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Oscar Nominee Trivia File: James Franco

James Franco is not only one of young Hollywood's favorite film stars, he's an artist, soap opera star, published author, student and much more. "Saturday Night Live" recently poked fun at Franco for his work ethic and inability to say "no" to a project.

For his role as mountain climber Aron Ralston in "12 Days," Franco earned his first Academy Award nomination.

Find out more about the talented James Franco!

James Franco Oscar Nominee Trivia File

Early Life

James was born in Palo Alto, Calif. on April 19, 1978 to Betsy Lou (Verne) and Douglas Eugene Franco. He has two younger brothers, Tom and Dave.

Surrounded by Artistic Women

James' mother is a poet, author and editor. His grandmother, Marjorie (Peterson) Franco, was a published author of young adult books, and his other grandmother, Mitzi (Levine) Verne owns the Verne Art Gallery, a prominent gallery in Cleveland.

Aptitude for Art

Franco has said painting was the ''outlet'' he needed in high school, when during he attended California State Summer School for the Arts. He continues to paint today, and in 2006 his paintings were on display at the Glü Gallery in Los Angeles.


In 1996, Franco graduated from high school, where he acted in plays. He then went to UCLA as an English major but dropped out in his freshman year to pursue acting. He took acting classes with Robert Carnegie at Playhouse West.

'Never Been Kissed'

This hilarious 1999 fish-out-of-water comedy starring Drew Barrymore was Franco's film debut, in which he played a friend of Guy, the most attractive and poplar kid in school.

'Freaks and Geeks'

His big break was in 1998 when cast as Daniel Desario in Paul Feig's "Freaks and Greeks" (produced by Judd Apatow). The show aired on NBC during 1999-2000 season, but was cancelled after only 12 episodes. Despite the quick cancellation, the show continues to have a cult following. Many other famous actors got their start on "Freaks and Geeks," including Jason Segal, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Busy Phillips and John Daley.<

'James Dean'

Of the 500 actors who auditioned, Franco was cast as James Dean in Warner Bros.' 2001 biopic based on the life of the legendary actor. The TV movie aired on TNT and won Franco a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie.

'City by the Sea'

Franco played Robert De Niro's son (Joey LaMarca), who is suspected of killing a cop in the 2002 crime drama based on a true story; the murder of James Brown in the mid '90s. The film also starred Eliza Dushku, Frances McDormand and William Forsythe.


Before being cast as Spider Man's best friend Harry Osborn, Franco was in talks with director Sam Raimi to play the web-shooting superhero. The film's success has led to two sequel; "Spider-Man 2" and "Spider-Man 3."
Watch James and Kristen Dunst discuss their characters' relationship in the movie ...


Franco earned his pilot's license and did most of his own stunts, playing a WWI fighter pilot in the 2006 film "Flyboys."
"What appealed to me about this, is it's a war film and everything is on the line," Franco told "The stakes are so high because of the situation, and so right off the bat it's a place of great drama. But with the people that I've played, and the character that I play in this film, they are people that have volunteered to be there."
Watch Franco discuss his role ...

'Pineapple Express'

James reunited with "Freaks and Geeks" pals Judd Apatow (producer) and Seth Rogen (co-star) to play marijuana dealer Evan Goldberg in this hilarious stoner comedy. Franco was nominated for a Golden Globe and an MTV Movie Award for his performance.
Watch Seth Rogen discuss Franco joining the movie...

Back to School

Franco re-enrolled at UCLA in the fall of 2006 and graduated in June 2008 with a concentration in creative writing. He then enrolled in Columbia University's Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Writing Program in fall 2008 — where TMZ caught him sleeping in class. While at Columbia, it's reported he also took classes at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for filmmaking, Brooklyn College for fiction writing and North Carolina's Warren Wilson College for poetry. In 2010 he received his MFA from Columbia. Franco is a Ph.D. student in English at Yale University.


Franco plays Harvey Milk's lover and confidante in Gus Van Sant's 2008 biopic "Milk." Franco won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male for his performance and was nominated for a MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss.
In this interview with Newsweek, Franco clears the air about the rumor about kissing Sean Penn for twelve hours.

'General Hospital'

The Golden Globe-winning actor surprised fans when he joined the cast of "General Hospital" for a short stint in 2009. Franco has explained in interviews that he's always loved the serial nature of soaps and is fascinated with the process. He plays bad boy "Franco," an obsessed artist, sociopath and serial killer.Franco poked fun at his career move, working on "General Hospital," when he hosted "SNL" in December 2009.

'Date Night'

The Fosters (played by Steve Carell and Tina Fey) steal the Tripplehorns' (played by Franco and Mila Kunis) dinner reservation in this 2010 comedy directed by Shawn Levy.
Here Mila and James discuss their role ...

'Eat Pray Love'

Franco plays Julia Roberts' rebound guy, David, with whom she has an emotional relationship with while finalizing her divorce in the movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling novel.
In May 2001, Franco explains his personal eat, pray and love ...

'127 Hours'

James is nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Actor among nominees Javier Bardem ("Biutful"), Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network"), Colin Firth ("The King's Speech") and Jeff Bridges ("True Grit").

Published Author

In 2010, Franco published his first book, a collection of short stories entitled "Palo Alto." It has met with mixed reviews.


James will not only attend the 83rd Academy Awards as a nominee, but will co-host with actress Anne Hathaway. Recently "SNL" impersonated Franco, poking fun at his inability to say no to a project.

Up Next

In 2011, James will be seen in the movies "Your Highness" (opposite Natalie Portman) and "Rise of the Apes." He is also expected to direct a film version of William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying."

'Sweet Bird of Youth'

This fall, Franco will star on Broadway with Nicole Kidman in the revival "Sweet Bird of Youth" by Tennessee Williams.

Breaking News: Franco Joins Twitter

James joined the world of Twitter today, February 18, 2011, telling his fans it's really him — no impersonators here.