According to the latest Vulture column on NewYorkMag.com, James Franco spilled the beans on Monday night during a screening of his sundance-bound film, Howl as to why on earth he ended up doing a soap and landed on General Hospital. After all the rumors and all the tidbits, it comes down to this 1) Franco is playing a former soap star in his new film, Maladies. This feature is the actor’s second joint-venture with the artist, Carter 2) Franco has been a long time fan of soaps since he was a kid!
From Vulture: “The idea came to him while preparing a second movie with the artist Carter. The new film (which will also feature Catherine Keener) is called Maladies, and Franco plays a former soap star. “Now, just because I’m playing a character who was formerly on a soap opera doesn’t mean I had to go on a soap opera, right?” said Franco. “So going on General Hospital isn’t directly related to Maladies. But we got to talking, like, ‘Hey, what if I really did a soap opera? That would be kind of amazing!’”
“It turns out Franco has been a soap fan for a long time. “I was home sick a lot because I didn’t like school when I was little,” he said. “So if I wasn’t watching my VHS copy of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or Whoopi Goldberg’s movie Jumping Jack Flash — because those were the only two movies we had the foresight to record — I guess I was watching soap operas.” So he called up the folks at General Hospital, who were, of course, ecstatic. He only gave them one bit of direction: “I said, ‘I want to play an artist, and I want him to be crazy.’ And they wrote this character that was better than I could have ever asked for. It was their idea to call the character Franco. I said, ‘That’s crazy. Thank you.’” It was only after he’d signed up that he decided to bring his own crew along to film the filming, he said, “because I wanted to really have ownership over the piece.” (This footage would be part of his yet-to-be-confirmed performance-art show at Deitch Projects’ Long Island City space this spring). And, in true meta form, that show might in turn be taped for a special episode of General Hospital. Franco said the soap has made him a better actor. He recently auditioned for the role of Aron Ralston, the real-life trapped hiker who amputated his own arm with a pocket knife, in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire follow-up, 127 Hours. The director asked him to quickly memorize and deliver his audition speech, and Franco nailed it. “Because I had just done General Hospital, where I was doing 77 pages a day, I can memorize like that,” he said snapping his fingers. “I have to give credit to General Hospital for being able to memorize like that, and I got the part!”