Profile of James Franco's crazy life.
July 26, 2010 7:58 AM   Subscribe

(1) Can James Franco possibly be for real? (2) If he is, then—just logistically—how is all this possible? He’s just flown back from Berlin this afternoon, he says, and he has a 35-page paper due tomorrow. Next weekend he has to shoot a student film, because in two weeks he’ll be flying out to Salt Lake City to start acting in a movie called 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle’s follow-up to Slumdog Millionaire, in which Franco will play a hiker who gets pinned by a boulder and has to amputate his own arm. Revisions are due soon on his book of short stories, which will be published in October by Scribner. He’s trying to nail down the details of an art show that will be based, somehow, on his recent performance on the soap opera General Hospital. Also, he has class every day, which—since he’s enrolled in four graduate programs at once—requires commuting among Brooklyn, Greenwich Village, Morningside Heights, and occasionally North Carolina.
posted by geoff. (152 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
It probably helps to have accountants and personal assistants to handle the mundane details of life and enough money that travel costs aren't an issue :)

Not to detract from the activities he is doing - you don't do any of those things without being a highly driven individual.
posted by codswallop at 8:03 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


If anyone else finds that font hard to read, try this version of the article.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:03 AM on July 26, 2010


I believe he's also in love with a japanese body pillow
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:05 AM on July 26, 2010 [56 favorites]


I've often contemplated asking over at our sister site how it is certain people can accomplish so much and all I want to do at the end of the day is eat chips and play Co-Op Shooter till midnight.

Neil Gaiman, FFS.

I don't even have the time or inclination to read even the better half of what the man has written.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:06 AM on July 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Metafilter needs floods of heartsick prose poetry, stat.
posted by crunchland at 8:07 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


What does this have to do with me?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:08 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to be a hater, but this is the same guy that wrote this right
posted by AceRock at 8:10 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I'm jealous of super-achievers like James Franco who can exist on just a few hours of sleep a night, but then I think about how awesome sleep is and I'm OK with it. Seriously, sleep is the best. The snuggling into bed, the dozing, the dreaming, the waking up briefly, curling up and drifting back into snooze.....

I definitely have a greater respect for Franco after reading this article though. He certainly seems to be accomplishing more then I could in three lifetimes (but I bet he's not three times happier then me).
posted by Go Banana at 8:13 AM on July 26, 2010 [33 favorites]


I like that James Franco. Alot.

That's all.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:14 AM on July 26, 2010


I was just watching a biography of Tom Cruise and was struck again by what can be accomplished with just a buttload of manic intensity (combined with some natural talents, of course.) Most people I know live up to maybe 5% of their potential. Largely, it's because they're psychologically healthy or perhaps mildly depressed and/or anxious human beings who have other priorities.

I'm not saying people should be like Cruise or (apparently) James Franco. But it sure is interesting to see what's possible when people devote themselves entirely to accomplishing things.
posted by callmejay at 8:15 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Real or not, I want to do him.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 8:17 AM on July 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


I wish the author of this article had spent more time than just a mere paragraph delving into the homoerotic significance of that wink.
posted by crunchland at 8:18 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This sort of maniacal over-exertion scares me a little bit.
posted by dng at 8:19 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not like he's working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering. I bet he can get by with a lot of drivel and hire someone to correct his badly written papers.
posted by anniecat at 8:20 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I want to go to there.
posted by Beardman at 8:21 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not like he's working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering.

Leave it to MetaFilter to turn this into a "humanities grad school vs. science grad school" derail. I dunno, something tells me you've never tried getting an advanced degree in English at Yale: but either way the idea that such a thing is just a walk in the park is absurd, um, "drivel."
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:24 AM on July 26, 2010 [50 favorites]


Bigger pic of Sleepy Franco.
I did not really care for his work as an actor, but his subversive appearances on General Hospital won me over. This one is by far my favorite.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:29 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hate people who have energy.
posted by aramaic at 8:29 AM on July 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


Also, he has class every day, which—since he’s enrolled in four graduate programs at once—requires commuting among Brooklyn, Greenwich Village, Morningside Heights, and occasionally North Carolina.

psst... I'm guessing he skips class sometimes. I know, I know, but Franco's a saint.
posted by naju at 8:31 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eight tiny reindeer.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 8:33 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wonder quite honestly if he uses any psychostimulants...
posted by Chipmazing at 8:34 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Most people juggle a billion things at once. My sister-in-law has four kids, three of whom are starting high school, is a personal trainer for executives at one of the largest electric companies in the world, is taking classes to become a CPA, is taking care of her dad after he had a hip replacement, volunteers with the MSPCA and bakes astounding pastries almost daily because she's always finding new recipes online. That sounds about as exhausting as Franco's activities, but because she isn't flying around the world and getting in front of reporters who will interpret the smallest gesture as a Deep Personal Message, it seems as pedestrian as everyone else's life.
posted by xingcat at 8:36 AM on July 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


naju, lots of grad students skip classes!
posted by madcaptenor at 8:36 AM on July 26, 2010


It helps to be a dilettante who doesn't need an academic job.
posted by pickypicky at 8:38 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not like he's working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering. I bet he can get by with a lot of drivel and hire someone to correct his badly written papers.

You could say the same thing of someone working toward a PhD in Nuclear Engineering. Ah, but it's so much more fun to be shitty about literature! Fuckin' books, just read 'em amirite?
posted by desuetude at 8:39 AM on July 26, 2010 [29 favorites]


Your sister is not someone I would describe as "not doing much".
posted by smackfu at 8:39 AM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I first saw Franco in the Spider-Man movies as Harry Osborne, a character who in the comics has mostly functioned as being an even bigger loser than his friend Peter Parker (Harry not only had the underachieving-son-of-a-supervillain thing going, but also was a junkie for a bit in the sixties). So it's been a bit of a pleasant shock to see him in things like Milk and in trailers for Howl as Allan Ginsberg.

And, yeah, anniecat, not all of us are trying to cure cancer, mmmkay?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:39 AM on July 26, 2010


Well Margaret Thatcher only used have 3 hours sleep a night, hopefully Franco and use his powers for good.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:40 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


He seems to suffer, or to benefit, from the opposite of ADHD: a superhuman ability to focus that allows him to shuttle quickly between projects and to read happily in the midst of chaos.

Writer doesn't know much about ADHD, huh.
posted by desuetude at 8:40 AM on July 26, 2010 [27 favorites]


My sister-in-law has four kids, three of whom are starting high school, is a personal trainer for executives at one of the largest electric companies in the world, is taking classes to become a CPA, is taking care of her dad after he had a hip replacement, volunteers with the MSPCA and bakes astounding pastries almost daily because she's always finding new recipes online.

