US actor-director James Franco has assured female film fans in Munich that despite his many film projects as a director, he will remain an actor to be seen on screen.
After a red-carpet reception at the Munich Film Festival on Monday, the 34-year-old who has been dubbed the "sexiest man living" assured a female filmgoer: "I won't stop acting. My acting career gives me the opportunity to work with people that I look up to."
The question came during the Filmfest's Q&A session with the general public where Franco was discussing his three films as director being screened in their European premieres: Idaho, My Own Private River, and Francophrenia.
The films represent the latest in Franco's projects working behind the camera and not in front of it.
"Acting is still mainly the way I make my living, so I'll keep on acting," he said.
Filmgoers in Munich were being treated to Franco's homage to US indie filmmaker Gus Van Sant's 1991 coming-of-age classic, My Own Private Idaho, a film which Franco said that he had been "obsessed" with as a teenager and which still holds him in its thrall.
Franco's Idaho is based on Van Sant's early script of the original and is shot as a grainy, 8-millimetre film with a shaky hand-held camera, very much like a personal home movie of the '70s.
"The home movie style is sort of like remembering the old days, when in fact, this material has never been seen before," Franco said, stressing that "it (Idaho) is not meant to compete with the original in any way."
One major difference is that in the original script, Van Sant had visualised Latino youths in the lead roles, something which Franco has now done.
My Own Private River is a tribute to the late actor Phoenix River, who had starred in the Van Sant film before dying of a drug overdose in 1993 at the age of 23. The 102-minute film was edited by Franco from about 30 hours of original outtakes from the Van Sant film.
"I asked Gus if I could do a cut (of the unused film footage), and if he didn't like it nobody would see it," Franco said. "He probably thought he would have to tell me he didn't like it. But ... he liked it."
Franco and Van Sant collaborated on an even longer film - 12 hours - called Endless Idaho. But the film has been kept from public viewing so far owing to opposition from Phoenix River's brother Joaquin.
"All this material showing Phoenix is still too painful for him (Joaquin) so we haven't released it."
The third film making its European debut, Francophrenia, is a film-within-a-film comprising TV footage of Franco's guest-star appearances on the American soap opera General Hospital.
"It has all the levels inter-acting ... it's somewhat comedic but also has a serious side, looking at the way we look at entertainment," Franco said.
For all his intellectual pursuits - including doctoral studies in literature at Yale and studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, among others - Franco defended the soap opera genre.
Pointing out that it was unusual for an established film actor, as in his case, appearing in the General Hospital soap opera, Franco said: "I reject this thinking of soap opera being something lower."There are a lot of things soap operas can do that mainstream filmmaking can't do."
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