James Franco is a jack of many – if not all – trades, who is the very definition of a slashie.
Franco is an actor, director, poet, painter, professor, perennial student, performance artist, model, screenwriter, journalist (for The Huffington Post, among others) and activist, among other professions. And yes, he has a band, too. He’s even worked at McDonald’s, in case you’re doubting his street cred.
With Old Hollywood good looks, a killer smile and serious acting chops (he picked up a Golden Globe for his portrayal of doppelgänger James Dean, multiple awards, including the Critics' Choice Award, for his role as Scott Smith in Milk, and an Oscar nomination for 127 Hours), we can forgive some of his eye-roll moments (that 2011 Academy Awards hosting gig, his take on Cindy Sherman's "Untitled Film Stills" series, that poetry).
Whether you've been fawning over him since his career began on Paul Feig's cult late-1990s high school series, Freaks and Geeks, or find him pretentious and irritating, he's the kind of celebrity who speaks his mind - no matter how bizarre his train of thought.
We can't help but love that about him, even when he doesn't entirely make sense.
Here are five times James Franco was totally James Franco - honest, funny, charming, talented and a little kooky - and we loved it.
1. So, he's kind of self-obsessed...
"Sometimes I get a little sad, and I feel like being alone. Then I talk to my cat about it, and he reminds me I’m James Franco. Then we dance."
Franco isn't one to shy away from talking about himself - in fact he's written articles where two of his personas, straight James Franco and gay James Franco, are in conversation with one another. Self-love and self-obsession are high on his radar. Needless to say, he often refers to himself in the third person.
Weird, right? But then again, if we were James Franco, we'd probably be besotted with our own reflections as well. And he gets bonus points for keeping it real: we're pretty sure every celebrity has this much admiration for themselves, but most of them are too busy pretending to be "just like us..."
So, we ask ourselves the eternal question: "are we human or are we Franco?"
2. He's really good at laughing at himself...
Ugh, Oscar night, 2011. Not one of James Franco's career high-points - his hosting gig alongside Anne Hathaway was frequently referred to as a total bomb, not to mention everyone thought he was "under the influence."
Franco's tactic for explaining the situation? Blame the co-host: "I love her, but Anne Hathaway is so energetic, I think the Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway," then laugh it off. Obvs.
3. That smile...
Handsome, goofy, mischievous. It's no wonder James Franco's smile has a Tumblr account devoted to it.
4. He can actually act...
Whatever your thoughts on Franco's many sideline careers, he's doing pretty well at his original one: the man can act, whether he's trapped under a boulder in Utah (127 Hours), doing stoned in Pineapple Express or playing a Floridian drug dealer in Spring Breakers.
His role as James Dean in the 2001 TV film of the same name showcases what we love best about Franco: that winning combination of charm, sex appeal and vulnerability that has us rooting for his character every step of the way.
5. He certainly puts all of those careers to good use...
In October 2014, James Franco wrote an article for Vice gushing about what a huge fan of Stephen King book 11/22/63 he is.
"I wanted the rights to the book, but J. J. Abrams has them and is adapting the novel into an online miniseries. I love J. J. Abrams as much as the next person (though I bet there are some pretty ardent Lost fans that I’ll never match in fervor), but come on. That guy gets to do everything.
"I’ve been accused of being ubiquitous, of occupying too much cultural ground, of being a pop culture hog, like a guest at a wedding who sticks his dirty fingers in every cake and pie. Maybe that’s all true... Yes, he has the track record and know-how, so I understand how he got the rights to 11/22/63, but still, why do I get so much flack for doing it all? I ain’t the only one."
It turns out, penning a column about how desperate you are to do something really works, since Franco is now starring in the TV series.
Bonus? Franco's real-life classroom experience is helping him out in the role of time-travelling teacher Jake Epping. #saveJFK