Regardless of how you feel about how pretentious or try-hard he might be, you have to give credit for not being one to shy away from experimentation and pushing boundaries.
Now, the writer-director-actor-artist-whatever is tackling his most ambitious project to date, a film adaptation of William Faulkner's classic novel, As I Lay Dying. Not content to simply star in the film, he's also the one who adapted the script and directed it. As it turns out, this has been a dream of Franco's ever since his teenage years:
As I Lay Dying was a book that my father gave me and I can remember spending a weekend reading late into Friday night and Saturday night, when all of my friends were out partying. It was a difficult book back then. I just tried to understand every line of it. It stayed with me.
EW brings us our first look at Franco in the role of Darl Bundren, the novel's first narrator:
Did you notice I said "first" narrator? There's a reason for that, which is the same reason the novel, in an age in which Hollywood is reaping classic novels for scripts, has never been adapted for film: It has fifteen narrators. No, that wasn't a typo. There are fifteen narrators through fifty-nine chapters, making it one of the most complex stories ever written from a narrative perspective, and certainly not one that would lend itself well to cinematic adaptation. Because of this, Franco realized he'd have to make some sacrifices, as he told EW back in 2011 as he prepped for the film:
You want to capture the tone, but you canʼt work in exactly the same way. I don't believe it'll feel the same if you divide it as rigidly as the book, like titles that say 'Cash' and then you're with Cash. You can slip into the characters' heads and give them their inner voice for a while, but it has to be more fluid because movies just work differently than books. Movies, in some ways because they deal in images, are more concrete. I want to be loyal to the book — my approach is to always be loyal in a lot a ways — but in order to be loyal I will have to change some things for the movie.
Along with Franco, the film will also star as Darl's older brother Cash, along with (Anse), (Vernon), (Dewey), (Jewel), and (Addie).
As I Lay Dying will premiere at Cannes next month, so make sure to [[follow]] and we'll keep you updated on the latest from this ambitious project.