James Franco says being homeless isn’t so hard

Spiderman actor James Franco says that being homeless isn’t all that hard. He made $20 in 30 minutes, he claims, researching a role in a movie.

The actor played a homeless drug addict in Robert De Niro movie City By The Sea and decided to live rough to prepare for the vagrant role.

And Franco admits it wasn’t that tough: “I stayed a whole weekend on the street, we panhandled, we made a sign.

“We made at least $20 in half an hour, so, if you’re ever out of work… make a sign – `Homeless, Please Help’.”

Contact Music

This sounds like those people that claim the homeless just do it for fun, and they’ve got thousands stuffed in a mattress at home. I worked night shift in the city and the people who are sleeping in shop doorways in the middle of winter aren’t finding it easy. The older men who live on the streets probably don’t find it as easy to panhandle as someone who is young, that good Samaritans probably assume is just temporarily out of luck. A professional actor should be able to invoke sympathy from passers by a lot more effectively than the genuinely homeless who lack those skills.

This has made me so annoyed, at a time when the economy is making people fear for their jobs that don’t pay exorbitant amounts of money. I’ll share this tidbit about James Franco too – not only is he a panhandling faker, but he also wears a prosthetic penis for his role in Mayor Harvey Milk. He’s all man right up until you get to the rubber, folks.

Photos are stills from City By The Sea thanks to AllMoviePhoto

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53 Responses to “James Franco says being homeless isn’t so hard”

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  1. Enonymous says:

    Yeah right James Franco, it is easier because you know that in the end of the day you have a nice home with a warm bed and a fridge full of food waiting for you when ever you feel bored playing the homeless man act. Shame the other people around you do not have that choice and are not as lucky.

  2. Wif says:

    Isn’t it also true that a major percentage of the homeless suffer from mental health issues too? That’s got to make it a hell of a lot tougher than when your thought processes are clear.

  3. Sol says:

    How can someone say that!!I agree with enonymous ,it’s easy to say that from a comfy position in life.Why doesn’t he say that to a homeless mom?Arghh it makes me mad to read this !!

  4. geronimo says:

    OMG. Am I the only one that read that for a completely off-the-cuff totally tongue-in-cheek comment? You know, like a joke?? How could anyone read this –

    …so, if you’re ever out of work… make a sign – `Homeless, Please Help’.”

    – and come to the conclusion that he was being serious?? Big irony-bypass situation. 🙄

  5. xiaoecho says:

    No Geronimo, no irony here, he totally MEAN’T it

    I’m with CB here – absolutely infuriating 👿

  6. Jessica says:

    James is still fine as hell though… You have to block out what comes out of the hole on his face!!

  7. geronimo says:

    How are you so sure, xia? And even if that’s what he thinks, it hardly warrants the outrage here. An actor saying something dumb – hold the front page. As if most people don’t already know the reality of life on the street. Sorry, totally misplaced outrage in my opinion.

  8. Roma says:

    I’m with you geronimo. I’ve read a lot of his interviews and he’s very witty and ironic, so I can’t see him being serious about this.

    James used to be a part Freaks & Geeks, which Judd Apatow produced. If anyone watched it, you should watch this Funny or Die video of an “out-take” from Knocked Up. It has swearing. But seriously, it’s only funny if you followed the show…


  9. snappyfish says:

    De Niro has a lot more sense than this idiot. Not to mention De Niro does a great deal to help with theose having a hard time in NYC.

    I am sure his ‘weekend’ on the street was not that bad. I am sure there were security nearby, I am sure he had money in his pocket if needed and the thougth of his lovely home in just a few more hours.

    If he did mean this to be funny, he has no sense of humor. Let’s not forget all the flack Tom Brokaw got years ago when going to work at his 12 million a year job early in AM when he saw a homeless guy and said that if that were him, he would get more sleep.

    Just because you have a mouth doesn’t mean you should open it.

  10. RAN says:

    I’ll weigh in about the fury everyone is feeling. We’ve all seen the plight of the homeless – New York, California, my own hometown… it’s just horrible. How can one little putz make a statement like that? Isn’t the world de-sensitized enough as it is? A lot of them are mentally ill, have no medical options and are dying a slow and fully exposed death. Not to mention the ‘good times’ during the winter.

