One of James Franco’s latest movies, I Am Michael premiered at the Sundance Movie Festival on January 29th and afterwards he sat down to talk about the movie and his sex scenes. While much of the focus was on I Am Michael, that was not the only movie featuring the actor to premier at Sundance. In fact, the other movie to debut at the festival was True Story, in which the actor plays an alleged murderer who then steals the identity of a journalist who is currently disgraced, played by Jonah Hill.
Of the two movies starring Franco, the movie with the bigger buzz was I Am Michael. The film also stars Zachary Quinto and Charlie Carver and is based on the story of Michael Glatze, a real life figure. Glatze is actually a former gay activist turned pastor who leaves behind his boyfriend to declare himself straight. Not only did Glatze renounce his own sexuality but he later deemed homosexuality as a sin. Much of the buzz that revolves around the film stems from two key components. First there is the issue of sexuality that tends to be a hot topic and one that Franco seems to address in a number of different works. The second reason for all the buzz, is the threesome between Quinto, Franco and Carver in the film.
Following the premier of I Am Michael, Franco sat down with Vulture to talk about the content of the film as well as his sex scenes, both from this movie as well as his scene from The Broken Tower. The actor and the movie’s director Justin Kelly spoke with Vulture about the meaning behind the film and other area’s that pertained to the actor himself.
One question that seemed particularly important, especially in relation to the premise of the movie itself was how the gay experience relates to Franco and why he is willing to not only explore gay themes but also portray a gay character. Of course the actor points out that sometimes the gay aspect is simply coincidental and other times it is really secondary to the overall story as in The Broken Tower or Howl. When he talks about his roles in Milk or Interior Leather Bar, then with these movies it allows him to bring the issues of rights to the mainstream. In fact Franco really wants the roles to defy labels and overall identity.
In the interview, Kelly was asked about what it was that he learned about Franco from working with him on the movie Milk. The director said that one thing he noticed was that the actor can very quickly snap into the character no matter what was happening or what had already happened. Kelly said that this was particularly important in filming I Am Michael because their schedule was very tight.
Of course the topic of sex scenes in both The Broken Tower and I Am Michael were brought up as well. In particular the difference between his scene with Michael Shannon that he directed versus his threesome with Quinto and Carver that was directed by a gay man with gay actors, in his newest movie. Franco believed that there was a major difference between the two scenes. As he points out, Shannon was actually uncomfortable with the sex scene and the two ended up meeting for a meal prior to the filming in an effort to get a measure of comfort. Once they were on set however, Franco says the nerves kicked back in and he actually had to pull his costar to him during the scene at one point. In the end though, he says that it does not matter whether it is a gay or straight sex scene, it is important to go all out and do the best one can. In fact for I Am Michael, he says it really was just him doing his job even if that does involve a threesome.
While the focus of the talk was on Franco and I am Michael, the sex scene within the movie has garnered attention and has fans eagerly anticipating the theatrical release. While the story is based on a real life figure and covers material that might seem controversial to some, the actor believes that they were ultimately able to tell the tale in a way that comes across as nonjudgmental while still telling the story.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo Credits: Cara Howe – Courtesy of Sundance Institute