James Franco would fake an accent to get dates while working at McDonald’s

Eternally method actor James Franco recently spoke with W Magazine in advance of the premiere of his latest project for HBO, The Deuce. In the series, James plays twin brothers Frankie and Vinnie Martino, trying to achieve success in the seedy world of porn in 1970s era Times Square. The show was created by David Simon, who was responsible for The Wire, which James calls “the greatest TV show ever made.” James wears a lot of hats for this series, not only acting in a dual role, but also directing (not his first time) and serving as the show’s executive producer.

Before landing his first major role on Freaks and Geeks, James endured the seemingly mandatory pre-stardom stint in the food service industry, working for McDonald’s for a few months. He joked that although he was able to get a couple of dates when he was on drive-thru window duty, they never seemed to end well.

He recalled, “I was in acting class, and I would practice different accents in the drive-thru, like really bad accents. But people believed me. So I’d be like in terrible Italian-American accent ‘Hey, welcome to McDonald’s. May I help you?’ You know, like, that bad.” If you watch the clip, the accent is definitely more Borat than Luigi. He continued:

And I’d always know that they were interested ’cause they’d come back around. So, you know, a young lady would be like, “Oh, I forgot the, uh, strawberry milkshake.”She’d come back and she’d be like, “Well, I’m trying to learn Italian. Maybe you could give me some Italian lessons.” I’d go, “Yeah, yeah, sure.” But then there were a couple, I guess, with my Irish accent or, like, my Brooklyn accent—those I could go out on dates with. You know, we went to see Titanic, and I had to keep it up. You know, so like, “Whoa, Leonardo. Wow, he was amazing. Yo, oh.”

Then I always had to break it to ‘em, ’cause they’d call me, and it was before cell phones. So I’d pick up the phone, I didn’t know who it was. And I’d be like, “Hello?” And they’d be like, “James, is that you? What happened to your accent?” It was always the worst, as if I was this huge imposter. I just saw this play, Dear Evan Hansen. It was sort of like that. Like, I had to come clean: “Hey, I’m not from Brooklyn. I’m from Palo Alto.” And they just look at me like I’m a complete stranger. And it usually ended right there.

[From W Magazine/Screen Tests]

James goes on to credit his McDonald’s “training” to help him land the role of the Brooklyn-based characters on The Deuce, so there’s that. When the interviewer asked James why he made things complicated by taking on so much responsibility, James replied, “I’m insane. I’m insane. That’s why; that’s what happened. Who would want to not only direct themselves, but direct themselves in two roles? Like, that’s insane. But it did go well.” I hope it did, because the show looks pretty damn good. Check out some of the highlights (and James’ truly horrible accents) in the clip below.

James also joined actors including Milo Ventimiglia, Keri Russell and Alexander Skarsgård for a dramatic rendition of the Spice Girls song “Wannabe” as part of the magazine’s Lyrical Improv series. When asked who his favorite Spice Girl was, James replied, “The one that pops into my head is Baby Spice, but I don’t know why.” Oh, come on, James, everybody knows that Ginger Spice was the best. The quick video is cute, but I have to give the MVP award, in a tie, to Nicole Kidman and Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown. These two gals really sell it.

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Photos: Getty Images, WENN.com

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25 Responses to “James Franco would fake an accent to get dates while working at McDonald’s”

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  1. kelile4 says:

    i really like him and i can never pin point exactly why.

    • QueenB says:

      maybe the way he plays with a gay persona as “art” or trying to pick up underage girls? i dont know what you are into.

    • sash says:

      I’m the opposite. I really don’t like him and can never pinpoint why, although QueenB has given me a couple of more legit, less abstract reasons now.

  2. QueenB says:

    “as if I was this huge imposter”


  3. Rapunzel says:

    Several years ago, I saw him in Of Mice and Men on Broadway. Fantastic performance. Changed my previous opinions about him.

  4. Giulia says:

    Wow, that video interview is the first time I’ve ever found him likable.

  5. HadleyB says:

    There is something skeevy and smarmy about him I can’t pin point … I just dislike him.

  6. slowsnow says:

    Is there an unwritten rule whereby when you mention the Spice Girls you have to use the word “obsessed”?
    (Asking from a place of bewilderment and total incomprehension.)

  7. Parigo says:

    Yea, he’s a douche but he’s dirty hot.

    • lannisterforever says:

      This. Also, The Deuce is supposed to be amazing according to advance buzz – wouldn’t expect anything less from the creator of The Wire!

    • Adele Dazeem says:

      Agreed. I want to dislike him but there’s something about him I find attractive. I think it might be the way his face (eyes esp) wrinkles up when he smiles.

  8. Ali B. says:

    James was hot 10 years ago. He hit a brick wall in the appeal dept. The other day I was in the drive-thru and this guy who looked movie star, fashion campaign ready Good, handed me my coffee. I was taken aback because he was that “perfect” looking and you rarely see people like that anywhere, much less McDonalds. I wonder if he was in college to become an engineer, a teacher, an actor…might need another coffee today.

    • detritus says:

      This is actually interesting.
      Prime example of how we think attractive people are more intelligent, successful, motivated.
      It’s a hard habit to break, and you may need more coffee to help with It.

      • Ali B. says:

        It’s called a joke, Jesus. I don’t think attractive people are more intelligent because society actually socialized me to believe that they tend to be less interesting and less intelligent since they rely on their looks, but thanks for the homegrown psychoanalysis! The academics were only a playful fantasy to complete his looks, but most likely he’s like everyone else…going along to get along.

      • detritus says:

        Relax, you’re reading personal criticism here when there isn’t any. everyone’s brain does this, it’s not a psychoanalysis (which would be of YOU, and I don’t know you enough to offer even an armchair one). Plus I was teasing too, hence the coffee comment.

        This is a really common bias that everyone has unless they actively fight against it, myself included. And this post had a few people upthread wondering why they ‘like’ someone, and that cognitive bias is usually why.

  9. magnoliarose says:

    He used to irritate me but he doesn’t anymore. I just think he is eccentric and probably should have been a visual artist and not an actor. You can be as kooky as you want to be when you are an artist but actors have to appeal to a wider audience in order to be successful.

    • sophia says:

      This is where I am on Franco too. I think at one point it just sank in for me that he is just a super neurotic/eccentric bisexual artist who is very uncomfortable in his own skin and probably torments himself constantly. I hope he finds peace someday.

  10. Sarah says:

    He’s douchey, but I do love me an accent. I’ve dated a few guys that weren’t conventionally attractive, but they had accents so it was all good.

  11. Turtle says:

    I go back and forth with Franco. I appreciate how hard he works and his experimental tendencies and the fact that he’s committed to exploring gay male stories onscreen. And yet it does reek of gay tourism and feels like the most complicated coming-out process ever. I don’t know anymore.

    About accents, I knew a perfectly normal-looking dude in college who was Scottish. No guy wanted to hang out with him because as soon as he started talking, no woman would look at them anymore. He had his pick. We would joke that his accent was some kind of superpower that mesmerized women. It was astonishing to watch in action.

    Luckily, he was a nice guy. I knew this other guy when I was younger who didn’t have an accent, but a raspy Nicholson-esque voice. He beat women away with a stick and did not have to lift a finger to find someone new. It was uncanny. Unfortunately, he was a jerk who used his superpowers to his advantage. When I knew him, he was actually bored with how easy it was and would amuse himself by stealing guys’ girlfriends or wives. Lovely fella, that one.

  12. Pumpkin Pie says:

    I need some cheer me up movie, I’ll be watching ‘The Interview’ this weekend. For the fourth time.