In his 17 years in the film industry, actor/director/writer James Franco has inspired many a raised eyebrow and scratched head — this is the man who constructed a replica of the “Three’s Company” living room for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, after all. But Franco’s latest directorial effort, an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 1973 novel “Child of God,” will truly test the mettle of movie-goers.
The film follows the deeply troubled Lester Ballard, a violent social outcast whose depravity leads him to murder and necrophilia.
Despite the project’s controversial content, Franco assured MTV News’ Josh Horowitz, while at the Toronto International Film Festival, that he wasn’t trying to bait audiences into outraged responses.
“I don’t get turned on if somebody hates my movie, but I did go into this project knowing that it was an extreme subject matter,” Franco said. “It was an extreme way of talking about these themes that I’m talking about, but that’s why I make movies. That’s why I’m drawn to it. I could easily talk about loneliness in a much tamer way, imagination in a much tamer way, but then I feel like it would just be a movie that would fall in the middle somewhere. There’s nothing interesting about that to me.”
Franco knew he could draw an audience (albeit, a small one) if he crafted the film in a very particular manner.
“So as long as I made it in a responsible way, meaning don’t make the budget too big and figure out ways to make it good but manageable, I would be fine,” he said. “I would only need to appeal to a certain art-house audience, and then I could get to make the movie I want to make.”
To be sure, the lead role of Ballard would be a difficult one to pull off, but Franco is certain he found the right man for the job in relative newcomer Scott Haze.
“Also, let me just say, I know that some people will be turned off by the subject matter and some people will be fine watching this, but there’s one thing that nobody can deny, is that Scott Haze gives an incredible performance,” Franco enthused. “And I’ve been acting for 17 years, and I just know that this is great, and if I could deliver that and help be a part of crafting that, that is almost enough for me. We’ll always have that.”