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When James Franco‘s short stint on General Hospital was announced, I figured it was something he was doing to challenge himself and set different acting boundaries. Like Lars Von Trier and friends created the Dogme 95 rules in part to establish a new filmmaking framework for themselves, acting on a soap opera would push Franco in unexpected ways.

I didn’t think that the whole thing might be part of a project akin to Casey Affleck’s documentary on Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘retirement’ and subsequent rapping act. But that’s what seems to be the case, if Franco’s friend Carter isn’t putting everyone on.
Movieline spoke to Carter, a guy who has collaborated with Franco on a variety of image-related artistic endeavors. The salient bit is this, with respect to Franco taking the soap gig:

It was an idea that I posed to him, and it’s tied to another film that he and I are working on now. It’s not specifically for another project, because I know that he’s really enjoying the challenge of working on a soap — it’s a very taxing job, and an interesting thing for him to be doing — but it does have to do with another film that he and I are working on.

The intended end result is a feature film that will be scripted, involve other actors and all the traditional stuff that features have. But Carter says it could be “pretty abstract, for a larger audience,” i.e., an audience outside the art crowd. Beyond that, details are sketchy to non-existent. He’s careful to emphasize that Franco isn’t just doing the General Hospital character for a laugh, that it is real work.

Franco’s own statements support that. He talked to Vulture about how much he had to shoot in one day — 65 pages or so!

I’ve worked one day on it. It’s one day of a few. But I think we packed seven episodes of my material in. They gave me a script for the day that was as thick as a film script and that’s what we planned to shoot in a single day. No ad-libbing. If I needed it, they said they had a TelePrompTer, but the regulars didn’t use it so I didn’t want to use it, either.

I thought Franco doing the soap was an awesome move, both in terms of being a funky out of the box career move and as an acting challenge. But now that we know it is part of something larger, however abstract that may be, I’m really curious. Franco is turning into one of my favorite young actors.

Read the whole Movieline interview for more details, and check out Carter’s previous collaboration with the actor, Erased James Franco, below.

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