As James Franco prepares for the release of what was arguably his most challenging role, iconic gay poet Allen Ginsberg, he sat with The Advocate’s Benoit Denizet-Lewis to discuss inspiration, playing gay, and how he came to tackle the role of Ginsberg in the upcoming biopic Howl.
Despite having conquered numerous gay roles, the heterosexual and wildly handsome Franco feels comfortable with his own sexuality. When Denizet-Lewis asks Franco if he would admit it if he were gay, Franco replies, “Sure, I’d tell you if I was. I guess the reason I wouldn’t is because I’d be worried that it would hurt my career. I suppose that’s the reason one wouldn’t do that, right? But no, that wouldn’t be something that would deter me. I’m going to do projects that I want to do. Everyone thinks I’m a stoner, and some people think I’m gay because I’ve played these gay roles. That’s what people think, but it’s not true. I don’t smoke pot. I’m not gay…”
Why, then, does Franco continue to portray gay? He finds these roles, still notably absent from the big screen, both more interesting and more challenging. “In this history of cinema, there are so many heterosexual love stories,” Franco notes. “It’s so hammered, so done. It’s just not that interesting to me. It’s more interesting to me to play roles and relationships that haven’t been portrayed as often.”
That said, nothing and no one would stop him from taking on the role of Ginsberg. “You want to know what my agents did try to talk me out of?” Franco recalls. “General Hospital. They didn’t think me acting in a soap opera was the greatest idea. But they know that I’ve always wanted to do a movie about the Beats, so no one tried to stop me from playing Allen Ginsberg.”