James Franco may literally be the hardest working man in show business. Between the movies and the books and the academic pursuits and the art shows and the ... yada yada yada. Suffice it to say that, whether you love him or not -- and we do -- the very busy actor is an interesting guy.
In honor of his new flick, '127 Hours' -- which is already stirring Oscar buzz in advance of its November 5 release -- we present 127 interesting things about James Franco.
1. James Edward Franco was born on April 19, 1978, in Palo Alto, California.
2. He shares the same birthday as Dudley Moore, Kate Hudson, Hayden Christensen, Tim Curry, Jayne Mansfield and Jesse James.
3. He has two younger brothers, Tom and Dave.
4. His parents met as students at Stanford.
5. His dad graduated from Harvard Business School.
6. His grandmother, artist Mitzi Levine Verne, runs the Verne Art Gallery in Cleveland.
7. Franco's mother says that when he was four years old, she had to explain death to him after a family friend passed away. He began crying and said, "But I don't want to die! I have so much to do!"
8. He had buck teeth and wore braces as a child.
9. As a teen, he was known as Ted, short for his middle name. His family also called him Ted.
10. In high school, he was arrested for underage drinking.
11. And for graffiti.
12. And for being part of a group that stole designer fragrances from department stores and sold them to classmates.
13. He graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1996. Among the school's other famous alumni: Joan Baez, 'Perry Mason' creator Erle Stanley Gardner, 'The Lion King' director Rob Minkoff, and Grace Slick.
14. His classmates voted him the person with the best smile.
15. Franco: "In junior high and high school, sure, girls told me I was cute or whatever, but I was so shy I could never really make anything happen or cash in."
16. Franco was one of People magazine's 50 Hottest Bachelors in 2004.
17. After high school, Franco attended UCLA for one year, before dropping out to pursue an acting career.
18. After dropping out of UCLA to pursue acting, he worked at McDonald's -- in the drive-thru.
19. He was a vegetarian -- until he started working at McDonald's.
20. Before landing his breakout role in 'Freaks and Geeks,' his resume had mostly consisted of a Pizza Hut commercial and a minor role as high-schooler Jason in the Drew Barrymore romantic comedy 'Never Been Kissed.'
21. Frequent Franco collaborator Judd Apatow, describing his first impression of the actor when he auditioned for the short-lived cult TV series 'Freaks and Geeks' in 1999: "What I remember about meeting James was that he had this really big mouth, and he was very skinny and very greasy ... After we hired him, we kept hearing from women in the office that he was so dreamy. We didn't know what the hell they were talking about."
22. Franco was not a smoker until he played James Dean in TNT's 2001 made-for-TV biopic. That particular bit of Method acting turned him into a two-packs-a-day smoker.
23. To prepare for 'James Dean,' he also cut himself off from friends and family for three months (including his then-girlfriend, actress Marla Sokoloff) to try to experience Dean's loneliness. Sokoloff told TV Guide at the time, "You can't help but be insulted that he doesn't want to see you or talk to you. After the initial shock and being devastated, I supported his decision as much as I could."
24. He says he's less intense on movie sets these days. "I used to approach acting with a very antagonistic (attitude)," he told The Advocate. "I was very hard to get along with, and it made working in film very unpleasant. It also hurt my performances. Now I think about acting differently. I feel a little detached from acting, actually. I still work really hard, but for my own sanity -- and everyone else's -- I've had to surrender the results."
25. He won a Golden Globe for the performance.
26. He gave the award statuette to his mom.
27. After seeing Franco's turn as James Dean, Robert De Niro personally chose him to play his drug-addicted son in the 2002 movie 'City by the Sea'.
28. To play a homeless drug addict in the film, he actually lived on the street for a while.
29. He sold his gorgeous, multi-million-dollar Sunset Strip home in Los Angels earlier this year, for $3.3 million.
30. To research his role as a New Orleans prostitute in the 2002 Nicolas Cage-directed film 'Sonny,' Franco tried to talk to some real hookers on Santa Monica Boulevard. But they insisted on being able to touch his penis to make sure he wasn't an undercover cop.