    My daughter and I just bought food for one of the homeless guys in our town. When he came to the car for the food, it was clear to see how emaciated he was… a little piece of me just died for the poor man. In addition, he could barely walk and apologized for it! Yes, his life is easy… (sarcastic here). I’m getting more and more annoyed just typing this. That little punk should be making an effort to help people, not put out statements like ‘it’s ok… they really don’t suffer’.

  11. xiaoecho says:

    geronimo…..I agree with you – ‘some dumb actor…..etc’ but disagree that most people are aware of the horrors of homelessness. They see it while rushing by but mostly turn away without giving it a second thought. All this twit is doing is adding to the ignorance out there. Yeah, it’s not his job to be a social crusader, so he should shut the fukc up if flippancy is all he can manage.

    It’s the flippancy that outrages me – as enonymous said, he’s got a comfy bed to go to – and if he’s going to spout this sort of drivel while promoting the film, he’s part of the problem…..grrr

  12. Megan says:

    He probably made all that money in 30 minutes because people recognised his face. Usually homeless people get treated like dog turd by members of the public, which he can’t have experienced at all. This stinks of Tyra Banks and her ‘I know what it’s like to be homeless after 1 day on the streets’ speech.

  13. Jenna says:

    Eh, I seriously don’t think he meant his comment to be taken like this. Yeah, it is kinda stupid that he said it but people have said worse.

    Maybe it’s just me but I don’t really feel sorry for people who are homeless. The only thing that gets me are those who DO have a mental illness. The illness is a major reason why they are homeless.

    Then you have the rest of the homeless people who: a) Didn’t go to college and their parents wouldn’t loan them money everytime they needed it, b) Are hooked on drugs, c) Are just plain out pathetic.

    I don’t have homeless people in my city but if I travel two hours to Atlanta, I see more than I want to. And the thing is everytime I pass them in my car, majority are lighting up or something else.

    Eh… I kinda babbled in certain areas. 🙄

  14. geronimo says:

    Xia, one person’s flippancy is another person’s irony. Not arguing, just don’t get the outrage. And to say anyone would be influenced by him and his opinion is, I’m sorry, laughable.

    Is all that outrage making things better for homeless people? I think not. People might be better occupied getting angry with the source – the governments – instead of taking it out on some actor who made the mistake of making an apparently(?) insensitive comment.

  15. elisha says:

    I’ve known homeless kids, hitchhikers, and train jumpers. They say you have to constantly wear everything you own or keep it close to you, or it’ll get stolen. That’s why you see homeless guys wearing ten layers with thick coats in the dead of summer. You’re always having to sleep with one eye open. You also have to carry a weapon with you. If you don’t, you risk being injured or killed by someone else who does.

  16. xiaoecho says:

    geronimo….you’re nitpicking – nowhere did I say anyone is going to be influenced by an offhand remark by this dickhead – his remarks reinforce peoples existing prejudices

    he seems to have influenced you enough to comment on this thread?

  17. Bodhi says:

    Then you have the rest of the homeless people who: a) Didn’t go to college and their parents wouldn’t loan them money everytime they needed it, b) Are hooked on drugs, c) Are just plain out pathetic.

    Jenna~ I suggest you leave your little homeless-free town & head on to Atlanta a little more often. Your comments show a real ignorance as to the plight of others.

    What about the single mother who got evicted because her rental property was foreclosed upon? Is she just “plain out pathetic”?

  18. RAN says:

    Geronimo and others, don’t get me wrong, I DO recognize that the governement is at fault – just as much, if not more, than the homeless person him/herself. No one can attest to the reasons for the homelessness (see Bodhi’s comment above) but it’s real and painful for most.

    What upsets me about this is to have rational adults say it isn’t a big deal. Very few people can account for the impression left with teenagers and children who hear comments like that and actually believe it.

    The world has grown to be desensitized to violence and inhumanity through years of watching it on television and movies as if it weren’t a big deal. And now we have one of those actors saying ‘I’ve been there, it’s not so bad’.

    It’s not just THIS actor I’m annoyed with – it’s anyone who would say it’s not a big deal without having actually LIVED it. Fortunately, I’ve never lived it and I don’t want to, but I’ve seen enough to know it isn’t easy for anyone.

  19. geronimo says:

    Jenna, probably best not to make judgements about the people you see living on the streets. It could be me and it could be you. And that’s a fact. Just saying.

    “..he seems to have influenced you enough to comment on this thread?”

