James Franco was in town at the Toronto International Film Festival for the premiere of his film The Sound and the Fury. We went to the red carpet. Why? Because Franco has an enormous gay following, one that he has cultivated over the years.
Franco co-directed Interior. Leather Bar with Travis Mathews. The movie reimagines and expands on footage that was cut from Cruising, a 1980 film about a serial killer targeting gay men that stars Al Pacino (who, coincidentally, we interviewed a couple days ago). Franco also did a recut of Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho (he has apparently been obsessed with the film since an early age).
Both films are touchstones in the gay community and are part of the history of queer cinema. Franco also had a part in Van Sant’s movie Milk, a biopic based on the life of gay rights activist Harvey Milk.
And just a month ago, he wrapped shooting on Michael, a much anticipated film about Michael Glatze, a former gay activist and journalist who subsequently joined the ex-gay movement.
The list of Franco’s involvement with the gay community goes on and on. He is, by many accounts, a strong ally. He even tweeted a picture of his 35th birthday cake, which was decorated with a dildo and anal beads. What a guy.
I think he’s great. I even liked that whole bit of him dressing up as Marilyn Monroe while hosting the Oscars.
We have put in requests to interview him about his gay roles and movies many times and gotten nowhere. So, when we had the opportunity to interview him on the red carpet, we wanted to ask why he is drawn to gay roles and the gay community. Is it a fetish thing?
It didn’t go over so well.
He wasn’t that fun-loving guy tweeting dildo cake pictures. He was pissed that we showed up with a question about his body of work. He wanted us to talk about The Sound and the Fury. He wasn’t there as an actor or director; he was a publicity machine.
In an interview with the Toronto Star the next day, he said, “I don’t know why people are always asking me things that have nothing to do with the movie I’m making. All this bull[shit] slides right off. It has no meaning. I don’t even have to listen to it. It won’t ruin my sales. It won’t stop me from what I’m doing.”
We didn’t ask him if he is gay, as many people have. We don’t out people. We just wanted to explore his choice of gay roles.
According to the Star, our question was asked against the backdrop of “a chorus of high-pitched squeals from fans.” Our job isn’t to fill the air with high-pitched squeals. Our job is to ask questions that we think are pertinent.
We have no intention of ruining his sales. We will still see his movies. And we are not questioning if he loves us. We are just curious about how he loves us.