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‘The Cabin in the Woods’ resident stoner: Fran Kranz - a profile

Known best to fans of the short-lived science fiction series Dollhouse, Fran Kranz may have to get used to a bigger fanbase after stealing the show as Marty the stoner in the sleeper hit The Cabin in the Woods.

Fran Kranz
Fran Kranz
Getty Images

Francis Elliott Kranz was born in July 13th, 1981 in Los Angeles, California. Though Fran, as he is affectionately called, began acting in the third grade, it wasn’t until his freshman year at LA’s Harvard-Westlake High School that he knew performing was his calling. While there, Fran won raves playing the lead in King Lear, and Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar (for which he dyed his hair blue).

Since casting agents were often knocking on the door of Fran’s theater director, the lad took full opportunity of this and, in 1998, was cast in his first television appearance on Frasier.

In the early aughties, after graduation, Fran enrolled at Yale University where he studied Humanities. While there, Fran was a featured performer in two improvisational comedy troupes: Suite 13 Sketch Comedy and The Exit Players. Always passionate about performing, Fran was interviewed by the Yale Herald in 2000, and said this about that: "The greatest part of acting is when you lose your sense of consciousness. The character just flows out of you. When you become aware of this, you snap out of that state. But it pumps me up just to know that I was once in that state of perfection. That is the essence of why I like to be on stage."

Though Yale was an entire nation away from LA, Fran still wanted to act in films. He decided he would try and do so during spring breaks and summer vacations. True to his ambitions, Fran commuted back to the west coast during school breaks, where he was cast in small roles in such films as Donnie Darko (2001), Training Day (2001), Orange County (2002), Matchstick Men (2003), and The Village (2004).

After graduating from Yale in 2004, Fran focused on acting – plying his trade on both stage and screen (the big one and the small one). His theater credits over the next half dozen years include Angels in America, Twelfth Knight, A Bright Room Called Day, Antony & Cleopatra, The Dining Room, and The Taming of the Shrew.

HIs film credits during this period were in low budget indies like The Night of the White Pants (2006), The TV Set (2006), Whirlygirl (2006), Rise: Blood Hunter (2007), Weiners (2008), Shades of Ray (2008), Don’t Fade Away (2010), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011). While these small roles surely provided experience, none offered Fran the breakthrough for which he longed.

Neither did TV appearances in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2008) or Private Practice (2008).

But then came Dollhouse, where Fran was cast as a regular named Topher Brink. The show only lasted two short seasons (a total of 27 episodes), but Fran was quite good in it, and quickly developed a growing fan base. Though he was disappointed over the show’s cancellation, Fran got something else from his Dollhouse experience: a friend in series creator Joss Whedon, who would soon cast him in that coveted breakout role.

The Cabin in the Woods, produced and co-written by Joss Whedon, would be shot in 2009 but, due to MGM’s bankruptcy, would be shelved for three years. Fran played Marty, one of five young people who dare to stay in the titular shack. As the stoner of the group, Marty offered comic relief, squinty-eyed observations, and (surprisingly) sage advice – he was the smartest of the bunch (which included Chris Hemsworth). When finally released in 2012, most critics and audiences agreed that the film was a brilliant deconstruction of all horror films, and that Fran was quite memorable in an already memorable movie.

Since then, Fran has played Bernard in Death of a Salesman on Broadway, while maintaining a residence in Los Angeles.

Up Next for Fran: Much Ado About Nothing (2012), Lust for Love (2012), and Dating Rules from My Future Self (2012).

And – as I mentioned in my review of The Cabin in the Woods – if anyone ever decides to make a biopic of Dennis Hopper … look no further, Fran is your man.

Go get ‘em, Fran! If Cabin in the Woods is any indication, we will soon be seeing a lot more of you on our Silver Screens.

For a very interesting interview with Fran about the making of The Cabin in the Woods – including detailed info on his characters "travel coffee mug" (if you've seen the film, you know of what I speak) – check out the video above.


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