When I first met James Franco, he was living in West Hollywood. His close friend, and roommate at the time, was a noted artist and we bought a painting of him that years later the actor wanted to buy back from us (still have it).
Franco had just come from Yale, he was just about to start his James Dean biopic for TV, and was just about to break it into the big time. He was super cool, and has been ever since, even after interviewing him and meeting him over the next decade as he jumped to superstardom, becoming "Spider-Man's" best friend, co-hosting the Oscars and most recently being the butt of tons of gay "in-the-closet" jokes at a raunchy Comedy Central roast.
And so, the speculation about his sexuality runs rampant. The interesting thing is that he has never said he wasn't bisexual, he has never said he was straight. He just never says.
“Sure, I’d tell you if I was,” Franco said when a journalist asked if he'd say he was bi. “I guess the reason I wouldn’t is because I’d be worried that it would hurt my career. I suppose that’s the reason one wouldn’t do that, right? But no, that wouldn’t be something that would deter me. I’m going to do projects that I want to do. Everyone thinks I’m a stoner, and some people think I’m gay because I’ve played these gay roles. That’s what people think, but it’s not true. I don’t smoke pot. I’m not gay. But on another level, there’s something in me that is able to play roles like that in a way that’s convincing.”
Not only is he an accomplished actor, but he's a director, screenwriter, producer, teacher and author. Interestingly, his roles often have blurred sexual preferences, like James Dean, Harvey Milk's lover in "Milk," iconic gay poet Allen Ginsburg and many other roles. He personally adapted gay poem "Herbert White"and in an indie film he played a young swimmer in love with and older man.
His favorite movie is "My Own Private Idaho," particularly struck with the River Phoenix role. He was in a homo-indie-sex-art film "Interior. Leather Bar." He deep-French kissed Will Forte on "Saturday Night Live" and studied queer studies at New York University.
He likes taking on gay roles, he told The Advocate in his "Tease" cover because, "It’s more interesting to me to play roles and relationships that haven’t been portrayed as often.”
He has had his share of girlfriends—three of note. But, the roast on Comedy Central was all about his being in the closet. He didn't mind.
"I was like, 'Great! Bring on the gay jokes!' because these aren’t insults at all," he told the Beast. "I don’t even care if people think I’m gay, so it was like, 'Awesome!' I mean, I wish I was. … I wish I was gay."
He told Entertainment Weekly a few years ago "Maybe I'm just gay." He elaborated: "It’s not something that bothers me in the slightest. It hasn’t gone away and I get asked about it from all sides. It’s partly my doing and partly not my doing.”
He sums up his career:
"I mean, I've played a gay man who's living in the '60s and '70s, a gay man who we depicted in the '50s, and one being in the '20s. And those were all periods when to be gay, at least being gay in public, was much more difficult. Part of what I'm interested in is how these people who were living anti-normative lifestyles contended with opposition."
And now, his bromance movies have a special new dimension. Inevitably, in all of them, he's pretty cool no matter what.