Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit that actor James Franco has gotten involved with ... well, pretty much everything. As Joshua Mohr wrote in a New York Times article in 2010, Franco’s “ambition over the past few years has manifested almost as performance art.”
This past weekend, the movie "Spring Breakers," starring Franco and Disney stars like Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, made its debut in theaters nationwide. The movie, along with the Disney film "Oz the Great and Powerful," which was released earlier this month, has thrust Franco back into the limelight again, as Hollywood’s Renaissance man. Check out this rendition of what might be on Franco’s bucket list if he created one – and how much he's already completed.
– Get a degree
For Franco, this actually means get multiple degrees from multiple universities all at the same time, from Yale University to Columbia University. In 2012, a former professor of his alleged that he was fired from New York University because he gave the actor a D grade, according to Time magazine. In 2009, Franco was caught on camera sleeping in a Columbia class. His response? According to Gawker, he said, “It was this extra thing, it was 10 at night, it wasn’t a class.”
– Use degree(s) to teach college-level courses
Perhaps Franco really believes in the saying “knowledge is power” because he decided to not only obtain these degrees but also use the degrees to teach. A University of California, Los Angeles, student who recently took Franco’s screenplay/creative writing workshop told LA Weekly that Franco “definitely cares a lot about teaching and it’s not just something he’s just doing.” The student also said Franco holds office hours and “gives five or 10 minutes of feedback every week” to each student.
– Guest-star in a soap opera
On “General Hospital,” Franco plays a character named Franco, an artist who also happens to be a serial killer. In 2010, the actor told “Good Morning America” he decided to play in the soap opera because “it’s a different form of entertainment that I have ever worked in.”
– Write a book
“Many of the stories end in nihilistic violences and gratuitous gore, which, let’s admit, can be entertaining... yet many of these tales have no emotional payoffs,” wrote Mohr in his New York Times review of Franco’s book “Palo Alto” in 2010.
– Stay awake as long as possible
“I don’t get much sleep,” Franco told “Good Morning America” in 2010. “I am very busy.” This is obvious because it seems as if no human being with a normal sleep cycle could cram all the activities Franco does into his or her schedule.
– Get nominated for an Oscar
Franco got the nod from the Academy after his portrayal of outdoorsman Aron Ralston in Danny Boyle’s film "127 Hours," in 2010. The film, based on a true story, follows Aron, a solo hiker, after he falls into a ravine in Utah and is trapped for five days, out of human view and with limited supplies. USA Today’s review called Franco “thoroughly captivating.”
– Host the Oscars
Franco co-hosted the 2011 ceremony with Anne Hathaway, but many critics responded negatively to the ceremony. The Hollywood Reporter wrote in its review that Franco “seemed distant, uninterested and content to keep his Cheshire-cat-meets-smug smile on display throughout.”
– Star in a Disney movie
In "Oz the Great and Powerful," Franco plays the wizard who falls into the land of Oz and must help save it from destruction. Franco received mixed reviews – most, like The Boston Globe, called him out for a poor performance, with the Globe writing that Franco was “too callow, too feckless, too much the dude for this role.” However, some like IndieWire argued, “Franco makes it his own, and again proves his can be an underestimated leading man.” Whether his portrayal of the great wizard was good or bad, it is still an interesting move for Franco to go Disney, especially considering the film was released around the same time as the racy, polar-opposite "Spring Breakers."
– Star in a movie with Disney stars
In "Spring Breakers," directed by Harmony Korine, Franco is almost unrecognizable in his role as Alien, a rapper/gangster who sports beaded cornrows and tattoos. He plays the not-so-great influence on already-rebellious college students (played by Hudgens, Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine) who venture to Florida for their spring break.
The 34-year-old has already done so much that you have to wonder, what could possibly be next?
Saba Hamedy is a Monitor contributor.