James Franco talks about playing gay characters: “Maybe I’m just gay.”


James Franco is on one of Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar Preview covers – not only because he’s one of the Oscar hosts this year, but because he’s likely going to be an Oscar contender, for 127 Hours. My opinion of Franco has drastically changed over the course of the past year. I started out really liking him, and then at some point, I just started finding him exhausting. He pisses me off – he’s a wonderful actor, one of the best of his generation, and he pisses it away too often in his attempts to be Too Much. He’s not just Franco The Actor. He wants to be Franco The Writer, Franco The Artist, Franco The Provocateur. Eh. He’s not provocative, he just seems like an emo teenager with “so much to say” only his poetry reads like lyrics from The Cure, you know? And Franco’s writing sucks. Whatever.

But still, I have lingering attatchment to Franco, because I keep hoping he grows out of the “Dirtlip As Performance Art” phase. And interviews like this EW piece certainly help – James talks about sexuality, identity politics and performance with a lot of depth and authenticity here:

“Is James Franco gay?” is a favorite query of the pop-cultural chattering classes. It’s not like it’s unique to him: Having the public ponder your sexuality is a celebrity rite of passage. But the thing that makes Franco’s case so interesting is that, unlike the loud denials from some stars and even louder silences from others, the response from the 127 Hours star (who, for the record, has been in a years-long relationship with actress Ahna O’Reilly) is actually pretty nuanced. Franco addressed the rumor-mill mentality in an exclusive interview with EW for our recent cover story.

“It’s funny because the way that kind of stuff is talked about on blogs is so black-and-white,” Franco says. “It’s all cut-and-dry identity politics. ‘Is he straight or is he gay?’ Or, ‘This is your third gay movie — come out already!’ And all based on, gay or straight, based on the idea that your object of affection decides your sexuality.”

The actor definitely doesn’t let the speculation inhibit his choice of roles; Franco’s filmography is packed with gay characters, from Allen Ginsberg in Howl, to activist Scott Smith in Milk and poet Hart Crane in his just-wrapped feature The Broken Tower.

“There are lots of other reasons to be interested in gay characters than wanting myself to go out and have sex with guys,” he says. “And there are also lots of other aspects about these characters that I’m interested in, in addition to their sexuality. So, in some ways it’s coincidental, in other ways it’s not. I mean, I’ve played a gay man who’s living in the ’60s and ’70s, a gay man who we depicted in the ‘50s, and one being in the ‘20s. And those were all periods when to be gay, at least being gay in public, was much more difficult. Part of what I’m interested in is how these people who were living anti-normative lifestyles contended with opposition. Or, you know what, maybe I’m just gay.”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

Not a denial, not a confirmation, but a genuine conversation about being a straight actor drawn to playing gay men. It would be wonderful to see someone like Tom Cruise or John Travolta talk about performance and sexuality like this. But they won’t. See – Franco is a wonderful actor. Why all of the extra drama and dumb “art” stuff? Just be a great actor.



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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25 Responses to “James Franco talks about playing gay characters: “Maybe I’m just gay.””

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  1. beth says:

    haha, maybe you just are, james!

  2. Sarah says:

    I adore him. Gay, straight, artsy, not artsy, whatever. I think he is beautiful and just amazing. aw, swooon.

  3. Johnny Depp's Girl says:

    I dunno, he just really does not do it for me..

    As you say Kaiser, he trys tooo hard and it really is a put off.

  4. beth says:

    i loved franco since i saw him goofing away as that pothead in pineapple express… and then i saw the way he KISSED sean penn… and I GOT SOOO JEALOUS. damn you, sean penn.

  5. dayjolie says:

    Pretentious wannabe artist

  6. mln76 says:

    I don’t think you read the whole article it mentions his girlfriend (who I never realized he was dating) Ahna O’Reilly.

    And the sentence before maybe I’m just gay is. ‘But then, as if he realizes he may have explained away too much he adds,”Or, you know what, maybe I’m just gay.”

    I think he was just fucking with people again.

  7. Marjalane says:

    Do not get the attraction in any way, shape or form. Maybe I’d have to see him “act” like an attractive, hot man to find it. What is with that lip dirt anyway?!

  8. Isabel says:

    I’m the opposite. He used to annoy the shit out of me, but now, I think he’s absolutely endearing. I don’t think he’s trying for an image. I think he’s seizing as many opportunities as possible and he’s stoned as hell. And he’s a great guy. I would let him live rent free in my basement, and he’d probably be pretty cool with it.

    mln76 – good point!!