    On the contrary, xia, it’s the other posters here that influenced me to comment, you included! 😛

  20. Alexis says:

    It seems like he was being sarcastic and it didn’t translate to the written word. “I stayed a WHOLE WEEK on the street”.

  21. RAN says:

    The article says he stayed a weekend.

  22. Lauri says:

    What? The government is at fault for the homeless people? Get over yourself…that’s crazy. People are responsible for their own choices.

    I have a cousin who was homeless (now deceased) who CHOSE to be homeless. I don’t know why; he just did. He had options; his dad was willing to let him stay with him and his sister was also willing to take him in. Nope. He preferred his life on the streets, he said. He had no mental illness…but he made a choice about how to live his life. I can’t blame the government for that.

    I’m sorry for those who have no other options, but blaming the government is just wrong.

  23. daisy424 says:

    I agree with Lauri,.
    Take responsiblity for your own lives and actions folks. Don’t expect the government to bail you out.
    Geronimo; Most of the homeless are not Vets. They can get help through the VA and choose not to. You can lead a horse to water…….

  24. Jess Doherty says:

    I think we all agree that homelessness is sad and unfortunate. Nevertheless, James Franco is still a talented, sexy actor, and his comments shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

  25. geronimo says:

    Don’t know if that’s directed at me, Lauri, but let me clarify. When I said source as government, I was thinking specifically of war vets who end up homeless because many don’t receive the financial or psychological help they need when they return home, OR, people released from mental health institutions because of funding cuts who end up in the community and can’t cope. Just two examples of how government DOES play a part in homelessness.

    Of course homelessness has a multitude of other causes and I should have acknowledged that. And, per my point to Jenna earlier, it can happen to anyone.

  26. RAN says:

    Yes Lauri, I’m sure your cousin’s experience is relative to every other homeless person’s experience. You’re right… the people who lose their jobs and can’t afford to live due to the economy or hardships or spouse dying – yeah – they all deserve a life on the streets. They should ‘take accountability for their actions’ 🙄

    What was I thinking when I said the economy and loss of jobs had anything to do with the government? 🙄 Not to mention the war vets or the mentally incapable individuals without family. They all deserve the brutality of the streets because desensitized people believe it to be so.

  27. Christina says:

    could it be that he meant it was easy for HIM? i mean they did ask him how his personal experience was right? i could see how it would be easy for someone to be “play” homeless for a couple of days. i bet if he had said it were hard, everyone would be outraged that he’d pretend to understand the real plight of the homeless after a 2 day stint… probably can’t win either way with this…

  28. journey says:

    must . . .rein in anger! the homeless aren’t just veterans who risked their lives defending our country and came home “changed”, or elderly women who have bipolar problems and are incapable of taking care of themselves, the homeless are also the BABIES, the CHILDREN of parents who may have, or had, a job but something happened and they wind up living in their car. its horrifying the number of homeless children in this country.
    its real easy in your comfy life to shrug and say the homeless deserve it because they didn’t make “good” choices. but why not show a little love and admit that the homeless situation is a lot more complicated than a few people who WANT to live on the street. “grrrr” is right!

    edit: oops, by the time i took care of laundry and finished my rant and hit send, others had jumped into the fray and said it better than me. thanks!

  29. well says:

    james doesnt know jack about being homeless, but if i saw him in the streets, i would take him home with me….i kid.

  30. czarina says:

    Who is this arrogant and idiotic PUTZ???
    I don’t care why a person is homeless–whether it’s beyond their control or not. It is a sad and pathetic thing for a person to have no home, to have to scramble and wonder where they will sleep that night and if they will be hurt by someone if they close their eyes.
    This utter and complete MORON James Franco is an obnoxious, insensitive, selfish excuse for a human being.
    Do I think he was joking? No. Taken with his other comments, no he seriously didn’t think being “homeless” for a weekend was a big deal.
    Gee, did he stop bathing for a few weeks before he went out there? What was he wearing–his designer jeans and leather jacket? Did he grow a beard over his pretty face?
    So, in other words, this young, healthy, good looking guy didn’t find it that tough to get peope to give him money on the streets.
    That, of course, is the NORMAL experience of the homeless–all the young, healthy, good looking homeless people out there. (and there are so many of course).
    I hope this guy gets genital warts!!!!

