Tuesday, June 22, 2004
SPIDER-MAN 2'S JAMES FRANCO
CULVER CITY, Calif. -- The Continuum today continues its series of question-and-answer interviews from the Spider-Man 2 press junket with James Franco, who returns as Harry Osborn.
Following is an edited transcription of a roundtable interview conducted on the Sony lot.
Question: How was it playing a character who was at least happy for a short time?
Franco: I don't know if he's such a happy character. Maybe the happiness you're talking about is when he thinks when the business is going to succeed. He's very invested in the business because it's his father's business, and his whole life he's been trying to please his father. Now that he's gone, maybe that is the one way he can still please the ghost of his father. There is a bit of hope there, but underlying that there is a deep sadness because no matter what he ever does, he'll still never be able to get that acceptance because his father is gone.
Question: Are you looking forward to developing this and taking it further in the third movie?
Franco: Am I looking forward to it? Yes. It's been a great experience. Sam (Raimi, director) is wonderful to work with, so I know what happens in the third one will be...
Question: The implication is that it's going to be the Green Goblin, the next generation.
Franco: That's what happens in the comics. But I don't think Sam will be predictable.
Question: What was it like when your character was drunk and slapped Tobey?
Franco: It's a little tricky. You try to make it real. But in films, you have to do it a number of times, so I don't think they wanted him with a red face.
Question: Sam Raimi said you brought a lot of good ideas to the table and he incorporated some of them. Can you tell us specifically what you wanted to do with the character?
Franco: I don't think we changed the script much. I was so pleased with the script that I called the last writer on the script, Alvin Sargent, and thanked him because I just thought it was so solid and he gave me so much to do. I really didn't want to change much. All we talked about and all I kind of talked about was reinforcing the arc of the character and how important the element of his father's love and acceptance is. Just bringing that about by making the hope and eagerness to succeed in the business bigger. Just really tying in the father more.
Question: Sam Raimi brings a relaxed atmosphere on the set. Can you talk about working with him.
Franco: Yeah, he brings a relaxed atmosphere. He's also very serious. In everything he does, there's kind of a nice mix. There's a dark feel, while also making things a bit comedic. As a director, he's very relaxed and very kind, but he takes the movie very seriously and somehow gets what he wants by being easy and relaxed. He's a funny guy.
Question: How did the success of the first Spider-Man movie affect you? Are you being treated differently and offered a lot more scripts now?
Franco: Yes. Back then, when that one came out, I had done James Dean and I got a lot of critical acclaim for that. But it was still a television movie. Then Spider-Man came out, and kind of the combination helped a lot. So, yeah, I was offered a lot more.
Question: How about your own status as a celebrity? Are you comfortable? Uncomfortable? Reluctant?
Franco: It hasn't changed much. The first time I was confronted with more than one person coming up to me, I was in D.C. and there was some junior high field trips and I was in the cafeteria and it kind of spread. But other than that, my life hasn't been that much different, except for a few kids on the street.
Question: Do a lot of people approach you because of Freaks and Geeks?
Franco: I do, actually. A lot of people love Freaks and Geeks -- that as much as anything.
Question: What do you think of the violence in the film? It seems up a notch from the first Spider-Man. Do you think it's appropriate for children?
Franco: I don't have children, so I'm not sure what to shield young kids from. Apart from one or two scenes, I didn't find anything too shocking. I think Sam does it in a way that it's on the edge of being frightening. He's not out to terrify anyone. I guess if I had a child, he'd be fine watching it.
Question: When you look ahead to Spider-Man 3, are you worried about putting on a big green costume?
Franco: Who knows that's going to happen in No. 3?
Question: Do you pay any attention to the box office?
Franco: Yes, to a certain extent. It is gratifying that people like the film. Of course it's nice. Why wouldn't you want people to go see it?
Sean Penn said to me once, "If you look at it and the numbers aren't there, just turn your back and move on." There's nothing you can do. You did your best. And that's how it goes.
So, yes and no. You just do the best you can. I do want to entertain people, so it does feel good when it's a big success. When it's not, just move on.
Question: Why do you feel Spider-Man's been such a phenomenon all over the world?
Franco: Well, I'm not up on how popular he was compared to others, but I assume he's a very popular character. Of course, there are a lot of comic-book films out now, with a lot more coming, but I think Spider-Man is the most successful. I think the secret is the story's the best. And Sam and Avi (Arad) and Laura (Ziskin) and the writers focused on the characters more.
And it's true. Before we did the first one, we spent weeks going through the characters and building up the scenes in between the action. I guess the point is, they really tried to bring more than just the action and the scenes in between the action are not filler. It's really touching -- and I think the second one even moreso. I think the second one is 10 times better. There's no doubt about. And it's because of the story. The action is better, too.
Question: How concerned were you with Tobey Maguire's back problem? How would you have felt if somebody else had played it?
Franco: I was concerned for his health, and I hoped he was OK. For all of us, I think it was really great that he came back. I don't think it would be as good if we had a replacement. So I was concerned, yeah, and I'm really glad he did it.
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