Anecdotally, I would not consider this typical.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:40 AM on July 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


You know what? Good for him. I think it is great when people can throw themselves into things with full effort and complete sincerity. Most people could stand to lose the snark and be a lot more like this.
posted by millipede at 8:40 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Looks to me that he has a stream of movies set for release and needed a little heat so he called Bert Cooper's man at NY Magazine.
posted by any major dude at 8:44 AM on July 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


62 credits??????
posted by mollywas at 8:50 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think it is great when people can throw themselves into things with full effort and complete sincerity. Most people could stand to lose the snark and be a lot more like this.

I dunno, having a lifestyle that affords me the time, leisure and money to pursue my passions and interests? That sounds super stressful, I think I'll just watch TV instead.
posted by edbles at 8:53 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, it's nice to know that super-achievers like James Franco and Neil Gaiman exist, if for no other reason than to show us what's possible at the limits of human accomplishments (and both of them seem more authentic than the relentlessly self-promoting Timothy Ferriss)

On the other hand, knowing that they do exist just makes me feel bad that I haven't done more with my life (aside from hold down a full-time job, raise two small children with no day care, maintain a stable marriage, maintain my second language, try to keep physically fit, cook nutritious meals every day for the family, keep up with my blogs, make intricate and personal gifts for birthdays and christmas, stay active in my community, and so on). I mean, James Franco probably does that before breakfast, right?

(I have the same reaction every month when that f***ing alumni magazine arrives in the mail with its f***ing class notes. Oh, my old dorm-mate is now on the board at the Mayo Clinic, and that other guy from my Linear Algebra class won the Fields Medal? Aw, crap. I mean, good for them!)
posted by math at 8:56 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is one of my favorite Franco-things ever.

Actors sniff jackets!
posted by The Deej at 8:56 AM on July 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Can James Franco possibly be for real? If he is, then—just logistically—how is all this possible?

How is it possible? Easy. James Franco has clearly never discovered MetaFilter.

I'm joking. Of course, I'm joking! I love spending time here!
posted by scblackman at 8:57 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dude needs to quit fucking around with grad school and make some more funnyordie videos. Priorities, son.
posted by mullacc at 9:01 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


For an article that starts off with an offhand allusion to his new mustache, would it have killed them to include a photograph of that, instead of that weird trippy color distorted picture? Jesus, editors. Come on.
posted by norm at 9:09 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The party is sponsored by Polaroid, which is using the occasion to promote its new Polaroid 300 camera so aggressively it feels almost like a satire of publicity: Everyone is taking photos, or photos of photos, or video of photographers taking photos of photos. It’s like Andy Warhol has thrown a surprise party for a Don DeLillo novel.

This is my new favorite thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:09 AM on July 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


All of us Gen-Xers and Millenials can stop complaining about the Boomers now. If your response to the productivity and seeming joie de vie of someone like Franco is to immediately reflect on how it makes you feel - well, look, then we're no better than they are, are we?

Come on, people. Chin up. Don't take this guy to task for going out there and just doing it. Want to do something? THEN DO IT.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:11 AM on July 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


On the one hand, it's nice to know that super-achievers like James Franco and Neil Gaiman exist, if for no other reason than to show us what's possible at the limits of human accomplishments (and both of them seem more authentic than the relentlessly self-promoting Timothy Ferriss)

While I will defend literature/film/arts as a worthy and serious PhD subject and openly speculate that Mr. Franco does in fact have ADHD, I wouldn't put him and Neil Gaiman in the same category. The latter is an extremely accomplished professional writer. The former is an okay actor with a lot of hobbies.
posted by desuetude at 9:12 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I knew a guy in college who was simultaneously enrolled with full-time loads at two colleges because his father wouldn't pay for the private university he wanted to go to but would pay for a public school. Somewhere around midterms, his apartment caught fire, and at some point after that he claimed had 16 papers to write one weekend thanks to the extensions. He eventually had to drop out of the private school because apparently even in 2005 at least one lender was hesistant to dump $200,000 of debt on a 20 year old who wasn't going to get parental support for it (hard to believe, I know).

Last I heard he'd gotten his uncle to pay for a final semester at Harvard so he could finish off his economics degree, after which he was off to spend the rest of his life as a banker in Switzerland, so, in summary, fuck that guy. At least James Franco seems like he's doing it for good reasons.
posted by Copronymus at 9:13 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It makes me sad that we find this so remarkable. There used to be many more Renaissance Men, e.g. in the Renaissance. Of course, throughout human history, the number of people who have had the means, stamina and desire to do this has always been small, but it's a smaller now than it was.

I am usually suspicious when people talk about how bad things are now compared to the "olden days," but I really think our lover-affair with lives of the mind has waned. When my Dad was in school, in the 40s and 50s, he had to write every day. By the time I got to school, in the 70s and 80s, having to write a "term paper" was a big, traumatic deal.

My dad and I are both published authors. He has written over 30 books. I have written four -- two of them co-written. Quantity isn't quality, but my point is that he was trained to just naturally put his fingers on a keyboard and GO! He's now in his 80s, and arthritis makes it hard for him to type, so he's getting an iPad, which is easier on his fingers. I'm sure he will be buried with a pen in his hands.

In so many ways, I am glad I live now and not "back then," but I do wish that when I read about someone like Franco, I thought, "Yup. Another industrious smart guy" and not, "Good for him, even though he's a bit of a freak." I think most of us, today, look on people like Franco with a bit of suspicion, as if they're trying to prove they are smarter than us. As if they should just calm down. It's hard to think of them as just doing stuff they like doing.
posted by grumblebee at 9:18 AM on July 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


If James Franco isn't real, this bulge in my pants isn't real either.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:20 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well Margaret Thatcher only used have 3 hours sleep a night

They say that the first three hours of sleep are to rest your mind. The next three are to rest your heart.
posted by flarbuse at 9:25 AM on July 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


I wonder how she slept at all?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:28 AM on July 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


If James Franco isn't real, this bulge in my pants isn't real either.

Not to be a downer, but that might be a tumor.

Better let Dr. Franco have a look.
posted by rokusan at 9:31 AM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


It makes me sad that we find this so remarkable. There used to be many more Renaissance Men, e.g. in the Renaissance.

While most of the populace lived out their nasty, short, and brutish lives and were elderly at 50.

