James Edward Franco (born April 19, 1978) is an American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, author, painter, performance artist and instructor at New York University. He left college in order to pursue acting and started off his career by making guest appearances on television series in the 1990s. Franco landed a lead part on the short-lived cult hit television program Freaks and Geeks and later achieved recognition for playing the titular character in the TV biographical film James Dean (2001), for which he was awarded a Golden Globe Award. He achieved international fame with his portrayals of Harry Osborn in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy.
Franco is critically acclaimed as an actor. He has done both dramatic and comedic work in projects and has appeared in an eclectic range of films since the 2000s, ranging from period to contemporary pieces, and from major Hollywood productions to less publicized indie films, as well as fantasy films to biopics and soap operas. Other notable films include Pineapple Express, a 2008 stoner comedy that earned him his second Golden Globes nomination; the 2008 Harvey Milk-biopic Milk; and Danny Boyle’s 2010 drama film 127 Hours, about real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston’s struggle to free his hand from a boulder. His performance in 127 Hours earned him nominations for many high-profile awards, including the Academy Awards, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards. In 2011, he starred opposite Andy Serkis in Rupert Wyatt’s successful science fiction film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise.
Franco has hosted Saturday Night Live twice as well as the 83rd Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway. He volunteers for the Art of Elysium charity. Franco currently teaches a class at New York University about transferring poetry to film.