  31. Maria de Jesus says:

    He should have said he was joking, if indeed he was. My sister has a mental illness and is in danger of being homeless. Not easy at all!!

  32. DogRunner says:

    “A whole weekend of being homeless?”

    No doubt he was able to get in several full meals and plenty of rest before he started his “weekend”. Big difference.

  33. Mairead says:

    There but for the grace of God go any of us. 🙁

    I am assuming that this was part of a longer interview to promote the film and that in that context putting on “serious actor face” and blabbering on about how he “truely understands the plight of the homeless” would have sounded rediculous.

    But either he could have phrased it better or put in a qualifier like – “joking aside, it did give me a new perspective on the problem”

  34. kate says:

    good to know this douche has something to fall back on when his career ends….maybe he should tell this to willie ames!

  35. mollination says:

    Oh wow James, a WHOLE weekend?? God you and Tyra Bank are so dedicated to your craft….

    Give me a break. The part that really makes me mad is that there are people dumb enough out there that will read this and change their mind about throwing a buck someone’s way the next time they pass a homeless person. Not everyone makes 20$ an hour you douche-bag..

  36. vdantev says:

    homeless-free town= police force with nothing better to do.

    And James Franco is a douchewad who’s trying to look like a college brat’s version of James Dean.

  37. MMayhem says:

    Hey James, how ’bout a little sign that says “Will screw for food”… I’d give you some business.


  38. cara says:

    Um, I was homeless like that. I had to choose, selling my body, thus being away from my kids, or selling my soul and begging WITH my kids, I chose the latter. Yes, I made enough (and it was usually those boarderjumpers, fellow homeless, prostitutes, ect who would give me the most help) but to sit out with a sign is mortifying, not to mention the people who would yell, curse, spit-literally on us. ( AND weeding out all the pervs ) Luckily I was fortunate enough to have a father who came out of the woodworkand and gave me a second chance. Now I own a home and no one would ever guess my past. I feel it was a Christ-like exsperiance because it showed me the true side to humanity. I also give thanks and praise for everything I have now, because aside from my kids, a safe home and personal freedom….everything else is cake.

  39. cara says:

    honestly people, try one weekened (full 72hrs), go to a strange city, with dirty clothes and no money. When I was on the street, we used to say, put a politician here for one week, because that would be all it would take for them to be humbled and then maybe we would start to get change….(and not spare change, sorry I had to make that joke.) So, a weekend would do.

  40. daisy424 says:

    Cara, sorry I misread your post.

  41. Snowblood says:

    Cara, you just won my immense respect, coming forward and sharing this with us. I was homeless for 3 months, myself, I’m far shyer and less courageous than you though to share my experience about that here. I talk about all kinds of rough stuff from my past here at CeleBitchy, but that homeless stint is a thing I just hate to talk about, to people I don’t know, because they judge like crazy, and they stereotype, they do not understand, at all. One doesn’t have to be on drugs/mentally ill/a war vet to find oneself homeless.

    I don’t even want to talk about it anymore, even behind the safe anonymity of the internet screen, I still find it too hard to discuss. So, much, MUCH respect to you, Cara. You’re a strong & awesome woman in my eyes.

  42. czarina says:

    Cara-I think you are being very generous. I honestly believe there is a big difference between spending some time “pretending” to be homeless (knowing you have an escape route and a home to go back to) and being out on the streets with no safety net, and no way to know what will happen to you in the future.
    However, I have not only never had that experience, I have also never tried such a thing for even one day, much less 72 hours.
    If I WERE to do such a thing, I certainly hope I’d be smart enough and sensitive enough not to say afterwards that it “wasn’t that tough” to be homeless, and be proud of myself for making money (rather than, as you were Cara, grateful for people’s generosity).
    I still consider James Franco a self-satisfied, obnoxious jerk.

  43. Jenna says:

    Bodhi, I get what you are saying. However, I don’t feel bad about saying it. I am quite comfortable in my nice little town. Call me ignorant if you want, you’re just a commenter like I am on this thread.

    I understand my comments were a little harsh but sometimes it really is their fault. When I see them I try not to pass judgement but sometimes it just happens.

    As far as the whole foreclosure to a single mother thing, the woman has family. She can pack up her bags and go live with them until she can get a new place… That was a little harsh too.

    Okay, some people who end up homeless don’t deserve it but they can always turn it around somehow. Doesn’t McDonalds always hire? That is a start.