I agree that more intellectual pursuits are considered more extraordinary than they should be, but I don't think it's a given that there were more "Renaissance Men" in ye olden days.
posted by desuetude at 9:32 AM on July 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Reading the article I realised I could probably get a shit-load more stuff done if I can a butler / valet / slave sorry, 'personal assistant', catering to my every whim... snap fingers where's my funking sandwich!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:34 AM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Manic depressive, anyone?
posted by borges at 9:40 AM on July 26, 2010


I am usually suspicious when people talk about how bad things are now compared to the "olden days,"

Not enough.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:41 AM on July 26, 2010


Why do joy say that?
posted by grumblebee at 9:43 AM on July 26, 2010


I don't know exactly how to feel about this. On one hand as a human being I think it's really cool that he's a curious guy who wants to make use of all his diverse talents. On the other hand I think his talents such as they are would get him an office job and stack of rejection letters if he didn't look like James Franco. That's not the scathing criticism that it might seem to be. Tons of talented worthwhile people do it. I'm ulitmately positive about the guy. His looks gave him access to some amazing oppurtunities and he's made the most of them. I give him a lot of credit for it. But really the big difference between him and a lot of other people who are probably more talented than him is that he is very, very handsome.
posted by I Foody at 9:43 AM on July 26, 2010


Sorry: why do you say that?

I spend a lot of my free time studying history. I know how hard life was for most people in most times. And how hard it still is for countless people today. What has that to do with what I wrote?

We once valued intellectualism more than we do now.
posted by grumblebee at 9:45 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


James Franco is two people. He's Mary-Kate and Ashley in Full House. He's Christian Bale in The Prestige (oh wait, spoilers, sorry). If I had a twin, I'd be doing it too. It's worth sacrificing your personal identity if you can become a superhuman in the world's eyes. He's not mentally unsound; each half of "James Franco" is healthy, well-rested, and wickedly gleeful that the ruse has continued for so long.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:45 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]




We once valued intellectualism more than we do now.

But isn't "we" in this sentence just talking about the rich upper classes? The majority of the population who couldn't read and write weren't valuing those famous Renaissance men at all.
posted by smackfu at 9:52 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not like he's working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering. I bet he can get by with a lot of drivel and hire someone to correct his badly written papers.

You do know that you're talking shit, right? Getting a Ph.D in the humanities at in Ivy is hell of a lot harder than than you think.

I will say this though, it's one thing to start a Ph.D. It's a whole other thing to finish a Ph.D.
posted by ob at 9:52 AM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry: why do you say that?

Because comparing the intellectual/artistic/scientific output of a handful of noblemen or trained artisans under a patronage system 500 years ago to that of contemporary working class folks is pure folly.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:52 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because comparing the intellectual/artistic/scientific output of a handful of noblemen or trained artisans under a patronage system 500 years ago to that of contemporary working class folks is pure folly.

What? I wasn't comparing anything with contemporary working class folks. I was comparing an intellectual elite "then" with one now.
posted by grumblebee at 9:54 AM on July 26, 2010


Looks like I need to start drinking coffee.
posted by soma lkzx at 9:54 AM on July 26, 2010


We once valued intellectualism more than we do now.

But isn't "we" in this sentence just talking about the rich upper classes? The majority of the population who couldn't read and write weren't valuing those famous Renaissance men at all.

Yes. I tried to make that clear, but failed miserably. Sorry. At one point in history, a small, elite, privileged group of people valued intellectualism and trained themselves to be intellectually rigorous. Absolutely they did this by taking advantage of other, less privileged people.

Nowadays (in the USA), though it's still abysmal, the general state of public education has greatly improved. (Not nearly as many illiterate people, etc.) But that intellectual class has shrunk. And society, in general, doesn't hold them in as high an esteem as they once did. And, in fact, in the US, there's a strong anti-intellectual strain.

I wouldn't want to push the clock back. But there are good things about valuing intellectualism.
posted by grumblebee at 9:58 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


But that's my point. Where do you get an intellectual elite in contemporary capitalistic Western society? I could just as well argue that intellectualism and aesthetic investment through culture has increased over the last half-millennium; literacy certainly has improved.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:58 AM on July 26, 2010


If we'd really hunker down and stop distracting ourselves with television and recreational drugs and having children and having to work multiple crap jobs to pay for our education, we'd all have sufficient time to do this sort of thing. Honestly. We all could be a lot more effective if we weren't distracted by all the things we have to do even when we don't want to.

Occasionally I travel without a destination in mind, to see where my brain will take me, and sometimes it's just an opportunity to recover from the grind. Other times, when I'm not already feeling grind-y, it's a chance to realize just how much time I have in a day, and to put it to effective use.

This is one of the reasons people with privilege get to succeed much more easily -- when your baseline for survival requires little or no effort on your part, you'll be bored to tears if you don't pursue a lot of interests, and where interests are being pursued, opportunities arise. Plus, having funds grants you access to a lot of interests that you wouldn't otherwise be able to pursue, giving you unique opportunities.

So, would be all be James Franco, given the opportunity? Nah, but I bet most of us would be that impressively busy.
posted by davejay at 9:59 AM on July 26, 2010


All I'm saying is that when my dad was a kid, he was a walking stack of books. No one in his school made fun of him, because that was the ideal. By the time I got to school, walking stacks of books got pushed into the girls' bathroom.

There is a US ideal that one should be smart but not TOO smart. There's a general ethos of moderation in America. Fundamentalists and Atheists get more flack than people who, you know, go to church occasionally but aren't zealots.

I am not claiming this is a bad thing. I'm claiming it's a mixed thing.
posted by grumblebee at 10:01 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


We once valued intellectualism more than we do now.

We also used to have one rigid value system, instead of a multitude of divergent find your own destiny/bliss/value in your pursuits.
posted by edbles at 10:05 AM on July 26, 2010


There is a US ideal that one should be smart but not TOO smart.

That shit's been with us since the pilgrims. Sarah Vowell talks about it extensively in The Wordy Shipmates. The thing about self-governance is that you simultaneously need people who are specialized in government to run the government, but that communities and groups have a deep distrust of anyone who puts themselves on a pedestal.
posted by edbles at 10:07 AM on July 26, 2010


Franco sounds like a motivated and creative dude. Good for him.

With that out of the way, did anyone else have trouble even reading this article, because they were mentally checking items off the Major Upper-Class Magazine Celebrity Profile Checklist? It's like they write them by template now.

* Reporter meets subject very briefly, is star-struck, and does something quirky with them (in this case, hits the bathroom). 1 to 3 paragraphs.
* Reporter does a lot of research, regurgitates subject's career and know life so far. As many pararaphs as it takes, ideally enough for three or four pages.
* Reporter happens to run into subject again at glamorous (but lightly mocked) event they both happen to be at (because reporter, while at pains to describe how star-struck he/she is by subject, is at equal pains to display social equality with subject).
* No conclusion is reached about mysterious and/or "quirky" event that happened in paragraph 1.

If anyone reading this has any influence in the major magazine house styles, please for god's sake find some profile writers who don't follow this same hackneyed formula.
posted by rusty at 10:07 AM on July 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


I don't think the intellectual class has shrunk as much as it has been dispersed. I think it's true that people who are the equivalents of Arthur Koestler, Irving Howe, Lionel Trilling, Edmund Wilson, Mary McCarthy, etc., etc. are not as much on a media pedestal as they were in the 1940s and 1950s. But times change. There is an intellectual class nowadays -- it's just not as prominent or automatically visible. The continued existence of chatter shows like Charlie Rose's show attests to this. Another example: book reviews are the staple of the final segments of Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert. A good many of the people who are interviewed for these segments are ..... part of the intellectual class.

