James Franco says many of the decisions he's taken have been in an effort to make people like him.
The Hollywood star has pursued an academic life while making movies and been open about his love of poetry and novels. That hasn't always gone down well with people, with his critics claiming he is too worthy. It's not something James lets himself think about.
"I don't think I'm one or the other. I love the academic world but I also like being silly," he said. "When a serious image becomes a part of your life, it can be draining. I guess it comes from wanting people to like you."
James has spoofed himself in public many times - such as when he portrayed himself as a performance artist in US TV show General Hospital. He claims most of his choices are made because he wants to be popular, although he isn't sure they have worked out.
"I don't know," he told the British edition of Marie Claire magazine, when asked if he feels liked. "I've been involved in projects that people enjoyed, and I'm grateful. But now I feel free to do projects for more artistic reasons."
One of the things James was recently slated for was a poem he penned to mark US President Barack Obama's second term in office. He read it out on film and was widely ridiculed, with some claiming the missive was self-absorbed.
"Whatever. I think the reaction was knee-jerk. I just wrote a poem. It's not like I killed anybody. But that's how some reacted," he said.
James has starred in many releases about gay culture, such as 2008's Milk. It hasn't been a conscious decision on his part, although he's proud to have been involved in such important pieces.
"In some cases it's incidental. I didn't do Milk to play a gay character - it was a great movie by my favourite film-maker," he said. "The equality message doesn't just apply to gay culture, it applies to everyone. I try to highlight dynamics, engaging with them in a way that helps people look at them differently."
Milk was directed by Gus Van Sant and told the story of California's first openly-gay elected official Harvey Milk.
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