Actor-filmmaker-poet-photographer James Franco says he is pulling back on his workload as he approaches his 40th birthday in April.
“Workaholicism is a huge thing, and one of the problems is that it’s really hard to see, because hard work is applauded in our culture,” Franco told ES Magazine of the London newspaper the Evening Standard. “As it should be, but I think there’s also a line, a very thin line, that I crossed over where there were diminishing returns on the amount of work I was putting in,” he says. “It was just ‘busy work’ after a while, an escape rather than discipline that was adding up to better work.”
With some overlap, the Oscar-nominated actor (“127 Hours”) has roles in 26 films and TV shows listed on IMDb.com for 2017 and 2018, along with 25 as producer or executive producer, nine as director and five (through 2019) as writer. These include the current HBO series “The Deuce,” in which he plays twin brothers and is an executive producer and one of the directors.
“I’ve certainly hit a wall this past year,” Franco told the magazine. “It’s not like I went out and had to buy a Ferrari or anything like that,” referring to the trope about men’s midlife crises. “It was more about reprioritizing and figuring out what was meaningful. I’ve been known as a guy that just did a lot of things. . . . So for me it was really about cutting back and focusing, and figuring out what I really wanted to spend my time on.”
That includes cutting down on teaching. “I was teaching at three or four schools,” he says, explaining that “a lot of those things [films] are my graduate students’ projects that I was helping get off the ground. I haven’t taught in over a year.” As for performing, “I really only acted two weeks this whole year,” in the Coen Brothers’ upcoming TV miniseries, ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.’ ”