Ever since James Franco emerged in Hollywood, gay men around the country have been infatuated with the actor, who Salon.com named the sexiest man alive in 2009.
Franco’s first big hit happened in 2001 where he played the title role in the biopic film James Dean. But it was his role in the Spider Man franchise playing Harry Osborn, the son of the villainous Green Goblin, where he achieved worldwide fame.
Later it would be his role in the critically acclaimed biopic “Milk” when he truly became beloved by the LGBT community. In that movie he played political activist Harvey Milk’s boyfriend Scott Smith. Since then he’s gone on to play gay men twice more. Those movies include “Howl,” a biopic about 20th-century American poet, Allen Ginsberg and “The Broken Tower,” a biopic of American poet Hart Crane, who committed suicide.
But Franco’s interest in gay and lesbian film began long before his role in “Milk.” It dates back to the 1991 independent movie “My Own Private Idaho,” starring River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. That 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,” Franco 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 noted above Franco hasn’t shied away from gay roles.
“For a long time it 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.
One of his most recent projects include “Interior. Leather Bar.” (see page XXX) premiered last year at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. That project pushed the boundaries of sexuality.
“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  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” (see page XXX). Franco also co-directs and co-produces the film.
“Sometimes you don’t know all of the reasons why you want to do it, 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. Visit KinkDoc.com to learn more about that film.