31. He then tagged along with a real-life New Orleans male stripper/hooker as the man went on an, um, business call.
32. He first screen-tested for the role of Peter Parker in 'Spider-Man.' Instead, Sam Raimi cast him as best friend (and future nemesis) Harry Osborn.
33. Franco's former writing partner, Merriwether Williams, was a writer for 'SpongeBob SquarePants.'
34. Together, they wrote the 2005 movie called 'The Ape,' directed by and starring Franco. It's about a writer who lives with a talking ape.
35. He co-wrote (again with Williams), directed and starred in the 2007 movie 'Good Time Max,' about two very different brothers. In one scene, the troubled character played by Franco defecates on his sibling's carpet.
36. Of the role he said (no pun intended, we assume) : "It was really just a process of elimination. I was better suited for this role than the responsible surgeon."
37. Franco's real-life brother Dave is also an actor, and starred on the final season of 'Scrubs.'
38. He earned a pilot's license while making the movie 'Flyboys.'
39. He did eight months of boxing training for 'Annapolis.'
40. He trained in sword fighting and horseback riding for 'Tristan & Isolde.'
41. Of those three big budget 2006 flops, he quipped , "I thought, 'Yeah! I got these three movies!' And then I saw them all."
42. In 2006, at age 28, he returned to UCLA. He graduated with a 3.5 GPA and a degree in English just two years later.
43. He was invited to be the UCLA commencement address speaker in June 2009, but had to cancel a week before the ceremony because of a scheduling conflict. The resulting media buzz led him to create a video spoofing the situation for FunnyorDie.com.
44. Post-UCLA, he relocated to New York City, and enrolled in New York University's graduate film school.
45. And Columbia's grad program for fiction writing.
46. And Brooklyn College's fiction writing graduate program.
47. While also enrolling in a low-residency poetry program at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.
48. And, beginning this fall, pursuing a Ph.D. in English at Yale.
49. And simultaneously enrolling at the Rhode Island School of Design.
50. Writers Mona Simpson, Gary Shteyngart and Michael Cunningham have been among his university professors.
51. He wants to teach creative writing classes someday.
52. Franco also wants to write a children's book.
53. His mother is the author of children's books like 'Mathematickles,' 'Messing Around on the Monkey Bars' and 'A Curious Collection of Cats.'
54. Franco is already a published author, however. Scribner just released his first collection of short stories, 'Palo Alto: Stories.'
55. A math whiz when he was younger, Franco once earned an internship at Lockheed Martin.
56. One of the short stories in his book is titled 'Lockheed.'
57. He says he's not letting his mom read 'Palo Alto' because some of the stories are inspired by his teenage exploits.
58. Franco doesn't like to sleep; he considers it a waste of time. Instead, he does homework for endless hours, and says he keeps his computer in a protective case because he often falls asleep from exhaustion while he's working and the laptop falls to the floor.
59. Someone snapped an infamous photo of him falling asleep during a lecture at Columbia. Now he says he's paranoid about dozing off in public, like on the subway or an Amtrak train, because he worries that someone will snap another photo of him snoozing.
60. Of bloggers who have suggested that his educational and writing opportunities came only because he's a celebrity, Franco responds: "I applied to 15 creative writing Ph.D. programs. I got into 14. Some of them only accepted one fiction writer. I know there's this idea that I'm getting a lot of opportunities because I'm a celebrity, and there certainly is truth to that, but it's not like I'm coasting. I'm working all the time. Short of writing under an alias, I'm doing everything I can to treat this as seriously as I can."
61. About academics, Franco also says, "School offered a way to focus on something that had a new criteria for success, and its own rewards. It's the reward of knowledge and learning things that I'm interested in. What it does is release me from pressure that I put on myself, where everything has to be perfect."
62. He says he doesn't smoke pot. Anymore.
63. To appear stoned in 2008's 'Pineapple Express,' he says he just rubbed his eyes and spoke slowly.
64. In a series of videos at FunnyorDie.com, Franco gives his brother Dave acting lessons. In 'Acting With James Franco Episode 1,' he tries to get Dave to remember their dead cat Tobey as a way to summon up emotions. Dave, however, isn't as emotional about the long-deceased pet as James is.
