James Franco: Gay Films Haven’t Hurt Me

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Actor James Franco will be appearing at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival this weekend to accept the HBO Latin America Ally Award for this for his career accomplishments and support of the LGBT community.

“It’s a big honor,” Franco told SFGN. Franco’s interest with gay and lesbian film began with the 1991 independent movie “My Own Private Idaho,” starring River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. The film tells the story of two best friends living on the streets as male hustlers, who embark on a journey of self-discovery about their sexualities and their relationship.

“I have a lot of different connections to the LGBT community and I have a lot of aesthetic or artistic connections or reasons I am interested in queer cinema,” he said. “’My Own Private Idaho’ was a big influence on me in many ways. I watched it when I was in high school and since then.”

After high school Franco went on to study queer cinema at New York University, and as an actor appeared in the critically acclaimed movie “Milk” playing gay rights activist Harvey Milk’s boyfriend Scott Smith.

“For a long time was seen as something that was harmful to your career,” he said. “I find that it hasn’t hurt me at all, and even if it did hurt me, it wouldn’t deter me from doing the kinds of projects that I want to do.”

While it hasn’t kept the actor from getting the roles he’s wanted, it’s been reported that it may have hurt his sponsorship opportunities.

“Well, who knows what their reasons are, but some companies are maybe a little conservative so yeah,” he said.

His latest project “Interior. Leather Bar.” premiered earlier this year at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The movie will be screened at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.

Franco will appear at 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami.

“I’m just happy that this film that we’ve made seems to have a great life and I’m glad that people are responding to it,” he said. “Now that I’ve been doing movies for 16 years I find that the most exciting movies and most gratifying experiences are when you make films that get people talking, get people to think or have conversations.”

“Interior. Leather Bar.” is a docufiction film starring Franco as himself working on a film project, which reimagines and attempts to recreate the 40 minutes of deleted sexually explicit footage from the controversial 1980 film “Cruising.” Franco also co-directs and co-produces the film.

“Sometimes you don’t know all of the reasons why you want to do but you can feel that there is energy there. I guess that’s what I felt and I wanted to explore it,” he said.

“I have been drawn to the movie “Cruising” for a while. I knew it had a complicated history. When it was made, it was very controversial, and it made some unfortunate connections between gay lifestyle and murder. There were a lot of protests when the original film was made. But you know 30 years later I just felt like maybe it was time for it to be re-explored and that there were some things about the original movie that have become more valuable and their significance has since changed.”

Another sexually charged movie Franco has recently been involved with is "Kink," which tells the story of Kink.com, the world’s premier BDSM-porn site. Franco is only the producer on that film; he does not star in it. But sex films aren’t the only movies the 34-year-old actor has been up to this year. He’s currently starring in “Oz: The Great and Powerful” which tells the story of how the wizard first came to Oz. Franco plays the title character.

Visit www.mglff.com for more information about the film fest. Jason Parsley