There’s a lengthy cover article in this month’s GQ about James Franco in which he talks about how he’s going to senior writing class in the fall and also about his movies and stuff. Judd Apatow says that he never even knew James was attractive and that he just thought he was kind of a funny weirdo! Insights! But there’s one story in particular that really gives fans a look into Franco’s dedication to the craft of being in movies.
One afternoon, I ask Franco about the research he did for Sonny, a minor but perfectly robust movie directed by Nicolas Cage in which Franco plays a New Orleans prostitute. After a failed attempt to get useful information from some female prostitutes on Santa Monica Boulevard–during which the hookers insisted on touching his penis, purportedly to establish that he was not an undercover cop–he went to New Orleans, where he was introduced to a guy who was supposedly a gigolo.
Fair enough. Now how exactly does that lead to ending up at a hotel coke party with your shirt off watching an old man put on a cock ring?
“There was a strip club on Bourbon Street,” he begins. “I had only ever been to one strip club before I went to New Orleans to do that movie. But I started going to every strip club. There was one they advertise as ‘Live Sex Shows’ and I went in there and met a male stripper who said he was straight and that he serviced men and women. I later found out he didn’t really tell the truth all the time. But I thought he was a good model for my part. And he was the guy I hung out with the most. He would do lap dances for people, and then in between we hung out in the back. So I was with him one night and this other guy came in. And this guy came in and said to my friend, ‘Hey, man, I need you for a job right now–this guy wants two.’ And he said, ‘I’m hanging out with James doing research for this movie.’ And the guy says, ‘You’re doing research? Okay. You want to do real research. You’re going to come down, come to the hotel. This guy’s so out of his mind on coke, he won’t even know what’s going on. You just sit in the corner in the chair, take your shirt off, sit there, you can watch the whole thing.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ “
Weren’t you a bit worried about what you were getting yourself into?
“Yeah. Heck, yes. But then I thought, ‘Well, this is real research. I’ve got to do this for the role, man, I’ve got to do this.’ But yeah, it was terrifying. Especially when I get there–this guy was a doctor, apparently. He was an older man. And they whip out the cocaine and they start doing cocaine on the desk and I’m like–am I incriminating myself? I mean, I didn’t do any of the cocaine. Okay? I just went there to observe. So that was scary. It was in a nice hotel. The guy who took us over had a key to the room. So he just opened up and the doctor is just lying in the bed. And he wasn’t completely naked when we got in there, but he certainly got naked.”
And so where in the room did you go?
“I was just standing over near the desk. And they all got in the bed and, I mean, he was out of his head. He was so high on cocaine, I guess, or drunk or whatever, and he was saying, like, ‘Oh, my wife and daughters are coming tomorrow, but this is great.’ It was the ?rst time I ever saw a cock ring. He put on a cock ring. And then they both kind of like stood over him, and the guy was, like, stroking both of them and he was like, ‘Ah, all these cocks, I love these cocks.’ ” (Later, Franco would tell Cage about all this, and it would become the inspiration for when Cage’s character in the movie, a pimp called Acid Yellow, snorts a line and then declares, “I love coke cock.”)
And did you take your shirt off to, so to speak, be in the vibe?
“Yeah, I guess I had my shirt off.”
Haha. What? Actors are so silly. It would be one thing if James Franco was writing a book about cock rings and really wanted to get some details for the verisimilitude. Or even if he was writing the script maybe. Like, if he wanted some ideas for scenes. But he didn’t write the script for this movie, he just said the words. He said the words and wore the leather pants. I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is why I’m not a movie star, not enough voyeuristic standing around with my shirt off at creepy cocaine fueled fuck parties. Just kidding. I’ve been to tons. Mostly up in Canada. With people you don’t know.