65. In a rebuttal video at FunnyorDie.com, the Franco brothers' mom Betsy tells her side of the story about having to put Tobey the cat to sleep. Betsy Franco said she enjoyed her showbiz moment so much that she took some acting classes to help her connect with her sons, and then was asked to fly to Los Angeles by chick flick director Nancy Meyers to audition for potential film roles.
66. He also starred in a viral video clip in which he and Mila Kunis spoof Justin Bobby and Audrina from 'The Hills.'
67. He has hosted 'SNL' twice: In 2008, with musical guest Kings of Leon, and in 2009, with musical guest Muse.
68. 'Saturday Night Live' star Bill Hader, a friend of Franco's, was a production assistant on the TNT production of 'James Dean.' His main job on the shoot: Making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Franco, who, according to Hader, ate PB&J, drank Red Bulls and never broke character on the set.
69. When Franco hosted 'SNL,' he played James Dean in one of Hader's trademark skits, the 'Vincent Price Christmas Special.'
70. He also guest-starred on '30 Rock' last season as James Franco, though it was a version of himself who was in love with a Japanese body pillow he named Kumiko-ton.
71. All of these comedic turns made him Harvard's Hasty Pudding Man of the Year in 2009.
72. His "prizes" from the Harvard crew: a pineapple bra and bag of fake pot, in honor of his scene-stealing role as a clueless pot dealer in 'Pineapple Express.'
73. He also was granted a rare behind-the-scenes access to document the week-long process of putting together an episode of 'Saturday Night Live.' Beastie Boy Adam Yauch's Oscilloscope Laboratories will release the result as the 93-minute 'Saturday Night' documentary.
74. Before starring as Scott Smith, the lover of Sean Penn's Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant's 'Milk,' Franco already counted Penn among his friends. Penn had called him to congratulate him on his performance in 'James Dean' back in 2001.
75. What was he thinking when he was kissing Sean Penn while filming 'Milk'? "Well, here I am, kissing Spiccoli," he said during an interview on NPR's 'Fresh Air.'
76. In an interview with NPR, Franco said he has an addictive personality. "If there's something I like, it's hard for me to not engage with it fully."
77. The suprising role earned him a 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor.
78. In case you were wondering, no, he isn't, he told Advocate magazine.
79. In fact, Franco has been dating actress Ahna O'Reilly ('Forgetting Sarah Marshall') since 2006.
80. A 2007 gossip item linked Franco to Lindsay Lohan, suggesting that she freaked out after he rebuffed her romantic advances, including refusing to accept an expensive watch she tried to give to him.
81. The two co-starred in a fake movie trailer that was part of the 2006 Cameron Diaz/Kate Winslet/Jude Law/Jack Black romantic comedy 'The Holiday.'
82. Another 2007 romance rumor linked him to 'Camille' co-star Sienna Miller.
83. All involved denied a Miller/Franco romance, and he said they didn't even kiss much during their movie make-out because she had a very painful toothache.
84. His girlfriend threw a major bash for his 30th birthday in 2008. "It was a 'This Is Your Life, James' party," he told BlackBook magazine. "I walked in thinking we were about to have dinner, and the bar was filled with UCLA professors, everyone from my hometown, all my high school friends, everyone I'd done movies with, Tobey (Maguire), the cast of 'Milk.'"
85. He started painting in high school.
86. His first solo art show, hosted at the Clocktower Gallery in NYC, was called 'The Dangerous Book Four Boys,' inspired by the book 'The Dangerous Book for Boys,' and featured pages of the book on the walls of the gallery, with Franco's scribblings on them.
87. One of the rooms in the art show also featured a junk-strewn floor with T-shirts, tapes and lunchboxes that were among Franco's personal possessions during his teen years.
88. He had a poster of Justine Bateman in 'Satisfaction' on his bedroom wall when he was a teen.
89. A video he showed as part of his 'Dangerous Book Four Boys' art show featured him walking around the Louvre in Paris with a giant fake penis on his nose. When he showed his student film to a group of his NYU professors, he said one of them sat through it muttering the whole time, "What an a**hole, what an a**hole."