I don't disagree with the simultaneous reality that there is an increasingly strong anti-intellectual strain in US culture. But that's always been there too, it's just taken different form at different times.
posted by blucevalo at 10:12 AM on July 26, 2010


You know that crippling fear that you've WASTED YOUR LIFE and now it's OVER FOREVER? I get that a lot.

I'm Twenty Fucking Five. Realistically speaking, I am just starting and I've done a whole lot of things - I've written two books, an ongoing web-series, a published cartoonist and short fiction author (and been PAID to do these things), Creative director for a world-wide arts franchise, learned how to cook at a high level, how to garden and been all around Europe, lot like 30 pounds and taught myself another language (kinda) and formally impossible stuff like being social and able to go outside.

Yet, in the dark anxiety pits of my mind, I feel like I've done NOTHING and I've somehow missed this magical window and it's ALL GOING TO BE DOWNHILL FROM NOW. Always waiting for the other show to drop - cause I have friends who get feature stories on themselves in magazines where I've only gotten my picture in and no one ever flew ME out to Brazil but then again I know THAT friend is going insane from anxiety and panic cause HER friends got into a bigger show or wasn't reviewed as well and no one ever gave her an award and my god how did all these people get *younger* all of a sudden?

It's the Achievement Arms Race, and if you're around a lot of very driven people, it can turn you into a crazy person. And I think it's worse for people who got hailed as prodigies. Rationally I know it's bunk, but the irrational Joan-Crawford part of my brain is still prickly and seething at me for not working 24-hours a day on the Monument To Wonderful Me and the Quantifiable Achievement Checklist..

My survival method so far as been to cultivate a persona of idle hedonism.
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 AM on July 26, 2010 [16 favorites]


"Also, he has class every day, which—since he’s enrolled in four graduate programs at once—requires commuting among Brooklyn, Greenwich Village, Morningside Heights, and occasionally North Carolina. He looks exhausted; it occurs to me that maybe he’s bouncing around to keep himself awake. "

OK I am not American so I have no idea, but logistically, how does he do this? how long is he in each class, and how many days at each place?

Also

"It makes me sad that we find this so remarkable. There used to be many more Renaissance Men, e.g. in the Renaissance.

While most of the populace lived out their nasty, short, and brutish lives and were elderly at 50"

And still the rich live longer than the poor, and it has gotten worse in England
posted by marienbad at 10:17 AM on July 26, 2010


I'm Twenty Fucking Five.

You're Totally Fucking Depressing Me, is what you are.
posted by Shepherd at 10:18 AM on July 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm Twenty Fucking Five. Realistically speaking, I am just starting and I've done a whole lot of things - I've written two books, an ongoing web-series, a published cartoonist and short fiction author (and been PAID to do these things), Creative director for a world-wide arts franchise, learned how to cook at a high level, how to garden and been all around Europe, lot like 30 pounds and taught myself another language (kinda) and formally impossible stuff like being social and able to go outside.

Now I hate James Franco and you!

<---Totally missing your point.
posted by edbles at 10:24 AM on July 26, 2010


There used to be many more Renaissance Men

One man's Renaissance Man is another man's Insufferable Overacheiving Narcissist.
posted by jonmc at 10:34 AM on July 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


I'm Twenty Fucking Five. Realistically speaking, I am just starting and I've done a whole lot of things - I've written two books, an ongoing web-series, a published cartoonist and short fiction author (and been PAID to do these things), Creative director for a world-wide arts franchise, learned how to cook at a high level, how to garden and been all around Europe, lot like 30 pounds and taught myself another language (kinda) and formally impossible stuff like being social and able to go outside.

Yeah, seriously, Whelk, what you really need to do is sweet fuck all for a year or two and find out what you want to do that would make you feel fulfilled. My greatest achievement at Twenty Fucking Five was that I got a six-piece funk band to play my living room at our Anti-Super-Bowl party. Then when I was 26 I moved to India for a year, did very little in the way of quantifiable output, and came back with a general sense of the direction I wanted to move in. But even at Twenty Fucking Five you've got a good five years or so before that becomes essential work. I mean, I was probably 28 or 29 before I really started on my life's work, and at least 32 before I fully understood what that even meant.

As for that dirvish James Franco, his red-carpet shout-out at the Oscars led to a great many people reading my friend Carl Wilson's fantastic book, so for that alone he'll always be a righteous dude in my accounting.

Well, that and Freaks & Geeks, of course.
posted by gompa at 10:37 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a very entertaining read, thanks for sharing.
posted by Fizz at 10:44 AM on July 26, 2010


The article didn't really detail what sort of advanced education classes he is taking, but there are a lot of graduate programs that are mostly done online, especially ones that are reading/writing intensive. My mother is finishing an advanced degree in pharmacy that requires her to travel to Milwaukee once a month and Florida twice per year, if I remember right, in both cases for specific tests.

And for those of you who have never been on a movie set, films are often done with very little rehearsal, and shooting the scenes themselves often involves an actor saying three lines of dialogue, or a page, at most, while he is being filmed, and then going back to his trailer for an hour to wait for the crew to reset lights. Most films are not shot especially fast, so an actor might do a scene or two per day. Actual time out of the trailer -- it can very, but it can be as little as an hour total. Set Franco up with a laptop computer and a lock on his door, enroll him in a lot of classes that are done via the Internets, and this it totally doable.

Just like Franco himself. Grr.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 AM on July 26, 2010


You know what happens to over-achievers? They die, just like every one else. If you meet James Franco on the road, kill him.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:46 AM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


There used to be many more Renaissance Men, e.g. in the Renaissance

I'm not so good on my European history, but I think the patronage system was a big part of this. Leonardo Da Vinci didn't have to worry about making rent, or buying groceries, or paying his taxes, or holding down a boring day job so he could finance his "hobbies"; he had a patron who took care of all of that, so he could focus entirely on painting, and performing fun science experiments, and drawing cool, futuristic helicopters and airplanes and tanks; you know, the exact same things you did when you were younger and didn't have to worry about rent and groceries and taxes and a boring day job. (On the downside, my impression is that you really don't make any money in a patronage, so the whole concept is pretty repulsive to modern, capitalism-minded people.)

