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James Franco: Criminality catapulted my career

Published 31/10/2015

James Franco
James Franco

James Franco believes some people might consider him to be “a mad scientist gone off the rails” because of the professional decisions he’s made.

Actor James Franco thinks getting into a lot of trouble helped his career tremendously.

The 37-year-old Lovelace star grew up in Palo Alto, California, but even though the San Francisco Bay area town is quite an affluent community, James found himself a ward of the court after participating in nefarious activities as a youth.

"By the time I got to high school I didn't have a 'thing,' " he explained in a voice over during an animated short called California Inspires Me, a collaboration between Google Play and California Sunday Magazine. "So I ended up just getting into a lot of trouble.

"Like in 8th grade we started stealing cologne. We had like thirty bottles of cologne each in our lockers at school and then we could sell cologne at the dances."

However his illegal cologne peddling ended in a “big bust” by the police and he was arrested. James later landed himself in even more crisis with the law for drinking and graffiti related offences.

But throughout his years as a wild teen, he performed in plays at Palo Alto High School, an institution James graduated from in 1996. The Interview star’s experience being in trouble with cops made him realise he needed to make “big change” with his life, prompting him to study theatre at California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) in 1998.

James landed his first major career role in 1999 playing character Daniel Desario on hilarious TV series Freaks and Geeks.

And to this day he marvels at how swift his life transformed just 12 months after attending theatre school.

"All in one year everything changed," he noted. "I feel like L.A. or California as a whole contributed to that feeling that I could do what I wanted.”

James has starred in various movies and worked on countless projects outside of film, including writing stories, acting in Broadway play Of Mice and Men and running a theatre school of his own.

He enjoys expressing himself in multiple arenas, although he is aware some people might not understand his professional method.

"But maybe it looks like I'm just a mad scientist gone off the rails,” James laughed.

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