Q&A: '127 Hours' star and Oscars host James Franco

James Franco

PARK CITY, Utah -- James Franco is aware he has a reputation.

In the past year, he's become known as the guy who makes the eccentric choices. The Best Actor Oscar nominee stars in "127 Hours" and has taken on a recurring role on the daytime soap opera "General Hospital" as a demented artist. He's signed on to co-host the Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway while taking classes at Yale and the Rhode Island School of Design.

His most recent endeavor is a multimedia project called "Three's Company: The Drama" in which he combines video and art to update the former sitcom starring John Ritter. It's on display at the Sundance Film Festival, where The Associated Press talked with Franco about his image, his career and the Academy Awards.

Q: Have you started thinking about co-hosting this year's Oscars?

A: No. It's gonna be my face and Anne's face right in the middle of everything. But what people don't see is the whole apparatus behind us that's been working on this project for like a year, so I trust them. I'm leaving it up to them.

I have no desire to make my mark on the hosting gig. ... I'm gonna do it as well as I can, but as far as writing my own lines and stuff like that, it's not where my artistic passions lie. I have no need to etch my lines into there.

I think they'll do a great job, and I feel fairly confident that I'll be able to deliver whatever they give me.

Q: Why did you take the "Three's Company" video/art project to Sundance?

A: "Three's Company: The Drama" is perfect for the New Frontier section, which is all about different kinds of presentations of film and video. It's kind of what I'm interested in. ... In some ways, "Three's Company" is a little dated, so when you watch reruns, you're giving it a lot of credit because you know that it was shot in the '70's or '80's. ... Jack (Tripper) had to pretend that he was gay to be able to live in that apartment with two women. Some of that was flat out, like, homophobic and not funny ... It also touches on the interaction of people and TV.

Q: You seem like someone who likes to take risks and not play it safe with your career. Why?

A: I don't see anything wrong in doing one thing and doing it well. That's great. But when I was only an actor, there was a ceiling on what I wanted to be able to express.

Q: What was it like when you tried to play it safe and just do mainstream movie roles?

A: It was death. I didn't want to act anymore. It was death doing the things I was supposed to be doing. I couldn't make those movies anymore.

I mean maybe nobody believes me, but I had the conversation with my manager: "If this is what it's gonna be, I can't do this anymore."

So it wasn't like the answer was, "Hey! Go do a bunch of crazy stuff!" I had to figure out how to change what I was doing. I had to figure out that I had to believe in my own taste.

Q: Are you worried now that you have a reputation of a guy who will take risks just because it's different?

A: Some people say, "Yeah, that guy will do anything. What's he going to do next?" But it doesn't mean that I don't believe in the projects that I'm doing. ... You can do the crazy projects. Just be smart about it.