We feel safe in declaring James Franco one of our national treasures. The enigmatic actor is celebrating his 35th birthday today (so close to 4/20, brah!), and while he is certainly a polarizing figure in many regards, there is little doubt that both Hollywood and the world in general are a better place thanks to his presence. So, in honor of his special day, we here at VH1 Celebrity figured now is as good a time as any to celebrate the 35 Most Awesome Things About James Franco.
1. Freaks And Geeks
We, along with the rest of the world, first learned of Franco’s charms when he portrayed one of the show’s “freaks,” Daniel Desario. His character might have come from the wrong side of the tracks, but his smile and sensitive soul seemed like a near-perfect match for Lindsay Weir(d).
2. He falls asleep in class
Franco isn’t a typical Hollywood dropout actor. He did post-graduate work at both NYU and Columbia and, well, Gawker snagged this picture of him back in 2009 fast asleep during one of his classes. Before you call him a slacker, ask yourself this question: Have YOU ever fallen asleep in class? Thought so! (We definitely have.)
3. His laugh in Pineapple Express
Franco’s portrayal of the epically stoned pot dealer Saul in Pineapple Express was one for the ages, especially when he laughed during this rerun of Good Times.
4. Daytona 500 Grand Marshall
Lest you think that Franco is some sort of high-falutin’ intellectual snob, he was the Grand Marshall of the Daytona 500 in February 2013, something even Ricky Bobby would be proud of. [Photo: Getty Images] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vo3INoJZLA
5. The self-amputation scene in 127 Hours
Franco earned a well-deserved Best Actor nomination at the 2011 Academy Awards for his work in Danny Boyle’s tremendous film. If you can stomach watching the scene above, you’ll understand why.
6. His unapologetic love for Justin Bieber
As witnessed in this video he posted to his YouTube channel (with his reported squeeze, Ashley Benson)…
7. …and here with his “Baby” lipdub.
8. “Somebody I Used To Know”
James Franco’s YouTube channel is filled with gems like this lipdub of Gotye’s Grammy winning song from 2012.
9. He’s not afraid to associate himself with porn stars
Most A-List celebrities, like most everyone else, watch the occasional piece of adult entertainment. However, most A-Listers would never be caught dead in a picture with a porn star. Franco, however, not only posed for this picture with porn star Princess Donna Dolore, he’s also reportedly making a documentary film about her life and her bondage website, Kink.com. [Photo: Splash News]
10. His grandma thinks you’re a p*ssy if you didn’t see Spring Breakers
Well, did you?
11. He smoked a doobie live on national television
He and Seth Rogen got in some hot water after blazing a jay during the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Franco and Rogen denied that the joint they smoked was real, but audience members sitting in the first few rows of the venue admitted they got a contact high.
12. He doesn’t really give a sh*t about interviews
We’ll admit that we feel the slightest bit bad for the MTV reporter who had to go back to his boss after this interview and tell them it was a total loss, but you have to give it up for Franco in this clip. Is he blazed? The world may never know.
13. He directed a documentary about SNL
Franco has hosted Saturday Night Live twice so far, but back in 2008, he got exclusive access to the show for an entire week and turned his footage into a documentary film called Saturday Night. The film played at both SXSW and the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010, but has not been seen since. Splitsider reports that the film is nearing a release date, so fingers crossed that it comes out soon!
14. This “Christmas Tree Lot” Sketch From a 2009 episode of SNL
Speaking of SNL, this sketch featuring Franco as a Christmas tree lot proprietor with an unusual attachment to his inventory is one of our favorite things that has appeared in the show in the last 5 years.
15. He won “Best Smile” in high school
Ironically, he’s not smiling in this picture. CLASSIC FRANCO.
16. Spraaang break forever, bitches.
We can’t believe we’ve gotten this far without yet mentioning Spring Breakers.
17. His stint on General Hospital
Franco’s 2009/2010 “so bad it’s good” turn as “Franco” on the famed soap opera was one of the best pieces of performance art we’ve seen in some time, and confirmed the actor’s reputation as an iconoclast.
