James Franco

James Franco
Kevin Winter / Getty Images


James Franco
Film: South side of the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born April 19, 1978 in Palo Alto, CA

There’s very little James Franco hasn’t done.

Primarily known as an actor — his big break was landing a starring role in the 1999 television series "Freaks and Geeks" — Franco also has been a short-story author and poet, painter, academic and writer-director. Known to frequently carry a book of classic literature in his pocket, Franco is one of Hollywood’s best-educated personalities, with three graduate degrees to his name.

Although "Freaks and Geeks" lasted but one season, the cult hit propelled Franco into a number of prominent acting jobs. He captured the title role in the 2001 television movie "James Dean" and landed a starring part in 2002’s "Spider-Man," playing Harry Osborn after Franco lost the role of Peter Parker to Tobey Maguire.

Though Franco occasionally appears in mass-appeal studio productions such as 2008’s "Pineapple Express," 2010’s "Date Night" and 2013’s "Oz the Great and Powerful," he is more frequently associated with independent works.

His most acclaimed movie performance was playing Aron Ralston, the hiker who cut off his own hand and lower arm to escape a backcountry accident, in 2010’s "127 Hours," and he also was lauded for his supporting actor role as Sean Penn’s love interest in 2008’s "Milk," a look at the life of San Francisco activist and politician Harvey Milk. At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Franco co-directed and starred in the experimental feature "Interior. Leather Bar." In early 2013, he announced that he would make his Broadway debut in "Of Mice and Men."

Franco, who earned mostly scathing reviews for hosting 2011’s Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway, has become a character in his own show business life. In recent years he’s done guest stints on the soap opera “General Hospital” as an artist called Franco, and in the 2013 summer release "This Is the End" he plays himself in an end-of-the-world comedy that unfolds in the actor’s home, which is decorated with Franco’s own paintings.

Franco says he is frequently ribbed for his interest in higher education, which includes his teaching. "Generally, people in the movie field are supportive," he said. "But they are like, 'Why would you want to do this? You've got a career.'"

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Points of interest

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    2010 Best Actor 127 Hours Nomination

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