Nowadays a polymath is called a "jack of all trades" (with an implied "master of none"), and I would wager that there are proportionally more polymaths now than there were during the Renaissance. How many of us here on mefi have written a piece of music, and have something up on YouTube, and have programmed something, and have some sort of blog, and can cook, and a few other minor accomplishments, and have a day job? Even if you say "no" to one or two of these, I bet you say "yes" to the rest, so congratulations, you're a polymath, just like Leonardo Da Vinci and James Franco (but minus the patron in the former case and the boundless energy in the latter case).
posted by luvcraft at 10:46 AM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, he has class every day, which—since he’s enrolled in four graduate programs at once

Yeah, count me very skeptical too. A real grad program---humanities or science---needs at least 3 full credit courses in the first year, often the same in the second, with large requirements for thesis work on top of that. Four full course loads, with four theses seems utterly impossible. I don't mean impossible, hard, I mean not enough hours in a day impossible.

Further, there's no way any academic advisor worth their salt would allow a student to do multiple grad programs simultaneously. Can anyone who has been through grad school imagine asking their supervior for better than 3/4 of their time off? People regularly get kicked out of programs for taking too long or too frequent breaks. Hell, I got grief for taking four days to go to a grandparent's funeral during grad school.

If he's doing anything close to what the haigiography claims, I suspect that he's in a of joint program between a few of different campuses, perhaps with co-supervisors in different locations, perhaps with a work-study period somewhere. That's not uncommon at all. It's a far cry from doing four degrees at once though.
posted by bonehead at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Huh. I'd never heard of this guy before. He sounds pretty interesting...
posted by slogger at 10:50 AM on July 26, 2010


James Franco's first solo art show, called 'The Dangerous Book for Boys,' at the Clocktower Gallery in NYC (through to September 2010).
'The Dangerous Book Four Boys' addresses boyhood and the "sexual confusion" of adolescence, as Ms. Heiss put it. Short films focus on demolition, showing burning or bullet-riddled structures like a plastic toy home or a large wooden rocket (the exhibition contains originals or replicas of these). Another work explores a romantic encounter between 'Star Trek' characters Spock and James T. Kirk.

"I feel like shows or films that deal with kids, they're playing to all of these sexual feelings that you have at that age, but they don't fully admit to it," he said. "So I kind of try to draw that out. The implicit in those shows and books, I try to make it a little more explicit." *
posted by ericb at 10:52 AM on July 26, 2010


James Franco to teach "very special class" at Yale.

So it's been a bit of a pleasant shock to see him in things like Milk and in trailers for Howl as Allan Ginsberg.

Franco discusses the Beat Generation, Howl and his role in the upcoming film.
posted by ericb at 10:58 AM on July 26, 2010


Jesus, the guy has an assistant that spends every waking moment with him. He can't eat unless she makes it happen.

That is a luxury that few can afford. Everyone, stop being so hard on yourselves. I'm sure if you had the resources, you could achieve similar results.

I'm not being hard on Franco. Most people in his position (primarily actors) do not work this hard. Kudos to him.
posted by purephase at 10:59 AM on July 26, 2010


You could say the same thing of someone working toward a PhD in Nuclear Engineering. Ah, but it's so much more fun to be shitty about literature! Fuckin' books, just read 'em amirite?

Right. Because it's not like you have to be in a lab for hours and hours or in a specific place when you're working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering. And you're definitely not working with hazardous materials. You can just take your little lab and and everything with you on the plane to LA or Maui or NYC or your dorm room. If you need something specific from Berkeley, say, you can have someone mail the materials you need to you by FedEx because it wouldn't be dangerous or unwieldy. So obviously, yes, it's just me being shitty about books because they are oh so heavy to take with somewhere and nobody invented the internet oh my. Because nuclear engineering is just about sitting at a wooden desk solving problems and the most you could need is a chalkboard and chalk and they sell that at Wal-Mart. He could obviously do that on the plane. Or set up a lab in his mom's garage and warn the neighbors to not come by without biohazard suits. Easy peasy.
posted by anniecat at 10:59 AM on July 26, 2010




Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be James Franco. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad....
posted by steef at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2010


I'm Twenty Fucking Five. Realistically speaking, I am just starting and I've done a whole lot of things - I've written two books, an ongoing web-series, a published cartoonist and short fiction author (and been PAID to do these things), Creative director for a world-wide arts franchise, learned how to cook at a high level, how to garden and been all around Europe, lot like 30 pounds and taught myself another language (kinda) and formally impossible stuff like being social and able to go outside.

Sorry, but unless you can get the Dalai Lama to be your BFF, you'll never be Aleksey Vayner.
posted by anniecat at 11:02 AM on July 26, 2010


Right. Because it's not like you have to be in a lab for hours and hours or in a specific place when you're working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering. And you're definitely not working with hazardous materials.

Um but you weren't talking about the comparative logistics of the requisite materials, you said that because he's getting degrees in humanities, he can just shit out some poorly-thought fluff and get someone to proofread it for him because (implied) humanities aren't real work.

So, yeah, you're going to upset some people.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:04 AM on July 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Because it's not like you have to be in a lab for hours and hours or in a specific place when you're working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering.

Does anyone else have the image in their head of James Franco knocking on the door of the nearest research lab of whatever city he happens to be in? Quickly and studiously calibrating the equipment, bookbag and scrawled notebook in hand, "Ah yes, yes, it balances," giving a quick thank you to the director and walking right back onto the set of Howl? Because I totally can see that happening.
posted by geoff. at 11:05 AM on July 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


I've heard that Hitler kept busy as well.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:18 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've heard that Hitler kept busy as well.

Yeah but he was pretty bad at most things.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:22 AM on July 26, 2010


What I really wanted to know, that wasn't addressed in the article at all, was why he's doing so many master's programs that are more or less the same thing? It makes no sense except as an attention seeking maneuver. Surely NYU would have been glad to let him take writing classes at Columbia while getting his filmmaking degree (or the other way around). But why get 3 MFA's in writing, two of them in fiction writing?
posted by hydropsyche at 11:24 AM on July 26, 2010


My survival method so far as been to cultivate a persona of idle hedonism.

That's what I do, so people won't HATE me. My default answer any time anyone pulls the "how do you do THAT MUCH STUFF?" question is "I'm not big on sleeping" or something equally flip. The truth of the matter is that I am insanely productive during my productive phases and equally UNproductive during my "switch off" periods. For example, I've had to set limits on weekend computer use, otherwise I don't get other stuff that isn't computer-related done. My boyfriend says I am "Amish on weekends." This is how you pull off being a housedomesticpartner + running your own company and associated businesses + writing books + etc.

(Well, that and summer interns help, but I do fine the other 3/4 of the year without them)

I'm constantly amazed how much time people waste on what seem to be boring or pointless things...but then again, those are the things THEY like to do, so I assume they don't find them boring in the same way I do. I hate clothes shopping, I'm not super-fond of going out drinking (maybe once a week, if that), I won't even leave the house if I don't HAVE to... and that gives me a lot of time to squeeze other stuff in. What I consider "fun," most other people would consider "work." And so it makes it seem like I'm that much more accomplished than I really am...

