Brace yourself: There’s a lot
James Franco is, without a doubt, one of the busiest entertainers working in Hollywood today, and nothing can put that into perspective better than looking back at his extraordinarily busy year.
Franco’s 2013 began at the Sundance Film Festival with the premiere of his directorial effort “Interior. Leather Bar” and is ending with a push to receive award season recognition for his turn as a rapper named Alien in “Spring Breakers,” but there was so much in between, it was an exhausting list to compile.
At the risk of making readers feel like they’ve accomplished very, very little in comparison, here’s everything the 35-year-old renaissance man did in the last 12 months (all while continuing his educational goals, mind you):
— Franco begins teaching a production course for eight aspiring directors at the University of Southern California with his business partner, Vince Jolivette.
— Franco dressed up like Justin Bieber to lip-sync the pop star’s hit single “Boyfriend” in a video with “Spring Breakers” co-star Ashley Benson. Naturally, the video goes viral.
— Franco premiered his 10th feature-length directorial effort, “Interior. Leather Bar,” co-directed by Travis Mathews, at the Sundance Film Festival. It was acquired six months later by Strand Releasing.
— “Kink,” a documentary about fetish website kink.com that was executive produced by Franco, also premiered at Sundance.
— Franco wrote a poem (and read it in a t-shirt on webcam) for Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration after being commissioned by Yahoo! News.
— Franco serves as the Grand Marshall at Nascar’s Daytona 500 (see him chatting with driver Jimmie Johnson above), and causes controversy when he singles out the only female driver in the race, Danica Patrick, by yelling, “Gentleman — and Danica — start your engines!”
— Franco held an art exhibit in Berlin called “Gay Town,” which explored “a variety of themes that are central to Franco’s artistic practice, mainly issues related to adolescence, public and private persona, stereotypes and other societal concerns such as society’s preoccupation with celebrity.”
— Franco explains why he singled out Danica Patrick at the Daytona 500 during an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” It turns out, he was just trying to “celebrate the moment.”
— Franco finally embarked on entertainment’s final frontier: Broadway. He announced his plans to star in the “Of Mice and Men” revival during an appearance on “The Colbert Report.”
— Franco returned to the big screen with a big-budget blockbuster called “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Disney’s “Wizard of Oz” inspired film, Franco’s fourth collaboration with director Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”), went on to make over $493.3 million worldwide.
— Franco joined Tinseltown icons Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable with his very own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
— Franco made a splash with critics as gangster rapper Alien in director Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers,” which went on to make over $31.7 million worldwide off of a $7 million budget.
— Franco begins filming the drama “True Story,” in which he stars as an FBI Most Wanted List murderer living under a journalist’s name, Michael Finkel, played by Jonah Hill.
— Franco reviewed “The Place Beyond the Pines” for Huffington Post. “I loved the whole film and was engaged every moment of the way,” he wrote. “But what I want to talk about is the first section, the Gosling section; I want to make love to this section.”
— Franco turned 35, and published a birthday poem on Huffington Post that he wrote for himself when he was 31.
— Franco produced a documentary about Gucci fashion designer Frida Giannini called “The Director,” which made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
— Franco received the Ally Award at the 15th annual Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (pictured above), which recognized him for his unwavering support of the LGBT community.
— Franco released a new music video he directed for his band Daddy. It’s just as weird as you’d expect.
— Franco’s adaptation of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” (pictured above), in which he also stars on top of writing and directing duties, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section.
— Franco starred in hit comedy “This Is the End” (pictured above), which earned $20.7 million during its opening weekend the box office, and went on to gross $125.3 worldwide.
— Franco wrote another movie review of sorts for VICE, this time for Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel.” He liked the movie, but revealed that the movie’s star, Henry Cavill, probably does not like him. “My hunch is that he didn’t like me very much,” Franco wrote. “I don’t know this for certain, but I know that I wouldn’t have liked myself back then because I was a difficult young actor who took himself too seriously.”
— Franco filmed “Good People” in London with co-stars Kate Hudson and Sienna Miller. The crime thriller follows a couple who discover a bunch of cash in their dead tenant’s apartment, and then find themselves targeted by a deadly adversary of the thief who stole it.
— Franco holds a book launch for “Moving Pictures / Moving Sculptures: the Films of James Franco” (pictured above) — a meditation on how James Franco films relate to other dimensions of his artistic output — at the Pace gallery in London.
— Franco debuted a 15-minute short film he directed for Gucci to announce his next collaboration with the fashion company as the face of its Made To Measure fragrance campaign.
— Franco played Hugh Hefner in “Lovelace,” a drama centered on porn star Linda Lovelace (“Deep Throat”) played by Amanda Seyfried.
— Franco got roasted on Comedy Central (pictured above) by friends like Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Bill Hader, as well as the notoriously mean-spirited comic Jeff Ross.
— “Child of God,” Franco’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 1973 novel of the same name, also made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
— Franco starred in “Third Person,” an ensemble romance written and directed by Paul Haggis, which made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Sony Pictures Classics acquired the film in November.
— Franco guest starred as Dr. Paul Leotard on two episodes of the Fox comedy “The Mindy Project” (pictured above).
— Franco released his first novel, “Actor’s Anonymous” (pictured above), which he launched at a sold-out event at the Strand Bookstore in New York City.
— Franco promotes his new book on the West Coast at a sold-out Live Talks LA event, “An Evening with James Franco,” held at Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, CA.
— Franco started filming his next comedy, “The Interview,” directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
— Franco appears in Jared Leto’s short film and music video “City of Angels,” in which he explains why he’s so damn busy all the time. “Who knows what’s going to happen after this,” Franco says. “I don’t know, so if this is the only life, than why am I not just doing everything that I want to do.”
— Franco inspired a lot of cornrow-curious white boys to put on a pair of shades and pick up a grill to dress up as his “Spring Breakers” character.
— Franco, one of the stars of “Spring Breakers,” reviewed “Spring Breakers” for VICE. “There will never be a movie or a character that is more important for this age than ‘Spring Breakers’ and its protagonist Alien,” he wrote.
— Franco’s latest directorial effort, “Sal,” hit theaters for a limited release run.
— Franco reviewed “12 Years a Slave” for VICE, praising the film’s beautiful cinematographer and Michael Fassbender’s performance — even though he wasn’t that impressed by Fassbender in “Shame,” the actor’s previous collaboration with director Steve McQueen. And he definitely didn’t buy the “minor blow job” Fassbender received in the movie.
— Franco played an intimidating crystal meth maker opposite action star Jason Statham in “Homefront.” Franco’s fourth mainstream film of the year failed to gain any traction with audiences, and critics, as it has yet to recoup its $22 million budget after several weeks in theaters.
— Franco effectively parodied Kanye West’s “Bound 2″ music video, which featured a topless Kim Kardashian, with “Bound 3″ (pictured above). Franco’s shot-for-shot recreation of the music video featured a topless Seth Rogen, who collaborated with Franco on the video during their spare time while filming “The Interview.”
— Franco directed a new spot for Gucci, per Instagram photo of a model in a bikini accompanied by the caption: “New Gucci spot I directed yesterday – NATaLIA!”
— Franco was named Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for his performance as Alien (pictured above) in “Spring Breakers.”
— Franco joined the cast of “Fixer,” an indie drama about an Afghan journalist exiled from his war-torn country to a small bohemian community in Northern California.