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James Franco: Fear of Failure is Behind My Unusual Career Moves

Variety interview shows different side of ‘The Disaster Artist’ and ‘Deuce’ actor.

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Over the course of a very varied career, James Franco has been painted as either a renaissance man or a dilettante — depending on the individual critic’s point of view.

But his upcoming film, The Disaster Artist, in which he both stars and directs, and his acclaimed HBO period drama series, The Deuce, about the growth of the porn industry in ’70s New York, seem different to the 39-year-old actor than his previous spurts of work. In fact, Franco told Variety that his non-stop flittering from project to project  “was a defense mechanism,” and he’s finally found his groove.

“If I do a lot of things and one of them comes out and people don’t like it, I’m already on to the next thing. I’m not even listening to the criticism. But it’s also an escape,” Franco told the industry trade for its latest cover story.

“If I kept myself busy, I never had to look at myself or my life.”

James Franco in ‘The Deuce’ (HBO)

Over an extremely varied career that began with the 1999 cult TV show, Freaks and Geeks, Franco gained his reputation for dabbling in everything from mainstream action films (Spider-Man) to Broadway (Of Mice and Men) to penning fiction (Palo Alto). He’s collected graduate degrees from universities on either coast — and taught courses as well. He played a different role of sorts, a tongue-in-cheek version of himself, on Instagram; but in a sign of how much he wants to shed that rep, he deactivated his feed.

The Disaster Artist, a comic drama about the real-life story behind the making of the notorious cult classic, The Room, is expected to net Franco his first Oscar nom since 2011’s 127 Hours.

“My public persona is this weird part of me, but not part of me,” he told Variety. “Other outlets use it to sell magazines. (So) why can’t I have fun with it? On the other hand, it becomes you.

“There was a period 10 years ago that I wasn’t the James Franco that everyone suddenly knew, doing all these things. It’s almost like the mask gets fused to your face.”

See the trailer for The Disaster Artist below:

Read full story at Variety