The key is to find out what makes you happy, helps you earn a living and helps you have a LIFE. Anything else is window dressing.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:40 AM on July 26, 2010


I, for one, cannot wait to hear his hip hop album . . . .
posted by barrett caulk at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sounds like (hypo) mania to me. His adrenal gland must LOOOVE him.

Only, not.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


From my experience, it seems like most ambitious people see themselves as hopeless slackers. Really weird phenomenon.
posted by naju at 11:52 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bitter-girl.com , I was talking about that very thing with another, much more productive friend and she attributed her output to:

Having relaxing hobbies that produce things she can sell.

Said hobby allowing her to hire a part time assistant who is like the most efficient woman ever.
posted by The Whelk at 11:58 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not so good on my European history, but I think the patronage system was a big part of this.

I know a guy who is a master woodworker and, essentially, he has a patron. The woodworker does do some commission work for others, but he normally works on what he wants and his patron buys it from him when he's done, without question.

Mind, his "patron" is, generally speaking, getting incredible furniture which then can and often is re-sold, but most pieces end up in a private collection. I'm not privy to what the cost of the patronage is, but I imagine it's on the order of $100,000 a year.

Can you imagine how much richer society would be if there was a way to match prodigies to a patron? I mean if you had an endowment that could hand out a million a year you could support between 10 and 20 folks in a decent middle-class style and free them from worrying about rent, supplies, and the like.
posted by maxwelton at 11:58 AM on July 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's commie talk there maxwelton, we need the freedom to have all the shitty furniture we can stand.
posted by The Whelk at 12:03 PM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Still gonna die though.
posted by fullerine at 12:05 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you imagine how much richer society would be if there was a way to match prodigies to a patron?

I was kinda working on that for a while but have let it slide with other obligations...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:07 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


he can just shit out some poorly-thought fluff and get someone to proofread it for him because (implied) humanities aren't real work.

No, James Franco can shit out bad work because he's rich and famous, and doesn't have to really do the work himself.

If you were a university, would you reject James Franco's application or think you'd fail wealthy James Franco or look for instances in plagiarism, when James Franco can probably fund himself (and donate a little bit to the uni) and hand an assignment to a "tutor" to rewrite in a passable form? I'm pretty sure they would accept used toilet paper for him because the folks in the Development office would let the department head know that their endowment fund isn't doing so well this year. Franco doesn't have to go to a lab or be seen running experiments or doing anything that requires him to halt his movie/tv shooting schedule or get criticized by his peers. I'm betting he'll be an ABD if he even gets that far (or if some minion is willing to hold his hand through it) and Yale knows it and doesn't care. They're still smarting over the loss of Hermione to Brown. American universities adore movie stars and especially wealthy movie star alums, and they make concessions because it helps them in the long run.
posted by anniecat at 12:16 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I really wanted to know, that wasn't addressed in the article at all, was why he's doing so many master's programs that are more or less the same thing? It makes no sense except as an attention seeking maneuver. Surely NYU would have been glad to let him take writing classes at Columbia while getting his filmmaking degree (or the other way around). But why get 3 MFA's in writing, two of them in fiction writing?

That stood out to me as well. And I have to say that it reminded me a bit of people I knew in college who were Very Proud of Technically Quadruple Majoring even though the school only recognizes double majors and all this really means is that dude took a boatload of summer classes which is great if you can afford it but really doesn't make you smarter than me, 'kay? Though I have to say that this is totally not a fair judgment to put on Franco, who I hear is a nice guy.

I can only assume that he is taking whichever courses seem the most interesting and happen to mesh with his schedule, and intends to later shore them up into fewer than 3 MFAs.
posted by desuetude at 12:19 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, James Franco can shit out bad work because he's rich and famous, and doesn't have to really do the work himself.

Did you RTFA?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:21 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


[i]Franco doesn't have to go to a lab or be seen running experiments or doing anything that requires him to halt his movie/tv shooting schedule or get criticized by his peers.[/i]

And if he were running experiments in a lab he could get the undergrad interns and other grad students to do the grunt work.

Certainly universities love movie stars and high-profile students, but the Development Office doesn't supervise graduate admissions.
posted by desuetude at 12:24 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Argh, where's that edit window?
posted by desuetude at 12:24 PM on July 26, 2010


No, James Franco can shit out bad work because he's rich and famous, and doesn't have to really do the work himself.

Wow. That's uncalled for, especially in the context of the article itself, which makes it fairly clear that not only IS he doing all the work himself -- and by 'work,' I mean school- and career-related work, not "day to day living stuff, for which he has an assistant" -- but he seems to have always had this level of energy, at least according to his parents.

It's fine to be grumpy about the fact he has someone to do his boring, pick-up-the-laundry -type stuff, but it's really dismissive and somewhat counter to the point of the entire article to automatically assume that just because he has money and the benefit of good looks that he is completely bereft of intellect. It's like assuming the pretty girl in class can't read and enjoy a complex book because she is, alas, really, really pretty.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:33 PM on July 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


anniecat, you're veering into threadshitting territory. The article deals with the idea that he's either not doing the work himself or not really expected to try; start with the "3. Logistics" section if you want to skip over the rest.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:40 PM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


That son of a bitch! He said he was Track 3!
posted by COBRA! at 12:42 PM on July 26, 2010


That son of a bitch! He said he was Track 3!

Of course that's also where he demonstrates that he's simultaneously much smarter and much lazier than anyone gave him credit for.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:47 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right. Because it's not like you have to be in a lab for hours and hours or in a specific place when you're working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering.

What about commenting on metafilter? Can you do that while you're working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering? Because I'm thinking, like, you can't set that radioactive shit on your desk while you respond to a remark that really grinds your shorts, no, you just have to ignore it and let some slob in a "less demanding" field reply instead. That must really suck. I guess that's one reason why I'll never be a nuclear engineer.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:57 PM on July 26, 2010


Did you RTFA?

Yes, and it sounds just like those glowing profiles reporters ran about the Enron executives because having access to the executive and the company was more important than informing the public about what might be wrong with the company, except not as bad because it's about a guy who is an actor. It's like how Marissa Mayer isn't called weird or crazy in Vogue for arranging a zillion cupcakes on the floor of her house because every reporter knows you can catch more flies with honey. It's a more earnest version of Jeffrey Steingarten's profile in Vogue of Gwyneth Paltrow in which no maids or cooks or house cleaners are mentioned because Paltrow needs people to believe she's a brilliant chef who never needs help at her huge house or with her two children. But it's hardly a true portrait of what might be going on.