  9. normades says:

    I think he honestly doesn’t care if people think he’s gay (in fact he likes to play with it like he did in 30 Rock) and that’s refreshing. I respect all his “artsy” extra curricular activities. Good for him that he doesn’t just want to be some shallow hollywood actor faux dating some shallow starlett. Because that would be easy to do and he could if he waned to.

  10. mln76 says:

    @Isabel there is also a whole part of the article that explains he isn’t a stoner either (sorry) @ Normandes I loved that 30 rock episode with Kimiko one of the best ever!
    EDIT : @Bella Bella thanks for that clip I love Freaks and Geeks.

  11. GeekChic says:

    I’m with Isabel… He was never anything special to me before (although I loved Freaks and Geeks), but he has grown on me. I don’t think he “tries” to be some deep, esoteric artist-type. I think he’s just weird, and what you see with him is who is really is. We just aren’t used to actors showing off all of their eccentricities for all the world to see, and when they do, people scratch their heads and proclaim them to be weird and “trying too hard” (see one Angelina Jolie for more evidence). I like a person who is not afraid to be themselves, even if they are weird, almost doofy, people. I find it refreshing and pretty cute. Maybe it’s just because I’m a weird, almost doofy person myself!

  12. Hollowdoll says:

    James Franco is a quirky dude and I like it. I wish more male celebrities acted like he does. As much as he is trying different hats and is all over the place. I don’t think he takes himself too seriously and is just having fun.

  13. Bodhi says:

    I love LOVE me some Franco! I think he is just a weirdo who has the ability to explore whatever he wants. He has to be brilliant to get into an Ivy League Ph.D program regardless of money. Despite what people think, getting into those programs isn’t all about money.

    Anyway, I think the fact that he has had a girlfriend for years is a pretty good indication that he is straight. Although I am bummed as hell to find out that he isn’t pinning away for me!

  14. Arianna says:


  15. Mia Girl says:

    Kaiser… While I hear what you saying, as Franco’s creative “ventures” can sometimes seem obnoxious, I’ll just add that some artistic people are truly compelled to express themselves in as many ways as they can and need various creative outlets for themselves. It doesn’t mean that they are (or even intend to be) good at every type of expression. They just need to express. Many actors paint and/or write and/or venture into music, etc. and some very successfully (i.e. Steve Martin)
    In Franco’s case, it does seem that he tries to be important at them all and almost dares us to rolls our eyes at his creative explosions because they are so frequent and almost haphazard. It’s almost as if the whole thing is performance art! I kinda like him and think that even though he gives an air of importance to his “art”, he doesn’t not come off as self-important.
    And I give him credit for not following any conventional mold and maybe even forging some new ground for young actors.

  16. lucy2 says:

    I’m with you Kaiser- like him as an actor, but all the other stuff is getting on my nerves. Not so much that he has so many interests, I think that’s great, but the publicizing of all of them annoys me. It seems less like doing things for the enjoyment of them and more to be able to say “I do this, I do that.” And I agree, what little I read of his writing was not very good, IMO.
    “he tries to be important at them all ” – well put, Mia.

  17. Jay says:

    FWIW, not that I *need* to know, but I interpret his opening quote as bi, not gay. Actually, are there any self-declared bi male celebrities? Many self-declared bi female celebrities, but I can’t think of a male one off the top of my head.

  18. Camille says:

    I don’t think all that much of him and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was bi (not that there is anything wrong with that).
    He is probably that ‘toothy tile’ guy that people always try to say is Jake G.

  19. lin234 says:

    I get the feeling if he were gay, he’d just come out. You’ve got to give him props for trying everything out whether it’s television, movies, and school.

  20. Kim says:

    Is this him coming out making this sly comment? weak!

  21. Trillion says:

    He’s not a wannabe artist. He is an artist. His mother and grandmother are artists too. It’s in his DNA. On another note: I HATE that mustache. Hate it.

  22. Solveig says:

    I’m almost sure I already wrote this before here in CB, but imo he’s not trying hard to sound artsy or whatever, I think he genuinely believes his own hype, like children do, and not in a narcissistic way.
    I think he is a good actor, and I’m looking forward to seeing 127 hours. I’m not interested in his writings or paintings and I don’t care if they are good or bad, as long as he is good on movies, I can’t ask for more.

  23. Liana says:

    Actually, are there any self-declared bi male celebrities?

    Alan Cumming, Andy Dick, David Bowie, I believe. Other than them, I can’t off the top of my head think of any other “out” bi male actors.

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