The star behind several hit movies including Spring Breakers returned to school in 2006 when he enrolled in UCLA in California as an English major. He later taught a number of other courses and admits one of the reasons he went back to school to branch out creatively.
He told the New York Magazine: “One of the reasons that I went back to school — and then many schools — was that when I only had acting, I felt trapped. I think that’s how a lot of people feel in a lot of professions.”
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Franco added: “When I went to Yale for my Ph.D. in literature, I had fellow students — great students, writing incredible papers — come up to me and say, “I’m so jealous of you. I’m writing this paper. If I get it published, 50 people will read it.”
And the 37-year-old actor, who admits having “more than four” degrees thinks studying, as well as his adventures as a filmmaker, have made him a better actor because he understands what is required of him in front of the camera.
He explained: “Doing these other things was a release, and I think it made me a better actor.
“Because when I was only acting, I was trying to do all of these things as an actor. I was on my own mission. I was acting for myself — to do a great performance for me, not for the movie. But that’s not my job as an actor.
“My job as an actor is to help the director achieve his or her vision.
“As soon as I got to direct my own films or escape the film world and into these other realms, when I came back to the film world, I could be pure about it.
“I don’t think my performance in ‘Spring Breakers’ could’ve happened if I didn’t do all this other stuff. I couldn’t have lent myself to that if I didn’t have the release in these other areas.
“Because if I was only an actor, then all I have are my performances, and so I’m going to be so much more protective and defensive of my performances.
“But when I have my own movies, my own work that I get to control, then I can say, ‘Oh, you want me to go crazy in that room? You want me to have cornrows and gold teeth and look like a freak? All right. It’s your movie. I’m game.’ ”
James Franco is now working on his new HBO TV series The Deuce, which is filming in New York City. If you’re interested in working with James Franco, check out the latest casting call for The Deuce here.