Thursday, 26 August 2010

James Franco

He can’t be serious. James Franco has recently emerged from being an actor with a cult following (with roles in television and film ranging from Freaks and Geeks to Spider-Man to Eat, Pray, Love) to an artist that counts acting among his many other interests: Franco has seemingly become a super-charged, professional dilettante. After dropping out of UCLA after his freshman year, he returned, ten years later, to finish his degree in two years before then going on to pursue degrees in, among yet others, film at NYU, writing at Columbia, and, the piece de resistance, a PhD in English at Yale. After becoming involved in the art world, he emerged as an artist in his own right and garnered a solo exhibition at the Clocktower Gallery in New York. After despairing of a career that was becoming too Hollywood mediocre, he nabbed a recurring role on General Hospital in which his role as “Franco,” an artist, was a self-proclaimed piece of performance art: “I disrupted the audience's suspension of disbelief, because no matter how far I got into the character, I was going to be perceived as something that doesn't belong to the incredibly stylized world of soap operas. Everyone watching would see an actor they recognized, a real person in a made-up world.” Yet, in the fulfillment of his many interests, whether it be as a student, artist or actor, Franco has combined a wandering and cryptic free spirit with a seeming need for the approval of the establishment: is Franco the embodiment of an earnest, overly scheduled, and artistically inclined “Organization Kid”? As Sam Anderson writes in his profile of Franco in New York magazine, Franco is perhaps the “world’s most ironic earnest guy.” It is never really clear whether Franco is just playing around, being played, or playing with us. In any case, at the least, this act has propelled him to even greater fame: you’ve got to fake it to make it.

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