James Franco doesn't shy away from challenging material, as both an actor and director. First, he adapted William Faulkner's, "As I Lay Dying" for the big screen, a book many people felt was unfilmable. Now, he's focused his talents on another Faulkner work, "The Sound and the Fury," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The movie offers many different obstacles for Franco, but the biggest might have been the mentally handicapped character of Benjy, which Franco takes on for the movie. But, as he told MTV News, Franco was always going to play that part.
"I don't think I really thought about anyone else," Franco said, "mainly because, I don't particularly like acting in my own movies, but if I do, it's one less actor I have to get on board, and I know that I'll be committed."
With a role as tough and sensitive as Benjy, Franco added that, "It would be a lot to ask another person to do this role."
Benjy is obviously a potentially sensitive characterization, but Franco wasn't worried about the "Tropic Thunder" rule when it comes to mentally challenged characters, and luckily had great source material to fall back on.
"What guided me was the book, there's a very clear description of the character in the book," Franco said.
He was also able to help put the audience in Benjy's shoes by filming those scenes a certain way, adding that, "The actual camerawork, framing, the editing style of my section really works with the character. You're not watching the character so much as the audience is inside the character."
Scott Haze's character Jason was also tough in a different way: he was such a bad person that it was hard to get people to relate to him.
"It's not like I Hollywodize my movies or anything, but I'm always thinking about, even if we have tough material, I don't want to turn the audience off," Franco said. "A character who's just so nasty all the time, you'd think would push an audience away, but in fact what Scott did that I realized helped was, even if we are not totally on board with the character and how abusive he is to his family, he has his own justification for it."
"The Sound and the Fury" debuted at TIFF, and will be released later in 2014.