Happy birthday to James Franco, the man who seems to redefine the concept of performance art with each passing day. He's an Oscar-nominated actor, a consummate academic, a Ryan Gosling obsessive, an author, a curator of invisible art, a teddy-bear torturer, a soap star and a penis-nose wearer, among other things.
Friday, as we celebrate Franco's 35th birthday, we're taking a look back at 35 things the oddball star has done. While you're at it, check out the poem Franco wrote himself for his birthday.
1992-1996 (High school)
As a teenager, Franco fell in to a crowd that stole designer fragrances and sold them to their classmates. "In my first two years of high school, I got into a lot of trouble with the police for minor things: graffiti, stealing, crashing cars," <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/jan/24/james-franco-interview-milk" target="_blank">he revealed to The Guardian</a>. "It was teen angst. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was shy. I changed my ways just in time to get good grades."
After dropping out of UCLA, Franco worked the late shift at McDonald's to support himself while trying to become an actor. "I was vegetarian until [then]," he said.
For his role in the TNT biopic "James Dean," Franco started smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. He was not a smoker previously and has since quit.
To prepare for his role as a drug addict in "City by the Sea," Franco reportedly lived on the streets for several days.
Franco shadowed a male prostitue to prepare for his role in "Sonny," directed by Nicolas Cage.
Along with Merriwether Williams, a former writer and executive for Nickelodeon, he co-wrote "The Ape," a movie about a writer who lives with a talking gorilla. (It is not a children's movie.)
To prepare for his role in "Tristan & Isolde," Franco trained in sword fighting and horseback riding.
In order to take the lead role as an aviator in the World War I movie "Flyboys," Franco had to obtain a pilot's license.
Franco re-enrolled at UCLA as a creative writing major, completing his degree in 2008 after taking an accelerated course load while continuing to act.
He and Mila Kunis spoofed "The Hills."
He moved to New York to simultaneously attend Columbia University's MFA writing program, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for filmmaking and Brooklyn College for fiction writing.
He sometimes gives acting lessons -- or something like that.
High Times magazine named him Stoner of the Year after starring in "Pineapple Express," even though he's said he no longer smokes marijuana. He revealed that his first time getting high was before an eighth-grade dance.
After a scheduling conflict <a href="http://news-briefs.ew.com/2009/06/04/james-franco-drops-out-of-ucla-graduation-speech/" target="_blank">prompted him to cancel</a> his delivery of UCLA's commencement speech one week before the ceremony, Franco created a video spoofing the situation.
He joined the cast of "General Hospital" in the recurring role of Franco, a mystery artist who comes to Port Charles and becomes intertwined with many other residents in town.
He penned a <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107104574570313372878136.html" target="_blank">Wall Street Journal essay</a> about why his "General Hospital" role constitutes performance art.
While completing an MFA at New York University, Franco received a "D" in a Directing the Actor class for missing 12 of the 14 sessions because he was away filming "127 Hours."
He then enrolled in Yale's Ph.D. program in English and the Rhode Island School of Design's digital-media master's program.
Sometimes he refers to himself in the third person. "He's turned his celebrity into a form of performance art," <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/starsandstories/8209459/A-class-apart-interview-with-James-Franco.html" target="_blank">"127 Hours" director Danny Boyle told The Telegraph</a>. "While we were shooting the film, he would sometimes ask me, 'What do you want him to do?' I would say, What do you mean? He would say, 'What do you want from him in this scene?' You mean your character? 'No, no. Franco. What do you want from Franco?' He was talking about himself in the third person. I said, Well, I think he should be more emotional. And he said, 'Oh, I can get him to do that.' And then he'd do the scene and he'd be amazing. He turned on this extraordinary performance. He really does hold himself like a tool, to be used by the director for the benefit of the story."
He wrote a collection of short stories, "Palo Alto," named after the California city where he grew up.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/05/james-franco-in-drag-for-_n_751971.html" target="_blank">This</a>.
He introduced his precious Grandma Mitzie to the world.
Franco decided he loves the sitcom "Three's Company" so much he would reinterpret it as a dramatic short at the Sundance Film Festival.
During <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/01/23/the-new-star-power.html" target="_blank">a Newsweek panel about acting</a>, Franco revealed he made a sex tape. When asked how he handles kissing scenes, he explained: "Anybody who has made a home sex tape knows what feels best doesn’t always look best. I remember when I was 19 doing that, and then watching it back and thinking, 'Oh, that looks horrible.' So you have a lot of respect for those actors in pornography, because they are really not just doing it, they’re really selling it! It’s the same thing with a kiss. It’s not just the kiss that feels best, it’s an image. Something different is happening if it’s a good kiss."
Feb. 27, 2011
He hosted the Oscars, at one point appearing in drag -- again. Long story short, <a href="http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/28/oscars-the-bomb-heard-round-the-internet/" target="_blank">it didn't go over well</a>.
He directed two short films set to R.E.M. songs, one to "Blue" (seen here) and another to <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFwseGCm98o" target="_blank">"That Someone Is You,"</a> with the former featuring Lindsay Lohan. Needless to say, both are bizarre.
He allowed his brother, Dave Franco, to follow him around with a camera for a day and nab a pretty revealing interview out of him.
March 31, 2011
He put on "An Evening with James Franco," a Washington, D.C., benefit dinner to support nonprofit organization 826DC, which aids neighborhood students by providing after-school programs and helping them to reach their goals.
Franco <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/james-francos-new-art-pro_n_877740.html" target="_blank">created invisible art</a> via a Kickstarter campaign. "When you contribute to this Kickstarter project, you are not buying a visible piece of art," the project warned. Someone reportedly paid $10,000 for a piece called "Fresh Air."
Franco released the first single with his band Daddy. "Love in the Old Days" is a psychedelic, Motown-inspired jam, and the video is predictably strange.
He co-directed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/interior-leather-bar-trailer-james-franco_n_2325819.html" target="_blank">"Interior. Leather Bar.,"</a> a <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2012/12/watch-the-trailer-for-francos-homo-sex-art-film.html" target="_blank">"homo-sex-art-film"</a> that pays homage to William Friedkin's controversial, sexually explicit 1980 movie "Cruising." "Interior. Leather Bar." premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Franco didn't want to let go of his titular "Oz the Great and Powerful" character, so he decided to start arriving places via hot air balloon. He sailed in to the movie's Los Angeles premiere and then to his appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
He dyed his hair blond.
He has an art show in Berlin called "Gay Town."
He got very comfortable on Hollywood Boulevard, with his "Oz" character's doll in hand, after r<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/08/james-franco-star-walk-of-fame_n_2836348.html" target="_blank">eceiving his star on the Walk of Fame</a>.
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