Today’s TV Addict Top 5: Questions with GENERAL HOSPITAL Star James Franco

In anticipation of James Franco’s return to GENERAL HOSPITAL this afternoon, the actor, director, writer, student, artist hyphenate took to the phones to spend a few minutes answering some burning questions. Starting with the big one on everybody’s mind, why daytime?

You don’t see many bonafide movie stars taking what quite frankly some might consider ‘a step backwards.” Why daytime?
James Franco: Well one of the reasons is kind of your reaction: That it would make people look twice at what I was doing and hopefully dislodge certain preconceptions. Where I guess one might expect an actor working in films to keep doing films and trying to do better films, bigger films or whatever… For me, it’s interesting to do the unexpected, and have people be a little confused and because of that confusion try and figure it out.

As an outside observer, one has always gotten the sense that daytime is considered Hollywood’s minor-league baseball equivalent. A good place to start your career, and then quickly move on from. Would you agree with that assessment?
In the minor leagues everybody is learning, the games are not as difficult and competition isn’t that high. Where your analogy falls flat is that it doesn’t really apply because it’s just as hard to act in daytime as it is in a mainstream film. In someways it’s actually more difficult. And while actors move on to films, for I don’t know…more exposure, glamour, or money — if you step back and look at it, it’s just a different form of entertainment. I don’t see a hierarchy between them.

What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve taken away from your daytime experience?
Working on GENERAL HOSPITAL has erased any notions that I’ve had about what is “valid entertainment.” It’s shown me that it’s all under the tent of entertainment, performance and acting… it’s just a different kind.

Do you feel like you’ve started a trend? Have any of your well-known actor friends said, “Hey, maybe I should give daytime a try!”
I don’t know if I’ve started a trend, but there are certainly a ton of film actors going into Soaps now. Eric Roberts, Julianne Moore and David Hasselhoff have all gone back. And since I’ve been on GENERAL HOSPITAL, we’ve had some incredible actors do guest spots.

Has your willingness to jump between daytime, primetime and the big screen lead to any interesting job offers that you might not have gotten before?
I don’t know if I’ve gotten any offers because of GENERAL HOSPITAL specifically, but I definitely owe something to the show. One has to learn a ton of material in daytime, and very quickly. So when I had to audition for a Danny Boyle movie [127 Hours], he gave me a two page monologue that I had to memorize right there at the audition and I have to give credit to GH for me being able to memorize it very quickly and perform. I got the role in part because of the show!

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  • NancyB

    Interesting Q&A. I applaud him for his answer to Question #1 – whereas so many people strive for bigger and better it's nice to see someone just want to do “different” or “unexpected”. Acting is acting. Whether he's acting in a soap opera or a movie. In fact, wouldn't it be a little harder since movies you get a gazillion takes and soap operas not so many?