James Franco on porn, telepathy and TV habits

Section
Celebrity,
Publish Date
Monday, 11 September 2017, 6:01PM

The Deuce is not the first time you've dealt with the porn world cinematically [King Cobra]. What's the fascination?

The porn coincidence is really just a coincidence.

The show illustrates the sex industry in 1970s New York in a very interesting way.

Listen, this is not a show that uses porn and the sex trade in a gratuitous way. It's an interesting story. Everybody involved in the show plays an integral part, including Mayor Lindsay who was running for President in 1971, who made a backroom deal with the Mafia to take the prostitution off the streets so it appeared as if he was cleaning up the streets. He said, "If you just put it inside, then you won't be bothered." The police force was paid off and massage parlours were built around Times Square and were a part of the big picture. So it goes from the mayor all the way down to the street level and that's really what we were interested in showing. Porn is really just a device to really examine market capitalism.

What was your introduction to porn?

Well, I grew up in pre-internet age and so I think a friend from Junior High popped a VCR in and my mind was blown. I was 13.

And now? What is your relationship to porn?

I will be honest, totally, totally honest. I have no judgment against what adults do and how they make money and I have no moral or ethical judgments about that at all. I have even done a documentary about a porn production company called Kink.com in San Francisco because I was fascinated by the people there. But I do not watch porn. It just does not put me in a good head space.

James Franco and Zoe Kazan in The Deuce.

You're playing twins in this series, which must have come with its own challenges. I know you're not a twin in real life but you do have a telepathic relationship with anyone?

I started working with my younger brother Dave. And yeah, we have discovered that there is a little bit of a Franco mind meld, I think. We share a lot of the same tastes. And even though he is seven years younger than I am, he just is much more stable and more discerning. He loves to say no to projects and he really slows me down. So maybe it's just me trying to just follow in his younger footsteps. But we certainly seem to be aligned.

What's one of the most influential books you've read?

Difficult Men, by Brett Martin.

What are you watching on TV lately?

I just watched The Keepers and The Handmaid's Tale. With both of those shows, the subject matter is so, so heavy and just seems to relevant and so poignant and I found myself - even after watching an episode - just being affected for a day and carrying that around. They are so well put-together and the subject matter was so poignant and disturbing.

James Franco in The Deuce.

Can you describe how you watch TV? How big is your TV? How comfy is your sofa? What snacks are you eating? Tell me all so I can get the complete Franco visual.

Well, I sit on the couch. I no longer watch television in bed, which is a new habit of mine. I do not fall asleep watching television. It leads to weird dreams and I wake up with a kind of emotional hangover so I make sure to turn off the television downstairs and go up to the bedroom. I do have a weird snack I picked up from Seattle. I was there for a day or two about a year ago, at that market where they catch the fish, Pike's. Last time I was there I caught a fish.

You caught a fish in a market?

What I mean by that is they threw the fish at me and I caught it. Then I went down the street and there was a store full of salmon jerky. It probably sounds disgusting to you and your readers, and to be honest, it smells disgusting but I really like it. So I usually have some salmon jerky and some chamomile tea. And I don't like binge-binge but I will watch a fair amount of mostly television these days. I watch a couple of episodes of something a night before I go to sleep.

What did you watch when you were a kid?

I watched, like Roseanne. I remember watching Full House and Family Ties and yeah, strange taste. I like to think it's improved.

I know you dropped out of college and worked in McDonald's so you could support yourself while you were trying to get work as an actor. What do you remember about those days?

Fortunately, I didn't work in McDonald's that long, I worked there for about two or three months and I worked the drive-through. And actors would come through, like Geena Davis and Kevin Connolly from Entourage. I would see them ordering their burgers and shakes or whatever and I would think, "All right. One day I will be on the other side." But then once that happened I never again ate at McDonald's.

Lowdown

The Deuce, On SoHo and Neon from September 11.