completely into the complex role, going from being a non-smoker to smoking two packs a day. He also learned how to ride a motorcycle and play the guitar and bongos. He received a Golden Globe for his performance as well as nominations for an Emmy and an SAG Award.
Spider-Man (2002) – Harry Osborne
Franco received worldwide fame and recognition with his role as Harry Osborne, the son of villain Green Goblin and best friend to Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. The film was a commercial and critical success that would later lead him to reprise his role in the second and third instalments of the superhero franchise in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
Pineapple Express (2008) – Saul Silver
Co-starring alongside former Freaks and Geeks alum Seth Rogen, Franco plays lazy pot dealer Saul Silver who winds up on the run from hitmen after being implicated with a dropped bag of weed at the scene of a crime. His performance earned him another Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, praised for his ability to transform a simple role into a three-dimensional character.
Milk (2008) – Scott Smith
Franco starred opposite Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch in this powerful drama about Harvey Milk’s life and career. Playing Scott Smith, the boyfriend of Penn’s Milk, Franco further proved his versatile skill as an actor who could take on virtually any role. He won the Independent Spirit Award in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his performance.
127 Hours (2010) – Aron Ralston
Under the direction of Academy-Award winning director Danny Boyle, Franco gives a chilling performance as he portrays real life mountain-climber Aron Ralston as he tries to free his hand after it becomes trapped under a boulder in a ravine. His most well-received movie, Franco earned a Golden Globe, SAG Award, and Academy Award nomination for Best Actor as well as winning an Independent Spirit Award.
Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) – Oz
Franco takes the lead again in the latest delve into L. Baum’s world of Oz. Playing a small-time magician with dubious ethics who gets swept away into a fantasy land by a familiar tornado, he stars alongside the three witches portrayed by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams. Bringing a fresh take to a classic story, Franco gives his character just the right combination of arrogance and charisma that provides an interesting background to the original character.
Spring Breakers (2013) – Alien
Starring alongside Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine, Franco takes on the role of Alien in Harmony Korine’s latest film Spring Breakers. Completely embracing the ganster-with-a-heart-of-gold persona, Franco shines in the role as he takes the four college girls under his wing of drugs and guns, promising them a spring break none of them will ever forget.
Spring Breakers hits UK cinemas Today, Friday 5th April