90. Sharon Stone has purchased some of his paintings.
91. So has Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge.
92. The first piece of art he bought was an Andy Warhol sketch of a young man's face.
93. For an interview for the cover of Esquire magazine's September 2010 issue, Franco showed up with a pair of Polaroid cameras and 20 boxes of film, and suggested he and interviewer Tom Chiarella take pics of each other.
94. During a Q&A session at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October, Franco was asked by documentary filmmaker Ondi Timoner if he would be interested in portraying photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in an upcoming biopic. His response: "I'm your man."
95. He considers his recurring role on 'General Hospital' to be performance art.
96. For his role as 'GH's' Franco, he sometimes had to learn 100 pages of script per day. The length of the average two-hour movie script, in total: 120 pages.
97. The role on 'GH' was his idea; he approached them about being on the show, or rather his manager, who also represents 'GH' star Steve Burton, approached show producers on his behalf.
99. OK! Magazine did an entire step-by-step article, with Franco's 'Howl' co-star Aaron Tveit, on how to prepare to kiss James Franco.
100. To fully achieve looking like a young Allen Ginsberg in 'Howl,' Franco needed to make his ears stick out a bit more than they do, so, instead of using prosthetics, the makeup department put a Play-Dough-ish substance behind his ears to make them jut out.
101. Franco, who played Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in the 2010 biopic 'Howl,' says his favorite word in the titular Ginsberg poem is "holy."
102. Nikki Finke reported at Deadline that, during a pre-release screening of '127 Hours,' in which Franco plays real-life hiker Aron Ralston, who had to amputate his own arm after getting trapped under a boulder, a couple of audience members fainted because of the subject matter and 911 had to be called.
103. For much of the filming of '127 Hours,' Franco was enclosed in a small set where he couldn't see, and could only hear, half the crew. He would remain in place during camera changes, keeping his school books stashed under the boulder so he could read between shots.
104. He got a D in an acting class at NYU, largely because he missed a lot of classes while filming '127 Hours.'
105. Franco on whether or not he read the book before starring in the mainstream chick flick 'Eat, Pray, Love' opposite Julia Roberts: "You know, in 'Eat, Pray, Love,' my character mostly appears in the first 20 pages of the book. And I can definitely say I read the first 20 pages."
106. His production company is Rabbit Bandini Productions, which he runs with friend and producer Vince Jolivette.
107. James and Dave are collaborating on adapting one of their favorite books, Charles Bukowski's 'Ham on Rye,' for the big screen.
108. Franco wrote an essay on his six favorite books -- which includes 'Ham on Rye' -- for The Daily Beast.
109. Franco optioned the movie rights to Stephen Elliot's true crime/memoir book 'The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder' and wants to produce, direct and star in the film adaptation.
110. He also optioned the movie rights for D.J. Waldie's book 'Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir.'
111. He's also writing a biopic about poet Hart Crane.
113. He'll star in the 2011 'Planet of the Apes' prequel 'Rise of the Apes.'
114. In the in-production big-screen comedy 'Ricky Stanicky,' Franco plays an actor who's hired to play a man named Ricky Stanicky, who's the fake guy a group of friends has been using as a fall guy whenever they've gotten into trouble since they were teenagers.
115. He's rumored to also be co-starring with Benicio Del Toro and Michael Shannon in 'The Iceman,' about real-life mob contract killer Richard Kuklinski.
116. He's also rumored to be starring in Ridley Scott's 'Alien' prequel.
117. One of his favorite New York restaurants is Smith & Mills, for the food and its Art Deco bathroom.
118. His favorite Los Angeles eateries: Figaro Cafe, Madeo's and Joan's on Third.
119. But so packed is his schedule that his assistant says she sometimes has to literally put food in his hands to make sure he eats.
120. Your Daily James Franco Fix is a Tumblr account that takes its name seriously and literally: It posts new pics of the actor every day.
121. There's also a Tumblr account dedicated to the Franco brothers James and Dave.
122. Franco dressed in drag for the cover of Candy magazine's Fall-Winter 2010-2011 issue.
123. You can dress him yourself at Stardoll.com.
124. He wears American Apparel underwear. In several colors.
125. He is also the face of Gucci in the fragrance company's print ads.
126. In 2009, Salon.com named Franco the "Sexiest Man Living."