James Franco life and biography

James Franco picture, image, poster

James Franco biography

Date of birth : 1978-04-19
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Palo Alto, California, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-02-27
Credited as : Actor 30 Rock, film director and screenwriter, Oscars 2011

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James Edward Franco is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, author, and painter. He began acting during the late 1990s, appearing on the short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks and starring in several teen films.

James Franco is the eldest of three brothers born to Doug Franco and writer and editor Betsy Levine. He briefly attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied English and drama, before dropping out in his freshman year to pursue a career as an actor. Franco returned to UCLA and earned his undergraduate degree in 2008. He moved to New York City where he worked toward his MFA at Columbia and attended New York Univeristy's Tisch School of the Arts for filmmaking. Franco cuurently plans to attend Yale for a PhD in English in 2010.

After fifteen months of intensive study with noted drama coach Robert Carnegie at Playhouse West, Franco landed his breakthrough starring role in the critically acclaimed but short-lived NBC series Freaks and Geeks in 1999. James Franco's film debut was co-starring in the 1999 Drew Barrymore vehicle Never Been Kissed, followed by the 2000 romantic comedy Whatever It Takes. But it was his standout title performance in 2001's TNT cable biopic James Dean that made critics stand up and take notice of the young actor. His portrayal earned him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in 2002. Turning to more commercial fare, Franco took on the role of Harry Osborne, the son of the villainous Green Goblin, in the Spider-Man films.

Having firmly established his acting credentials, Franco next turned his eye toward more commercial fare. In 2002, Franco hit the proverbial jackpot with roles in two high-profile features. The first - the depressing mystery-drama, City by the Sea (2002), was a box office misfire, but afforded Franco valuable screen time opposite heavy hitters Robert De Niro and Frances McDormand. His follow-up, however - director Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" - was a colossal hit both commercially and artistically. Cast as Peter Parker's best friend and romantic rival, Harry Osborne, Franco created one of his most complex characters to date. An outwardly confident, but inwardly emotionally fragile individual, Franco's Osborne would find his screen time increasing in subsequent sequels. The young actor returned as a bitter, more driven Osborne in "Spider-Man 2" (2004), also directed by Raimi. While still not a true villain, per se, it was Franco's character that would set the wheels in motion for the hero's battle with the film's true heavy, Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina).

Balancing his commercial projects with more prestigious ventures, Franco appeared in director Robert Altman's ballet-themed ensemble comedy, The Company (2003). Though filmed in 2002, his next film, The Great Raid, was released in August 2005. In it, Franco played Captain Robert Prince, leader of the 6th Ranger Battalion team that went 30 miles behind Japanese lines to rescue 500 POWs from the notorious Cabanatuan prison camp during World War II. Through a steely gaze and clenched jaw, Franco played his character straight - minus his trademark nuance and intensity. Ultimately a failure, The Great Raid took in a paltry $3 million its opening weekend. Franco had scant better luck with his next big picture, "Flyboys" (2006) - a turn-of-the-century "Top Gun" adventure that bombed at the box office.

Despite the occasional missteps, Franco could always depend on the Marvel Comics universe to keep him front and center. Still obsessed by his irrational hatred for Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) - whom he blamed for the death of his father (Willem Dafoe) in the first movie - the exacting of Harry's revenge served as a major plot point for the film. Having inherited his late father's vast wealth and state-of-the-art weaponry, the movie's sub-plot dealt with Harry assuming the identity of the New Goblin, one of three super-villains out to kill everyone's favorite web slinger. Directed once again by the gifted Raimi, "Spider-Man 3" (2007) was billed as the last outing for the film's principal cast of Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and Franco.

Following a supporting turn as Sergeant Dan Carnelli in In the Valley of Elah (2007), he played a laconic pot dealer who g s on the run with one of his clients (Seth Rogen) after witnessing a murder committed by a crooked cop (Rosie Perez) in Pineapple Express (2008), which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical category. Then in the dark romantic comedy Camille (2008), he was a conniving petty thief whose marriage of convenience to a sweet, naïve girl (Sienna Miller) and honeymoon to Niagara Falls results in her death, though neither will let that stop them from having a good time and falling in love. Franco next delivered a strong co-starring role in "Milk" (2008), playing the lover of the openly gay activist and San Francisco County Supervisor, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn). Though most of the critical and award plaudits when to Penn for his powerful performance, Franco earned his share of accolades when he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Male.

In the fall of 2009, the established film star elicited plenty of head scratching within the blogosphere when he took a guest starring stint on the soap opera General Hospital (ABC, 1963- ). While the actor expressed an interest in doing something new and challenging by taking on the grueling shooting schedule of a soap opera, other reports suggested that Franco's daytime run as a mysterious assassin was part of a documentary film project about the actor. Following a guest starring turn as himself to carry on a fake romance with Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) on an episode of 30 Rock (NBC, 2006- ), Franco had a supporting role opposite Julia Roberts in the dramatic adaptation "Eat Pray Love" (2010). He next portrayed Beat Generation luminary Allen Ginsberg in the experimental film, "Howl" (2010), which explored the 1957 obscenity trial following the release of a famed book of poems. Franco went on to deliver arguably the best performance of his career to date in director Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" (2010), playing real life mountain climber, Aron Ralston, whose arm became trapped under a boulder while climbing alone in an isolated Utah canyon. Trapped for five days without food and water, Ralston must come to grips with the idea of cutting off his own hand with a dulled knife in order to break free. Both gut-wrenching and inspirational, Franco's performance drew high praise from critics amidst serious Oscar buzz. The actor ended up receiving Indie Spirit, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations for Best Actor. As further proof he had little to no ego, at the same time he was receiving award recognition for "127 Hours," it was announced Franco was returning to "General Hospital" to continue to terrorize the citizens of Port Charles.

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