18. His ability to tolerate Andy Serkis
Unpopular opinion alert! We can’t stand CGI actor Andy Serkis, who has been marketed as the virtuoso of the performance capture circuit, but is really just someone who directors would rather replace by computer animation whenever he takes the screen. We give Franco major props for not punching this clown in the schnoz. [Photo: CCD Blog]
19. His ability to tolerate Anne Hathaway
Franco’s stint as Oscars host in 2011 didn’t earn him many admirers, but we thought he did an excellent job goofing on the whole institution. Plus, he made Anne Hathaway seem less irritating, which is a very difficult task! [Photo: Getty Images]
20. He’s a very good whisperer.
(As you can tell from this … sssshhhhh! … supercut by Vulture. Sssssshhhh!)
21-25. He has no qualms kissing dudes.
Rumors have long swirled about Franco’s sexuality, but he doesn’t pay them any mind. He’s quite alright kissing Bill Hader…
22. …or David Letterman
23. …or Sean Penn
24. …or whoever this guy is from The Blind Spot
25. …or himself!!!
26. This Hills parody with Mila Kunis
In this clip, Franco spoofs the classic doofus Justin Bobby. Remember, you gotta eat rice with a fork!
27. This acting workshop he puts on with baby bro Dave Franco
James Franco really was the second coming of James Dean, right?
28. Speaking Of James Dean…
We were kidding in the caption above, but Franco’s portrayal of James Dean in the 2001 TV movie James Dean put him on Hollywood’s radar. He won a Golden Globe for his work on the picture, which is really worth digging up if you haven’t already seen it.
29. Your Highness
Actors who lack vanity are even rarer than those who have never gotten plastic surgery, and in the stoner fantasy comedy Your Highness, Franco attacks the tropes of the genre while putting his truly horrendous singing voice on display for the world to hear.
30. His repeated visits to see Marina Abramovic
We really mean it when we call James Franco a renaissance man. He struck up a friendship with performance artist Marina Abramovic during her famous 2011 exhibition at MOMA, The Artist Is Present, and now she is reportedly making a film about him.
31. He’s not ashamed of his klepto past.
Franco recently admitted to stealing perfume when he was a youngster to Jay Leno.
32. Tina Fey likes him.
Who are we to argue?
33. He was given a “D” in acting class.
We don’t think that he fell asleep during his acting class, but who knows? Either way, this is awesome.
34. He dated Marla Sokoloff for five years
Who doesn’t love Marla Sokoloff?
35. His epic speech in Spring Breakers
If we were in charge of the Academy Awards, his performance in this scene ALONE would earn him his very own Little Gold Man. (speech transcript courtesy of Vulture)
“This is the f*ckin’ American dream. This is my f*ckin’ dream, y’all!
All this sheeyit! Look at my sheeyit!
I got … I got SHORTS! Every f*ckin’ color.
I got designer T-shirts!
I got gold bullets. Motherf*ckin’ VAM-pires.
I got Scarface. On repeat. SCARFACE ON REPEAT. Constant, y’all!
I got Escape! Calvin Klein Escape! Mix it up with Calvin Klein Be. Smell nice? I SMELL NICE!
That ain’t a f*ckin’ bed; that’s a f*ckin’ art piece. My f*ckin’ spaceship! U.S.S. Enterprise on this shit. I go to different planets on this motherf*cker! Me and my f*ckin’ Franklins here, we take off. TAKE OFF!
Look at my sh*t. Look at my sh*t! I got my blue Kool-Aid.
I got my f*ckin’ NUN-CHUCKS.
I got shurikens; I got different flavors.
I got them sais. Look at that sh*t, I got sais. I got blades!
Look at my sheeyit! This ain’t nuttin’, I got ROOMS of this sh*t!
I got my dark tannin’ oil … lay out by the pool, put on my dark tanning oil …
I got machine guns … Look at this, look at this motherf*cker here! Look at this motherf*cker! Huh? A f*cking army up in this sh*t!”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JAMES FRANCO!
[Photos: Getty Images, Splash News]