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James Franco Addresses Gay Rumors in "Playboy"

“I had a close friend in school, and there were rumors that we were gay. These rumors were started by—who knows?—people who were jealous, people who had been picked on, girls who had been picked on. So they started these rumors. I like it now that people said I was gay. It’s kind of cool,” says James Franco when asked about the origins of speculation about his sexualityFranco sounds off on this topic and others in Playboy’s August Interview(issue on newsstands, online at, and on Friday, July 15, with the complete interview available at 

The actor opens up to Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello about co-hosting the Oscars, getting arrested during his teenage years, his simultaneous pursuit of multiple college degrees, answering his critics and why he is officially done with Twitter. Following are selected quotes from the interview:

On his roles as bisexual and homosexual characters, including in his upcoming film The Broken Tower“I have a film coming up that I directed about the poet Hart Crane [The Broken Tower], and I give a blow job in the movie…‘Straight’ and ‘gay’ are fairly recent phenomena…Between World War I and World War II, straight guys could have sex with other guys and still be perceived as straight as long as they acted masculine. Whether you were considered a ‘fairy’ or a ‘queer’ back then wasn’t based on sexual acts so much as outward behavior. Into the 1950s, 1960s and so on, the straight and gay thing came up based on your sexual partner. Because of those labels, you do it once and you’re gay, so you get fewer guys who are kind of in the middle zone. It sounds as though I’m advocating for an ambiguous zone or something, but I’m just interested in the way perception changes behavior.”

On his many academic and creative endeavors: “I’ve been perceived as this guy yelling, ‘Hey, look at me. I want attention.’ I’m not going to school to get articles written about me. I’m just going to school. I write. I make movies. I’m going to school. I hosted the Oscars. I take these projects seriously.”

On his initial response when approached about hosting the Oscars: “When they asked me to do it, I laughed and said, ‘How am I going to get out of this?’”

On hosting the Oscars with Anne Hathaway: “[The Oscars telecast] is hard to talk about because it’s like assigning blame. They told me they knew I wasn’t Chris Rock and that they had designed the show around me…For three or four weeks we shot the promos and the little film that played in the opening. In the last week, when we really started focusing on the script for the live show and did a run-through, I said to the producer, ‘I don’t know why you hired me, because you haven’t given me anything. I just don’t think this stuff’s going to be good.’”

On reactions to his hosting of the Oscars: “After the show everybody was so happy, and Bruce Cohen, the show’s producer, hugged me and said, ‘Steven Spielberg just told me it was the best Oscars ever!’ As far as having low energy or seeming as though I wasn’t into it or was too cool for it, I thought, Okay, Anne is going the enthusiastic route. I’ve been trained as an actor to respond to circumstances, to the people I’m working with, and not to force anything. So I thought I would be the straight man and she could be the other, and that’s how I was trying to do those lines. I felt kind of trapped in that material. I felt, This is not my boat, I’m just a passenger, but I’m going down and there’s no way out.”

On why he tweeted during the Oscars: “As a way to say, ‘Whatever you’re seeing and hearing, those are other people’s words. I’m lifting the curtain and you can see a little bit of what’s going on.’ It was cutting-edge. I was trying to do the best job I could. I didn’t try to sabotage the show. I didn’t get high. I went to the rehearsals I said I was going to. I played the lines as I thought they should be played.”

On why he closed his Twitter account: “Someone at an event asked, ‘Why is your Twitter account closed?’ I said, ‘Yeah, it’s over. I’m not on it anymore,’ and suddenly it became ‘James Franco declares social media is over.’ Which is like saying nobody’s going to talk on the telephone anymore.”

On his long-term relationship with actress AhnaO’Reilly: “It’s over. That lasted about four or five years. We’d been living together in L.A. and then came to New York to go to school for two years. Then I signed up for more school at Yale. I think that was it for her.”

On Your Highness, the film he starred in with Natalie Portman: “I didn’t write that movie. I was just doing my job. I think I’m fine in it. They knew there were problems with that movie a year ago. Just because it comes out after the Oscars, it’s like ‘Oh, here’s backlash.’ Well, you have the year’s best actress Oscar winner in it, so wouldn’t that boost ticket sales? And people want to blame me for that? It’s just ridiculous. There’s this feeling about me like, ‘He’s doing too many things. Let’s get him.’”

On his desire to be a part of the Twilight movie series: “I had my agent tell [director] Bill Condon that I’d’ be happy to do anything inBreaking Dawn, but that was because it was supposed to be part of a multimedia project at Yale. I was working with a Yale undergraduate who had written an autobiographical play about putting on a theatrical production of Twilight in which I was a character. So I was interested inTwilight because I was going to be part of that play. I thought what a great connection it would be if I were also involved with the realTwilight.”

On his upcoming film Rise of the Planet of the Apes“Here’s my guess: Critics will be out to kill this movie and blame me for it just because they are out to kill me. Last year people were pretty nice. This is the year when people are going to have fun going after me.”

On his 44 appearances on the TV soap series General Hospital“Generally, people think actors start on soaps, and if they can, they move up the ladder. Early in my career I auditioned for soaps and didn’t get on them. Until going on General Hospital, I was like, ‘Of course I’m not going to go on a soap, that lower form of entertainment.’ I don’t view it that way anymore; it’s all entertainment, just for different audiences.”

On the trouble he got in growing up: “I was arrested for a lot of petty crimes. It added up. I was a ward of the court and was put on probation. Finally, I’d had enough chances, but they gave me one final chance, and fortunately I didn’t get into any trouble after that. Otherwise I guess it could have been like Lindsay Lohan, when she’s on probation and then she’s accused of stealing a necklace, and it’s a kind of small thing that becomes a big thing.”

On when he lost his virginity: “In high school with my girlfriend. I think girls liked me, but I was awkward, shy and emotionally immature, so I didn’t have a ton of girlfriends. I had short-term relationships and always got dumped, I think because I was too slow for them.”

On why it’s a great thing to be dissed or underestimated: “Because if someone from Gawker or any of those blogs wants to say I’m ‘the superstudent’ or ‘the stoner student,’ it takes the edge off this public persona that others have created for me. I can just slip under the radar and do my work without being bothered. They will perceive you however they want to anyway.”

On bloggers who have written negative things about him: “People from these horrible blogs came to my book party for Palo Alto last year. Normally I don’t care, but it’s like your worst enemy showing up at your birthday party, like, ‘Why are you here? Get the f*ck out of my party.’ But it gave me a chance to see that a lot of the people writing for these blogs are just people my age who are in the same writing programs I was—or trying to get into those programs. So it was like, ‘Oh, so you’re just one of my classmates who doesn’t like me. That’s what this is all about?’”


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