Imagine you write profiles and you're a journalist. They pay you peanuts and you get to hang around impressive, famous, rich people and visit their nice apartments and meet their friends. You want Franco as a friend? You want more access to stars who your boss wants you to profile so you can maybe get a gig on E! or a book deal? They won't come running to you if you interview people who don't say nice things about you. Most of his professors, friends, everyone, they wouldn't gain anything by burning their bridges with him. They all have relatives or friends who want to know someone like him for personal gain, be it the nephew who wants to be an actor or the development officer who knows a $2 million donation would give her a raise, or the drug dealer who wants to be the main supplier for all the stars on GH.

I mean he even admits that he finds Franco extremely charming:

I don’t know if this is true, here in the room that’s consuming itself, or if James Franco is just trying to paralyze me with his charm. But my heart melts a little anyway. I have the feeling I had once when I ran into Bill Clinton, randomly, and he shook my hand in a way that made me want to devote the rest of my life to hugging him.

Nobody's getting a raise or access to other stars by writing scathing profiles of James Franco or revealing that his girlfriend writes his papers or that. But they get bonus points if they make it sounds like he's the real deal and do a favor so the people who manage publicity for Franco call this reporter again when they want someone to write something nice about how great their other clients are when the time comes, like when Giselle Bunchen decides to major in Spanish literature at Harvard or Jennifer Aniston studies film at USC or how Hilary Duff goes to Stanford to study voice. And everyone's happy.
posted by anniecat at 12:58 PM on July 26, 2010 [7 favorites]



62 credits??????
posted by mollywas at 11:50 AM on July 26 [2 favorites +] [!]


Yeah, that jumped out at me, too. How on earth did he get permission to do that? I had to all but fellate a professor to take 22 one semester (21 was the limit at my school). The only way I can think of to do that would be to earn a whole bunch of credit taking CLEP/DANTES-type exams. I know I earned 9 credits that way with about a week and a half's worth of study and prep time, so 62 in a semester wouldn't be ridiculous. But 62 credits in one semester, all in the classroom? I call BS on that.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:58 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


anniecat, you're veering into threadshitting territory.

Yeah. I'll hop on outta here.
posted by anniecat at 12:59 PM on July 26, 2010


Nobody's getting a raise or access to other stars by writing scathing profiles of James Franco or revealing that his girlfriend writes his papers or that.

On what exactly are you basing the assumption that everyone involved in the article is lying through their teeth, including Franco's parents? The only reason to lend your interpretation credence is that he's a celebrity and therefore he can't possibly be good at stuff.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:05 PM on July 26, 2010


Right. Because it's not like you have to be in a lab for hours and hours or in a specific place when you're working on a PhD in Nuclear Engineering.

Actually you'd spend the bulk of your time behind a computer.
posted by atrazine at 1:19 PM on July 26, 2010


As a grad student, I have absolutely no idea why someone would want to do 4 degrees concurrently, at different schools in different cities. Seems a bit much.
posted by Premeditated Symmetry Breaking at 1:26 PM on July 26, 2010


Nobody's getting a raise or access to other stars by writing scathing profiles of James Franco or revealing that his girlfriend writes his papers or that.

Luckily you're here to reveal the truth! Thanks!
posted by inigo2 at 2:09 PM on July 26, 2010


He's dreamy.
posted by elder18 at 2:10 PM on July 26, 2010


I'm getting tired of some people on MeFi 'knee-jerkily' dismissing people because of their class/status, their Ivy League educations, their rise from being poor to being wealthy; from being obscure to being famous, etc. A recent example: the assumption that Stephen Fry is a 'pompous snob' when there is actually 'more-to-the-story.' *

WTF?

Not everyone who has achieved attention, fame, wealth is evil, unworthy, suspect and therefore should be ignored and put-down. Something about resentment, jealousy and 'grapes' comes to mind. Get over yourselves!

* -- As is also in Franco's case. He came from a humble background, was originally a college dropout before making his own way in the world to his current success.
posted by ericb at 2:59 PM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]




A clip from James Franco’s queer naked basketball short: 'The Feast of Stephen' [NSFW].
posted by ericb at 3:07 PM on July 26, 2010


I don't do much of note.
posted by everichon at 3:07 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm getting tired of some people on MeFi 'knee-jerkily' dismissing people because of their class/status, their Ivy League educations, their rise from being poor to being wealthy; from being obscure to being famous, etc. -- Jealousy is a terrible thing. When a person reads about someone who appears to be wildly successful and it's plain that their own life experiences just don't measure up, there are only two things to they can do to make themselves feel better. One is very, very difficult, and the other one is easy.

What you're seeing is the easy.
posted by crunchland at 3:58 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know. Franco's academic pursuits are tremendously admirable, and if he can keep up that kind of intellectual stimulation on a full time basis then good on him. But I wonder what it's all for. If he's got a burning need to express himself and does these things because he's trying to capture something nebulous and undefined, then I guess that's cool. But what if he just likes being really busy? Art has to come from somewhere, from experiences and emotions and personal history, but if all you do is take classes and create art there's not going to be much of an inner well to draw from. (It's like the cliché of the hungry young writer who becomes a successful novelist, but can only write about characters that are frustrated novelists.) Over time that's going to lead to repetition, boredom and burnout.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:04 PM on July 26, 2010


Franco's academic pursuits are tremendously admirable, and if he can keep up that kind of intellectual stimulation on a full time basis then good on him. But I wonder what it's all for.

Let's ask Brain May why he decided to pursue and complete the requirements for a PhD. in astrophysics later in life after his musical career with the super-rock-group 'Queen?'

Do we diminish the academic achievements of folks like Dolph Lundrgren (Master's Degree in Chemical Engineering, awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to M.I.T., but quit after two-weeks to start acting) and Kris Kristofferson (a Rhodes Scholar at Merton College, Oxford who was about to start as an English Literature professor at West Point when he was discovered for his songwriting and music composition skills), etc. due to the fact that they ended up being known more for their achievements in popular culture?
posted by ericb at 4:26 PM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think that people are intuitively reacting that 62 meaningful simultaneous credits is not possible even with arbitrary amount of life-assistance. Coming from science, simply transcribing the homework for 4 grad degrees at the same time would be pretty tough. The options left are that his studies are somehow discounted, the article is BS, or that he has major help with assignments.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:32 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's Franco's artistic achievements I was talking about, since his academic life seems to be geared towards developing his skills as an artist. It's like he's removed everything extraneous from his life and is totally focused on art: how to study it, how to make it, how to comment on it, and so on.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:36 PM on July 26, 2010


So after I read this thread I'm in a local bookstore digging the clearance section. The selection is pretty grim, but I do come across a big glossy B&W art book "Men Before Ten AM Too." Which was ..what it says on the tin - with an introduction by Jennifer Beals of all things. I flip it open, and bam, right there in full page-spread glory is the young Mr. Franco showing off what can only be called the Fight Club muscle group and shaving his armpits.

This leads me to two possible conclusions:

1) Mr. Franco is indeed Multiple Man and about to blow his Mutant cover.

2) Mr. Franco is attempting to make the rest of us irrelevant.

