James Franco on Making a Scene With Hilarious Movie and TV Mash-Ups
The recitation of James Franco's current projects begins, at some point, to feel like the "12 Days of Christmas" song. The list includes: several film classes (teaching), two TV shows (11/22/63 on Hulu, David Simon's The Deuce on HBO), and an AOL web series, Making a Scene with James Franco. For Making a Scene, Franco and a team of writers randomly choose a genre (i.e. "mash-up," "Western") and a movie or TV series (i.e. Twilight, Gossip Girl), and then create a vignette for said movie/series in the vein of the chosen genre...which is how you get something like the Season 2 premiere, a mash-up of Sex & the City and Breaking Bad called, "Breaking Sex."
The series' second season begins its rollout today, and in honor of the occasion, Franco called us up for a chat.
Season 1 was film-focused, but Season 2 takes on TV. What inspired the shift?
I've been watching a ton of TV lately, 'cause I'm getting ready to do a pilot for HBO.
That's the David Simon pilot, right? About the porn industry in 1970s New York?
Yes! I'm playing twins, it's going to be great. I wrote to David Simon because I read this book called Difficult Men, which really got me to watch those kinds of shows—The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad. I kind of got sold on the long-form narrative, and The Sopranos is the one that really kicked everything off in a big way. So I read the book and started watching the shows and then just e-mailed David Simon and said, "Hey, I want to try this TV thing."
What are some of the other shows you play with on Making a Scene?
There's Gossip Girl—which I hadn't seen a ton of, but I watched a couple of episodes to get the character down—and Freaks and Geeks, which ended up as a West Side Story mash-up with Saved by the Bell because we were just kind of feeling musical. But the most fun one to do was Married with Children mashed up with Dexter. To just be on a cheap sitcom set and be able to throw fake blood around, that was the best. Whoever was handling the fake blood brought in this cannon, and they would snake it up someone's leg, and I would pretend to cut them open and it would just shoot out, like, a gallon of blood right in my face. [Laughs]
So you've done movies and TV. What's there to do for Season 3?
Huh. You know, I dunno. I guess first they have to pick us up for a third season. [Laughs] But a really fun thing we're thinking about is music videos. The potential with music videos is insane, though we'll probably get a lot of Miley and Bieber and Beyonce and all the popular ones. "Thriller" would be amazing.
What's up with this random X-Files credit on your IMDb page, by the way? I watched the episode and couldn't see you, though there was a James Franco in the credits.
I was never on it! I dunno why it's there, it's this weird thing; that's the only place that appears. My guess is, because it was pretty early on in my career, it was some other James Franco, and there was some mix-up. Though I did do Pacific Blue and The Profiler—those are true. [Laughs]