James Franco To Star In 'Planet Of The Apes' Prequel

'Rise of the Apes' begins filming this summer and hits theaters in June 2011.

Hot on the heels of the recent announcement that James Franco will return to "General Hospital" for another run, Variety reports that the "Pineapple Express" and "Spider-Man" alum has signed on to star in the "Planet of the Apes" prequel, "Rise of the Apes."

Franco reportedly beat out a "number of Hollywood's young elite actors for the coveted role" in the prequel, which is said to be an origin story set in present-day San Francisco.

According to the industry publication, the plot centers on the aftermath of man's experiments with genetic engineering that lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy. Franco is set to play a young, driven scientist who becomes a crucial figure in that war. The production is scheduled to begin filming July 5 and will be released June 24, 2011.

As one of the many successful "Freaks and Geeks" alums, Franco has made a slew of creative career choices of late. In 2008, he enrolled in Columbia University's MFA Writing Program and New York University's film school. In March of this year, it was announced Franco had been admitted into Yale's Ph.D. program in English. Acting-wise, his second run on "General Hospital" (the first of which was met with plenty of raised brows and questions) begins airing June 30. He returns to the soap as a creepy artist/ alleged murderer named Franco. He was recently seen in the Steve Carell/ Tina Fey comedy "Date Night." This summer, he appears in the movie "Eat Pray Love," starring Julia Roberts, and the upcoming Danny Boyle movie "127 Hours."

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