After playing best buddy to Peter Parker in the Spider-Man trilogy James Franco, 30, shows his lighter side in weed action comedy Pineapple Express, in which he plays a permanently high drug dealer on the run with his friend and customer (Seth Rogen).
How did you prepare to play Saul Silver in Pineapple Express?
Well, I watched a lot of stoner characters, like [Sean Penn’s] Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski and Brad Pitt’s character in True Romance. When they were coming up with the initial idea for this movie, that character was a big inspiration. He’s stoned and completely out of it, lying on his couch, then these gangsters show up with high-powered weapons and he really doesn’t have any concept as to what’s going on. So that was the seed for this movie.
So did any of you get high for real on set?
I actually don’t smoke now. I certainly have in my life but Seth smokes a fair amount, and I don’t think he’s shy about that. It seems to be a different issue over here in England. I think some scenes had to be taken out.
Still, you’re known as a bit of a Method actor. Is it true you slept rough for the Robert De Niro film City By The Sea?
Yeah, I slept on the streets for a couple of days in LA and New York. It was like this whole other world. I gave myself no money, so I had to beg. I made signs on the freeway – and got money that way. In New York, I met up with some people who showed me how to sleep with cardboard boxes.
You’re next up in Nights at Rodanthe, with Richard Gere. Who do you play?
I play Richard Gere’s character’s son. I only worked a few days on that, mainly because I really wanted to work with the director George Wolfe, who is one of the best and most important theatre directors in New York. He did Angels in America. He called me up and said, ‘I would love for you to do a few days on the film.’
Pineapple Express opens on September 12th.