James Franco didn't really get his arm crushed under a boulder while filming "127 Hours" with "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle... but at some points during production, it sure felt like he had.
Based on the real-life story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, who got pinned beneath a fallen rock in Utah and had to amputate his own arm with a pen knife to survive (we kid not), "127 Hours" pushed Franco to his physical limits on a daily basis... sometimes to the point where the actor himself couldn't tell whether he was acting or simply experiencing.
"You could write [in a screenplay] that he tries to tie the pulley and then he gets frustrated, you can do that moment, but actually trying to do [that while] being trapped, and doing it with my left hand, and doing that for like 15 minutes, I remember yelling out [the F-word] a couple of times," Franco told MTV News. "That was like the character and me blurring at that moment."
Indeed, the space inside the ravine where much of the film takes place was so cramped that only Franco and a cameraman could fit inside; Boyle had to wait outside, watching on a video monitor and using a microphone to communicate with them.
As a result, Franco was left to his own devices for much of the shoot. "We ended up doing these really long takes, and then we'd use little snatches of them in the film, which makes it feel really vibrant," said Boyle. "You only get bits of it, but [Franco] would have to go through the whole process of trying to rig that. To rig a pulley one-handed is really tough, and it wasn't like we could stop and say, 'OK, props, could you come and rig the pulley for James here while [he] relaxes?' He had to rig the pulley. There were a couple of times where it was really tough to do one-handed."
But despite the physical strain and solitude, Franco wouldn't have had it any other way. "For me, that really showed how parts of the way we approached this performance are authentic on a real level," he said. "[We're] blurring the line between acting and experiencing, giving yourself physical tasks and trying to really complete them in a way." With Franco already getting Oscar buzz ahead of the film's November 5 release, it's safe to say the approach was a success.
Are you excited to see "127 Hours" this weekend? Tell us in the comments!