So I was minding my own business, walking around, looking at art when all of the sudden Jon said, “Hey, did you see James Franco? He’s here.”
Now I am not a crazy stalker person, I promise you, but I had to go take a look at the fine young man. So sue me.
Then my real feelings got the better of me. I know not everybody LOVED what he did on General Hospital, but I did. I thought his choice to come and try to do what daytime actors do, even if it was on a dare, was pretty brave. He’s a frickin’ movie star, people. He didn’t NEED to come on a soap! But he did. He worked HARD and made an interesting and intriguing character come to life. The very fact that he took it seriously brought a whole lot of people to soaps that might not have ever watched them before. He VALIDATED the medium with his presence, and that was just for starters.
I know soap fans will say, “Hey, we don’t need your validation, buddy!” but soap actors do. When I go on an audition, for example, I often hear, “Well, if you don’t make it in the rest of the business you can always go back to soaps!” That kind of arrogance is RAMPANT in show business. Usually I just shrug my shoulders and say “WHATEVER” but it’s a drag to always have to fight the STIGMA of having been an actor KILLING MYSELF to do good work on a daytime soap. 30 pages of NEW dialogue a day is no joke, my friends.
So I really appreciate it when someone like James Franco – a BIG movie star – comes along and says, “Hey, this is a trip. Let’s have some fun with this and explore it on an artistic level.” It means he GETS that there IS an artistic level. When HE says it, a lot of OTHER people in the business can start to admit, “Hey, yeah. I’ve always thought that, too.” It frees people to get off the Bitching Bus and the PooPoo Train and start to get behind what is secretly both the most difficult medium in all of entertainment, and the most looked down upon. Okay, maybe people look down on Court TV a little more, but not much.
So I felt compelled to walk up to Mr. Franco. I had to say it. “Hi. My name is Cady McClain and I used to work on All My Children. THANK YOU for what you did for daytime TV. I thought it was great.”
He was very nice. He took my handshake and kept it (he has very nice strong hands) and looked me straight in the eye. He was appreciative, generous, and kind. Big famous people don’t HAVE to be that way, you know. All too often (and understandably sometimes) they have so many people wanting something from them they can get all annoyed and assholic. But James Franco was NOT, believe you me. There is a deeply kind, thoughtful, and generous person in there.
Then I asked him, “Did you have fun?” and he nodded and smiled and said, “Yeah, I did.” See? HE HAD FUN DOING A SOAP. He wasn’t trying to make them look bad. I know as much as any daytime actor that working on soaps, can be really, really fun. The BEST part about it is actually laughing between scenes at how outrageous the whole thing is.
I also recalled how he also brought the art of soaps, the kitchness, the crazy big story plots, and magazine coverage into an art form: he made installations, did a film, made a whole “Soaps In Depth” magazine all about Franco. A genius idea, if you ask me, meant to explore our obsession with image and identity.
Personally, I can’t wait to see this movie he made, Francophrenia. I just LOVE the whole idea that he experimented with the experience of being an actor playing a character with his own name. I happen to LOVE performance art. If you don’t know that about me, well, check out some pix from my first play, Mona7 here:
or watch my little web character Suzy Fcking Homemaker and you will get it! Life is art and art is life. It’s all the same, no matter where you are making your work.