James Franco To Lead 'In Praise of Shadows'

'James Franco'What's one way you can ensure a 4.0 at NYU's directing program? Take a page out of James Franco's script and take the lead role in your professor's film. While I am kidding about such a move getting you good grades in film school, or that Franco would even need to do such a thing, at least the core of the story is true. According to Variety, Franco will be starring in the indie drama "In Praise of Shadows," which will be directed by his NYU professor, Jay Anania.

"Shadows" is the story of a man named William Vincent (Franco), who returns to New York after four years in exile from the city. The journey that brings him home is strange and curious, and his goal is a simple and romantic one: he wants to save the woman he loves from a crime syndicate. Almost sounds like a tale from Franco's "Spider-Man" universe, doesn't it?

The film begins shooting on June 15, right before the young actor heads to Ireland for David Gordon Green's "Your Highness," and is being made on a shoestring budget of less than $10 million. Franco will also be co-producing the film under his Rabbit Bandini Productions banner.

I'll stress again that I'm only joking about Franco's grades. In fact, Anania is full of praise for his student. "I was immediately struck by his inventiveness and talent," the professor said. Franco is currently doing double academic duty while pursuing his film career, studying film at NYU while working towards a Master's degree in English at Columbia. Once he finishes playing medieval times with Danny McBride he'll be back in New York for fall classes, turning in homework and living on caffeine. See, stars are just like us... well, except for hanging out with Danny McBride and Seth Rogen. None of us get to do that.