Franco proud of arty role on ‘General Hospital’

James Franco has become a poster boy for multi-tasking (or possibly attention deficit disorder), famously plowing through four graduate degrees in the last year (three down, one to go) while continuing to make movies. Presently, he’s enrolled at Yale, earning his doctorate in English and taking classes at the Rhode Island School of Design while zigzagging around the globe to promote “127 Hours.”

And while Franco will happily chat up his studies or make the “Planet of the Apes” prequel last summer or star opposite a perverted puppet in David Gordon Green’s upcoming movie “Your Highness,” what really gets him going is his continuing involvement playing the deranged performance artist “Franco” on the daytime drama “General Hospital.”

Apparently, soap operas are addictive.

When we last saw “Franco” on “General Hospital” in July, he was lying in a pool of blood after falling from a balcony during his latest show, “Francophrenia,” hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art at the Pacific Design Center. But, in classic soap tradition, that wasn’t really Franco falling. Or maybe it was. Even James Franco admits the whole thing’s a little confusing.

The actor is talking to MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch about a follow-up to the meta-episode and hopes to direct it.

“If there’s some way to work it out that you feel Franco’s influence over the entire show,” Franco says, and we think he’s talking about the character here, “then there’s something really interesting there. That MOCA episode, I’m very proud of that. I consider that a piece of art.”


Franco contacted the producers of “General Hospital” last year, wanting to come on the show for the “full treatment.” He asked to play a deranged artist. The show’s writers named the character Franco. Franco the actor has done the rest, skirting and flirting with the show’s fourth wall.

None of it surprises “127 Hours” director Danny Boyle.

“James has this weird thing where there’s this slight dislocation with himself,” Boyle says. “We’d be discussing a scene and it’s like, ‘What do you want this guy Franco to do, and I’ll get him to do it.’ It’s part of his method. It’s a little weird. But it works.”

—Glenn Whipp