  44. Kris says:

    Wait a minute. Wasn’t this when he was researching the role CBTS? He wasn’t that famous then, barely, so I doubt many recognized him. He probably had money, but not as much as he has now.

  45. czarina says:

    Jenna; very few places will hire you if you have no address. Also, (at least in Canada) if you have a job you cannot get welfare (even a part-time job if its over-I think-8 hours a week)–people who have children and need more money than that end up NOT taking low-paying part-time work because they need the money and benefits of welfare.
    And what do you do with your kids while you are working if you cannot afford daycare and have no relatives or friends who can help you?
    So, things like that can be a double-edged sword. Getting out of difficult situations if you have no family or friends to offer help and support must be really, really tough.
    Although, I’m sure, too, that there are people who have ignored or disdained opportunities out of stupidity. laziness or selfishness.

  46. Bodhi says:

    Jenna~ I really think you need to get out of your comfort zone & into the world. Things are never black & white & there is hardly ever one swift solution to a problem.

    For starters, there is no way in hell that every homeless single mom (my example) has a family to take them in. I’m not homeless & nor am I a single mom, but my family couldn’t just drop everything & take me in.

    Secondly, when most people say that they try not to pass judgement on others, they acctually try to refrain from judging others.

  47. Rougelatete says:

    Let’s just be real about it. “Welfare” is usually $92.80 PER MONTH. Try living off that if you’re disabled and can’t otherwise work (most people are homeless because of head injuries, physical handicaps, and mental health issues.) Also, just to clear it up, you CANNOT work on welfare, you can only work on SSI/SSDI/SS. SSI payments are usually somewhere around $450-$700, again, PER MONTH. Try paying rent with that and still have enough money leftover for food. SSDI payments are usually higher but generally cap out around $1000. If someone is using drugs, you can usually trace it back to some effort to self-medicate. Just like those whose don’t pull to the side of the road for an ambulance (just wait until THEY need an ambulance to arrive in time), I wish those who are judgmental about homeless persons an ironic karmic fate — or a change in heart and perspective. My, myself? I remember eating pizza out of a trash can on St. Mark’s Place. Once I got back on my feet, I gave back and helped the homeless get housing for the past 3 years. I’ve experienced both sides of THAT coin!

  48. miss_kitteh says:

    I’d like to know where you can hold out a sign and panhandle without being harassed by the cops within minutes. Seriously, where? I could sure use $40 an hour.

  49. Christina X says:

    Jenna, some of my family was homeless for a while because their house had been burned down, and literally had to live in a hotel for a couple of weeks. It was January, and that was all they could afford to live. Fortunately, their house has been repaired and they’re living at home, but that’s not what I was getting at.

    They totally hired some jerk to burn down their house THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS so they could be homeless in 10 degree weather. Yep. And just so you know, my grandfather works for a living, and so does my aunt who lives with them.

    My grandmother can’t work because she can’t walk and there’s something wrong with her kidneys, but I guess that’s her fault too, isn’t it?

    How snotty.

  50. brittney says:

    ok u guys it would be awsome to be famous and have all this money and clothes it would be awsome but at least he is trying. and he stayed out on the street for a weekend and it is hard at least he tried and earned his own money the hard way for a bit. and for some people it isnt hard to live on the streets but for most it is as long as they know what to do where to sleep it isnt that hard i used to be an orphan so my parents left me when i was 6

  51. coolbeans says:

    I think James Franco is a cool guy. If we take James’ Franco seriously, then why do we need serious people in the world. He’s an actor for God sakes, get off his nuts…if you don’t like what he says, ignore, don’t pay any attention.

  52. Flic' says:

    You are all insanely ignorant lol. Where does Franco say “Being homeless isnt so hard”? It says:

    “And Franco admits it wasn’t that tough: “I stayed a whole weekend on the street, we panhandled, we made a sign.

    “We made at least $20 in half an hour, so, if you’re ever out of work… make a sign – `Homeless, Please Help’.”

    The author wrote it. Theres nothing wrong with what Franco said. He told his story of being homeless for a weekend lol. He never said anything that put down how hard a life it is being homeless.

  53. Martha says:

    I agree, Franco is SUPER arrogant and annoying. He’s always yapping about all his projects and how diverse he is with what he does. It’s gross to me. Get over yourself buddy!!! BTW not everyone should be able to write books….make a mental note of that