3) Buffy-style Jonathan spell
posted by The Whelk at 4:39 PM on July 26, 2010


I really hate successful people.
posted by doublehappy at 4:48 PM on July 26, 2010


He's obviously our generation's chuck norris.
posted by ejourdan at 5:08 PM on July 26, 2010


James Franco's hyperproductivity could be so much worse.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:35 PM on July 26, 2010


Resentment of the energetic and talented is what I thrive on. So you can see where I'm at right now.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:53 PM on July 26, 2010


Well, for what it's worth, if anyone wants to actually see the manic Mr. Franco in action, I can give some pretty sound advice: if you're in New York, just hang out at MoMa for long enough -- he's there all the time. And not in weird celebrity disguise, either. You can actually watch him taking notes or sketching something if it's crowded and you kind of, er ... linger ... over his shoulder a bit.

According to my girlfriend, who has had the chance to chat with him briefly, apparently the multiple grad degrees in essentially the same thing are because he's really mostly interested in studying with certain specific professors, and the rest of the classes are basically secondary to this kind of self-built curriculum, which just happens to be spread out across multiple institutions. Whether he finishes all of them once he feels like he's gotten what he wanted out of them is probably an open question.

So I have no particular opinion of the guy, but from what I've seen and heard, first or second hand, he's really doing all this himself. Other people aren't doing his homework for him or anything.
posted by Amanojaku at 6:05 PM on July 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


I agree that more intellectual pursuits are considered more extraordinary than they should be, but I don't think it's a given that there were more "Renaissance Men" in ye olden days.
The other thing is that there just wasn't that much to know Back then, people really could learn everything that was humanly known about science and math, for example. While also knowing all of the classics, etc. These days, that's obviously not possible.
posted by delmoi at 6:30 PM on July 26, 2010


Hark!: It looks as though there's been a new development in James Franco's General Hospital storyline.

Spoilers, natch, if you're a fan of GH, in which case, I'm terribly, terribly sorry for you.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:50 PM on July 26, 2010


Franco was recently accepted to the University of Texas at Houston's English doctoral program, to start this fall, but he deferred his admission for a year. I was wondering why. I wonder no more.

I can't find my keys. I blame the part of my brain that's storing this datum.
posted by waldo at 6:56 PM on July 26, 2010


I'm a fan of performance art (and had recently spent some time at MOMA for the Marina Abramovic exhibit, which James had been at) and of General Hospital (initially from years of family watching, and it was a moment of recognition early on for me and my future husband). And, so, I'm a fan of Mr. Franco. And last month, I was in NYC for work, so I slipped away to check out his art show. Which is on top of the Department of Corrections -- you have to pass through the metal detector, take the elevator to the top, get out, walk up a flight of stairs, and spin around until you can find the gallery. It's a huge show, covering many rooms; there are several films projected, and tvs, and a lot of random objects in the front; in the back there are cool photographs (not taken by franco) and sculptures and I don't see the sexuality as much (okay, he does wear a fake penis in one of the videos .... on his nose), but I was definitely walking around and thinking about the show, and thinking about Franco, and then worrying about getting back to work so I start to leave. And Franco's walking towards the gallery room I just left. And because i was thinking about his art, and the show, and General Hospital, I couldn't help it -- I smiled like I've known him all my life, and he stopped and listened to me babble like a fool about being a fan, nodded very politely, and shook my hand. I didn't realize I was such a babbling idiot until I left the building, and my god was he polite. Team Franco! (and don't tell me what happened on GH today, I'm behind on the DVR).
posted by armacy at 7:07 PM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


with an introduction by Jennifer Beals of all things.

The important question here is: does she eat lobsters?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:11 PM on July 26, 2010


He’s just flown back from Berlin this afternoon, he says, and he has a 35-page paper due tomorrow. Next weekend he has to shoot a student film, because in two weeks he’ll be flying out to Salt Lake City to start acting in a movie called 127 Hours, . He’s trying to nail down the details of an art show that will be based, somehow, on his recent performance on the soap opera General Hospital. Also, he has class every day, which—since he’s enrolled in four graduate programs at once—requires commuting among Brooklyn, Greenwich Village, Morningside Heights, and occasionally North Carolina.

....All we know is....he's called "The Stig."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 PM on July 26, 2010


Wow, this thread certainly feels different when you read it all the way through.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:56 PM on July 26, 2010


The secret is not trying too hard.

*wink*
posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:35 PM on July 26, 2010


Can James Franco possibly be for real? If he is, then—just logistically—how is all this possible?
How is it possible? Easy. James Franco has clearly never discovered MetaFilter.


I know this was meant as a joke, but i feel it pushing me toward ending my obsessive lurking. And James Franco is indirectly responsible? :(
posted by thedaniel at 2:05 AM on July 27, 2010


...holy crap I think I just realized who I want to play Buckaroo Banzai, Jr. when those fools in Hollywood finally recognize my genius and greenlight this damn script.
posted by Shepherd at 4:55 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, it's not like he's doing a PhD in nuclear physics. Or (yet) in anything else until he starts at Yale.

"Four graduate programs" = three MFA programs, two in the same subject, and a "low residency" poetry program. All of those programs require a student to pay the sticker price for tuition (so we're talking about $100K a year in tuition here), so there's no incentive for them to say no, and three of them could be done by submitting the same work in all of them. Really, I'd love to know if he is "writing' different work for any of them.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:18 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


(In other words, this says more about MFA programs than it says about "graduate school" in general.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:19 AM on July 27, 2010


The explanation about how there's a certain set of professors he wants to work with would make some small amount of cockeyed sense for the schools outside of the New York area... but all of the NYC schools he's enrolled in are members of a consortium that allows students from those schools to take classes from any of the other consortium schools. I don't know about Brooklyn College, but it's perfectly normal to trip across students from NYU/Columbia/the CUNY Graduate Center taking classes at each others' schools. Attending multiple NYC-area schools at once, on the other hand, is a stunt.

(I have an acquaintance who was in a... Faulkner(?) seminar with Franco at Brooklyn College. He said that Franco never spoke and spent most of his time in class sketching in his notepad. For whatever that's worth.)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:59 AM on July 27, 2010


Man, I feel cheated. I just finished my MFA at Columbia (theatre department) in the same building as the creative writing department (two floors up), took classes on the creative writing floor, and never even got to see him once. Boo!

(Whether that means our schedules didn't match up or he was just never there, I have no idea. But the theatre department is class-heavy, so I was there a LOT.)
posted by ilana at 2:44 PM on July 27, 2010


Perhaps it's just my mood right now, but I'm finding James Franco today inspiring instead of feeling bad about myself or wanting to discount his accomplishments.
posted by Nattie at 2:50 PM on July 27, 2010


He's on horse.
posted by NortonDC at 4:52 PM on August 1, 2010


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