Last week, MTV News debuted James Franco’s latest musical endeavor, a video for the song “Can’t Say Goodbye” from his collaborative EP with fellow artist Terry O’Keefe. But that endeavor doesn’t mark Franco’s only recent musical pursuit. Just last month, a video for R.E.M.‘s “Blue,” helmed by Franco, seemed to drop out of nowhere onto the Internet.
Featuring Lindsay Lohan and moody scenes of Los Angeles, the video’s origins were revealed to us by Franco in an exclusive interview. The actor revealed how and why Lohan came to be a part of it, how his infamous Oscar hosting gig factored in, and he even gave us a quick update on the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” sequel.
MTV: How and why did the video for “Blue” come about and how did Lindsay Lohan get involved?
James Franco: The release of that video was very strange because we actually did that video like a year and a half ago. The Lindsay footage was actually shot the Saturday night before I hosted the Oscars. I’ve known Michael Stipe, and he’s actually become a pretty good friend. He asked me to be a part of their video project for their new album.
So it was around the time of the Oscars and I was supposed to do these two videos. And for the “Blue” video, the original concept was to make it about two sides of L.A., the idea of L.A. as a place where people’s dreams can come true, but also L.A. as a place that eats its young. It’s something I’ve been interested in a lot. I’ve done a few projects about actors that have died young — James Dean, River Phoenix and Brad Renfro. Lindsay and I had reconnected at that time. I had been writing some poems about the Chateau Marmont and one or two of the poems involved Lindsay. I said to [photographer] Terry [Richardson], ‘I have this text, and it would be great to have some images to go with it. We should do a project where you use the images you shot of me at the Chateau and images you shot of Lindsay at the Chateau and put them together with this text.’ And he said, ‘Yeah that’s cool, but let’s do one more shoot with you guys together.’ So I said, ‘All right,’ and we had planned it for the night before the Oscars.
That night before the Oscars we did a final run through of the show and I was just so depressed because I knew it was not good. So I told Terry, look I can’t do the shoot tonight, I’m tired, and I just can’t do the shoot with Lindsay. But she was already there at the Chateau! So he shot her, but I wasn’t actually there, I’ve known Lindsay for a while. It was at a moment where it seemed like she was doing OK. We’d have conversations on the phone, and she seemed like she was doing OK.
MTV: It seems like every few months there’s a setback for her.
Franco: I haven’t talked to her in a long time because it seemed like she was getting into some more trouble. I’ve tried to help her. I think one of the reasons it’s so hard is when she gets in trouble, she gets all this attention and I’m sure she gets book offers. Like she goes to jail, and instead of feeling like I really hit a low place, she’ll get a crazy offer for her jail memoir.
MTV: You’ve got a busy Sundance ahead again.
Franco: Yeah, it’ll be good to talk to you at Sundance. I’ve got two projects [“kink” and “Leather Bar”]. I’m really proud of that. I produced and directed and then I play Hugh Hefner in “Lovelace.” I still haven’t seen that one.
MTV: Are you going to be making an appearance in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”?
Franco: I was going to be a small part of the next one. There was a moment when Rupert Wyatt was going to direct the second one. A lot of the human characters that were in the first movie were dead in the sequel that Rupert was going to direct. But there was one scene, between Caesar and my character, maybe even just like on a video that was left behind, but then a lot of things happened, like [former Fox co-chairman] Tom Rothman who was a big part of the first movie, left. Now Rupert’s not a part of it so I don’t know. My guess is I won’t be in it. Nobody’s talked to me since Rupert left.
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