Nuance meets brooding intensity in the form of Franco, who was the inspired choice to play a handsome loner in the 1999-2000 cult dramedy Freaks and Geeks. Although the series lacked longevity, the actor stuck around, further crystallizing his appeal in the teen flicks Never Been Kissed and Whatever It Takes (and sharing a now-defunct romance with the latter film's costar, Marla Sokoloff). Franco's star rose in the early 2000s when he earned an Emmy nod and a Golden Globe award for his deft channeling of a late legend in the 2001 TV biopic James Dean and won solid reviews as a whimpering rich kid in the Spider-Man films. Wary of becoming a teen idol, Franco purposefully took on diverse projects that didn't necessarily cast him as the hero (or even antihero) and branched out into writing and directing four films (including The Ape) in the mid-to-late 2000s. In unusual career maneuvering in 2009, he dove into the daytime-soap realm by starring in General Hospital, playing a reclusive and enigmatic artist. Off screen, he returned to college as an adult, earning his degree from the University of California at age 30 in 2008, then furthering his education with studies at Columbia University and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2010. Franco is also an artist whose work has been featured in gallery exhibits.
- Voted as the student with the "best smile" in high school.
- Started taking acting classes at UCLA to help overcome his shyness.
- Once worked at McDonald's, where he faked various accents while conversing with female customers.
- Learned to ride a motorcycle and play congas for his Golden Globe-winning performance in a made-for-TV biography of James Dean.
- Considered for the title role in Spider-Man, but instead won the part of Peter Parker's pal, Harry Osborn.
- Wrote and directed four independent films and one short subject in the mid-to-late 2000s.
- Returned to college as an adult, graduating from the University of California at age 30 in 2008.
- Appeared as himself on TV's 30 Rock in 2010, plunging into a faux romance with the character Jenna Maroney.
- Is an artist whose work has been featured in gallery exhibits.
- 2008, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2002, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Winner
- 2009, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Supporting Male: Winner
- 2002, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Nominee
- 2009, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Supporting Actor: Nominee
- 2009, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy: Nominee
- 2010, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee
- 2011, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Leading Actor: Nominee
- 2011, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Male Lead: Winner
- 2001, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nominee
- 2010, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee
- 2011, Emmy — Outstanding Special Class Program: Nominee
- 2002, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Actor in a Picture Made for Television: Winner
- 2016, Emmy — Outstanding Short Form Variety Series: Nominee
- 2011, Critics' Choice Movie Awards — Best Actor: Nominee
- 2009, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Acting Ensemble: Winner
- 2011, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama: Nominee
- Ahna O'Reilly — Ex-significant Other
- Daniel Verne — Grandfather
- Douglas Franco — Father
- Marla Sokoloff — Ex-significant Other
- Michael Verne — Uncle
- Betsy Franco — Mother
- Mitzie Verne — Grandmother
- Tom Franco — Brother
- Dave Franco — Brother
- University of California, Los Angeles, CA (BA in English, 2008); Columbia University, New York, NY (MFA, 2010); New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, New York, NY (MFA in Filmmaking, 2011); attends Yale University, New Haven, CT
- Birth Name: James Edward Franco
- Birth Place: Palo Alto, CA
- Profession: Actor, Director, Writer
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