James Edward Franco is an American actor, filmmaker, and academic. For his role in 127 Hours, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Franco is known for his roles in live-action films, such as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Milk, Pineapple Express, Eat, Pray, Love, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Spring Breakers, Oz the Great and Powerful, This Is the End, and The Disaster Artist. Take a look below for 38 more awesome and interesting facts about James Franco.
1. Franco was born in Palo Alto, California, on April 19, 1978.
2. His mother, Betsy Lou, is a writer and occasional actress, and his father, Douglas Eugene “Doug” Franco, ran a Silicon Valley business.
3. His father was of Portuguese (from Madeira) and Swedish ancestry, while his mother is Jewish, from a family of Russian-Jewish descent.
4. His maternal grandfather, Daniel, changed his surname from “Verovitz” to “Verne” some time after 1940.
5. His paternal grandmother, Marjorie, is a published author of young adult books.
6. His maternal grandmother, Mitzie, owned the prominent Verne Art Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio, and was an active member in the National Council of Jewish Women.
7. Franco’s family upbringing was “academic, liberal, and largely secular”.
8. He grew up in California with his two brothers, actors Tom and Dave.
9. A “math whiz”, Franco interned at Lockheed Martin.
10. He was often encouraged by his father to get good grades and did well on his SATs.
11. He graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1996, where he acted in plays. This led to him attending CSSSA in 1998 for theater studies.
12. In his high school years, Franco was arrested for underage drinking, graffiti, and being a part of a group that stole designer fragrances from department stores and sold them to classmates.
13. These arrests led to Franco briefly becoming a ward of the state. Facing the possibility of juvenile hall, he was given a second chance by the judge.
14. He recalled of his troubles with the law, “It was teen angst. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was shy. I changed my ways just in time to get good grades.”
15. Although the idea of becoming a marine zoologist interested him, Franco had always secretly wanted to become an actor but feared being rejected.
16. He enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as an English major, but dropped out after his first year (against his parents’ wishes) to pursue a career as an actor, since he would have had to wait two years to audition for their acting program.
17. He instead chose to take acting lessons with Robert Carnegie at the Playhouse West.
18. Around this time, he took up a late-night job at McDonald’s to support himself because his parents refused to do so.
19. He was a vegetarian for the year prior to working there.
20. While working at the establishment, he would practice accents on customers, an experience he remembered nostalgically in a 2015 Washington Post editorial titled “McDonald’s was there for me when no one else was”.
21. Franco has described himself as Jewish; regarding his secular upbringing, he told The Guardian that he feels as if he has “missed out on the Jewish experience”, but has been told not to worry about that by his Jewish friends and said in the same interview that he likes “the idea of religion as a source of community”.
22. When asked if he was a “believer”, he responded, “In God? I don’t know. Yes. To a certain extent. It’s a complicated question.”
23. In 2015, he had an official Bar Mitzvah ceremony, presided over by a rabbi.
24. Due to his support for the LGBT community, and his portrayal of gay characters in his projects, Franco’s sexuality has been a subject of discussion in media sources, relentlessly questioning if he himself is gay. In response to questions regarding his sexuality, he insists he finds plenty more dimensions to the characters than their bedroom proclivities. “Or, you know what,” he quipped, “maybe I’m just gay.”
25. After meeting on the set of Whatever It Takes in 1999, Franco dated co-star Marla Sokoloff for five years.
26. He was later in a relationship with actress Ahna O’Reilly until 2011.
27. He confirmed their separation in an interview for Playboy magazine’s August 2011 issue, saying that his interest in education got between them.
28. At the 2018 Golden Globes, Franco wore a Time’s Up pin in solidarity with the #MeToo movement, to protest harassment against women.
29. In Busy Philipps’ 2018 memoir, she puts forth an account in which Franco screamed at her before violently shoving her to the ground while on the set of Freaks and Geeks.
30. In March 2013, Franco was featured in half-page print advertisements for his alma mater UCLA which celebrated the university’s famous alumnus as a “prolific academic” and carried the tagline: “Some A-Listers Actually Get A’s”.
31. On March 31, 2011, the actor took part in “An Evening with James Franco”, a Washington D.C. dinner benefit for 826DC, a non-profit foundation created to help neighborhood students reach their goals, as well as provide after-school literature programs and workshops that encourage them to improve their writing skills.
32. Franco became involved with Dave Eggers’ 826 National after Eggers asked him to do a conceptual idea for the program, and he directed a documentary for them and has since been a supporter of them. At the event, he spoke about how he thought schools needed to be more original with their literature programs.
33. In April 2011, Franco autographed a T-shirt that would be auctioned off through the Yoshiki Foundation, with the proceeds being donated for Japanese tsunami relief.
34. In April 2013, Franco received the Ally Award at the 15th annual Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. The award was presented to him in recognition of his unwavering support of the LGBT community.
35. In April 2014, Franco presented at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet Competition with Leighton Meester and Chris O’Dowd, after raising donations at his Broadway show Of Mice and Men.
36. In June 2014, Franco performed in the BC/EFA benefit Broadway Bares.
37. Viewed as a sex symbol, Franco was named the Sexiest Man Living in 2009 by Salon.com.
38. In April 2012, Shalom Life ranked Franco and his brother, Dave, together as number two on its list of 50 talented and attractive Jewish men.