1. Soap Star
In 2009, after receiving critical acclaim for his appearance in Gus Van Sant’s Milk, Franco surprised critics by accepting a recurring role on daytime soap opera General Hospital as ‘Franco, a multimedia artist who comes to Port Charles with unfinished business with mob enforcer Jason Morgan’. He was eventually killed off in the dramatic scene you see above.
2. Performance Artist
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Franco later claimed that his appearance on General Hospital was a work of ‘performance art’. He eventually presented the performance in its entirety in his experimental 2012 film Francophrenia (Or Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where The Baby Is).
3. Film Director
Francophrenia isn’t Franco’s only project as a filmmaker. Since 2005, he’s directed sixteen feature films, including adaptations of William Faulkner (As I Lay Dying) and Cormac McCarthy (Child of God), and a biopic of Rebel Without a Cause star Sal Mineo.
He’s also written seventeen films.
6. Film Editor
And edited one (a biopic of the American poet Hart Crane called The Broken Tower, which he also wrote, directed, produced and starred in).
James Franco may be Hollywood’s foremost Renaissance man, but that doesn’t mean he’s done learning. Having previously studied everything from filmmaking to poetry at UCLA, the Tisch School of the Arts, Brooklyn College, Warren Wilson College and the Rhode Island School of Design, Franco is now a PhD student at Yale.
While continuing to study, Franco has also taught at USC, UCLA, CalArts and NYU. At the latter, he ran a course on how to ‘modify poetry into short films’, and hooked his students up with cameo appearances from Seth MacFarlane, Kate Mara, Natalie Portman, Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Wiig and Olivia Wilde.
That weird log Franco’s holding may look like a rejected prop from one of the Spider-man movies, but it’s actually an award from Los Angeles’s Art of Elysium charity, which helps children with serious medical conditions and counts Franco amongst its patrons.
11. Aerospace Intern
As a teenage math whiz, Franco secured a prestigious summer internship at aerospace giant Lockheed Martin. He later said that the ‘experience showed me I never wanted to work in that environment’.
12. Recording Artist
To date, Franco has put out two records: a 2011 collaboration with video artist Kalup Linzy called Turn It Up, and the EP Motor City with his band Daddy. He also made a video for the latter featuring loads of behind-the-scenes footage from Spring Breakers.
13. Oscar Host
In an effort to widen the appeal of the Oscars to a younger audience, Franco was asked to co-host the 2011 ceremony with Anne Hathaway. Rolling Stone called him the second-worst host of the last twenty-five years (only Seth MacFarlane ranked lower, and he was awful).
14. Human Sculpture
For a 2012 episode of the Sundance Channel’s Iconoclasts, famed performance artist Marina Abramović transformed Franco into a human sculpture. He was still more energetic as a static art object than he had been as an Oscar host.
16. NASCAR Grand Marshal
The Grand Marshal of the Daytona 500 is expected to say four words: “Drivers, start your engines”. When Franco took on the job in 2013, he instead chose to give a shout out to the race’s sole female driver, Danica Patrick — “drivers, and Danica, start your engines” — prompting onlookers to wonder why she failed to qualify as a driver in his eyes.
Since February, Franco has been the headmaster of the Los Angeles acting school Studio 4, which teaches twice weekly courses in the Meisner technique, an approach favoured by such Franco-level stars as Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock and Aaron Eckhart.
21. McDonald’s Cashier
Fresh out of UCLA, Franco worked as a cashier at McDonald’s while looking for work as an actor.
24. LGBT Activist
Having played more gay characters than almost any other Hollywood A-Lister, Franco was well deserving of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival’s first-ever ally award, given to a prominent figure who works to help the LGBT community. Not that the avalanche of gay jokes at his Comedy Central Roast did much to further their cause.
In the last five years alone, Franco has been published in Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Vice, while also maintaining a regularly updated blog at the Huffington Post. His profile there refers to him as an ‘actor and author’, callously ignoring his thirty other jobs. Wise up, HuffPo.
26. Conceptual Artist
As part of a collaborative project called The Museum of Non-Visible Art, Franco sold the concept of ‘Fresh Air’ for $10,000 in 2011. The buyer, a social media marketeer from Montreal, received only a description of her purchase: ‘No matter where you are, you always have the ability to take a breath of the most delicious, clean-smelling air that the earth can produce.’
Franco secured a Private Pilot License in preparation for his role in the 2006 box office flop Flyboys. At least some good came of it.
29. Voice Artist
Amazingly, unlike almost every other actor in Hollywood, Franco has built a successful career without once lending his voice to an animated movie. Until now. Next year, his dulcet tones will feature in both The Little Prince (the new film from Kung Fu Panda director Mark Osbourne) and Sausage Party (‘an animated movie about one sausage’s quest to discover the truth about his existence’).
Franco has published several books of poetry, but his best-known work is probably the poem he wrote on the occasion of President Obama’s inauguration, which contains such golden lines as ‘When Obama entered / The crowd converged. / Finally, I got to shake his hand / He knew me from Spider-Man.’