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Known for heroic or macho roles in movies like 'Annapolis,' 'James Dean,' 'Flyboys' and the 'Spider-Man' trilogy, plus his comedic stoner turn in 'Pineapple Express,' James Franco is taking on a slightly different character for his next film.

According to Variety, in director Danny Boyle's forthcoming '127 Hours' the 31-year-old actor will portray real-life mountaineer Aron Ralston, whose lower right forearm became trapped under an 800-pound boulder during a climb in Utah in 2003. Known for heroic or macho roles in movies like 'Annapolis,' 'James Dean,' 'Flyboys' and the 'Spider-Man' trilogy, plus his comedic stoner turn in 'Pineapple Express,' James Franco is taking on a slightly different character for his next film.

According to Variety, in director Danny Boyle's forthcoming '127 Hours' the 31-year-old actor will portray real-life mountaineer Aron Ralston, whose lower right forearm became trapped under an 800-pound boulder during a climb in Utah in 2003.

After spending five days pinned there, the dehydrated and delirious Ralston amputated the pinned part of his limb (including his hand) with a dull knife, after which he rappelled down a 65-foot sheer wall and hiked until receiving help from a nearby family. His harrowing survival story made him an international sensation.

Franco has been expanding his repertoire recently by joining the cast of the famous soap opera 'General Hospital' and portraying Harvey Milk's lover in 'Milk' -- and '127 Hours' will continue stretching the actor's skills. Given the gritty subject matter and the amount of time he'll be spending alone on screen, Franco will truly get to prove whether he can carry a film.

To be distributed by Fox Searchlight and Pathe, '127 Hours' will be Boyle's first film since 2008's 'Slumdog Millionaire,' which won eight Oscars. 'Slumdog' screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and producer Christian Colson will rejoin Boyle for '127 Hours,' which begins filming in Utah in March with a projected release for late 2010.