The first exposure that I had to James Franco came in the Spiderman movie series. He went from serious to romantic, humorous to evil in the course of a few hours — back and forth, embodying the different moods of a person from one movie to another. I was quite impressed with him then and I was happy to see him in other movies.

I then read about him attending University. This is not entirely unusual as many actors go back to University to finish degrees if they leave early to pursue acting opportunities. They want to finish what they started. For Franco, however, one university was not enough and as of this writing he is involved in two different Ph.D programs — in two different states

Another thing that has really impressed me about Franco is the way he has moved along in his career as an artist. For the most part, actors who leave television for the so-called big screen do not ever return save for special guest appearances on occasion. This has not been the case for Franco, who in 2009 appeared for a number of episodes of the television soap opera General Hospital.

In the United States, soap opera acting seems to be taken seriously only a notch above pornography — the principal difference being that more people in soap opera acting go on to do other kinds of acting. It is therefore quite impressive that Franco has not appeared only a couple of times but rather has made four proper stays on the show, developing his character each stay for a number of episodes.

As if this were not all enough, he has had art on exhibit as well — a solo art show in New York focusing on the vast world of sexual confusion.

In short, he is an inspiration to artists everywhere because he tears apart all preconceived notions of what an artist is and does — he is in movies! Television shows! He even wrote a collection of short stories — and meanwhile he took more college credits than the average full time student takes while doing nothing but being in school. That is why I love James Franco. He makes you reconsider things when you are ready to say to yourself that you can’t possibly do something or that you are overwhelmed with how much you have on your plate and can’t possibly do any more.

8 Comments

  1. I’m disturbed by this story, Gordon. Why is Franco so strangely obsessed with gathering the same degrees? If he were an ordinary student, there’s no way he would be allowed to do simultaneous MFA or PhD programs. You pick one. You dedicate yourself to the school and your mastery and that’s it! You don’t keep hunting to add more MFAs and PhDs. He’s flakey!

    1. Interesting, David — I didn’t think of it that way. I thought of it more in a way of how he has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and the ability to learn from multiple schools at the same time. When I was at Rutgers I knew people who did simultaneous masters degrees in Library Science and other sciences because they were that passionate about wanting to know it all! It does seem odd to go cross country for an education, though!

      1. I definitely don’t think he’s “in residence” in any of those programs, and reading the article you linked, it said he’d been accepted to the PhD in English program at Yale — not that he was actually matriculated. I would think Yale would value their name more than his celebrity, and because of the massive competition to get into such a prestigious PhD program, I wouldn’t be surprised if his sudden interest in the Houston PhD program wasn’t as a result of a mandate from Yale: “You have to pick one school and you must be in residence. You may not do this on weekends or online.”

        When I was at Columbia, you could get a joint degree: An MFA in theatre and a JD and I know many doctors who get a PhD along with their MD — but these are always at the same school, or inter-affiliated programs. To pick competing programs in different parts of the country and then simultaneously enroll just doesn’t make sense. I can’t even imagine a scenario where it would be acceptable to be an MFA writing student at Columbia while also being an MFA film student at NYU. It doesn’t make sense on any level.

        1. I’m not sure I understand why the MFA writing and film wouldn’t work — aren’t writing and film making two sides of the same coin? Can you not have great passion for both and be an excellent student in both if your heart demands it?

          1. It’s a question of allegiances and available student slots. Why give away a slot to a student who shows no tether to your program and is, in fact, working against the success of your program in a competing program across town? Most MFA programs are incredibly intensive and exhausting. There’s no way to do them simultaneously and why one would want to duplicate the effort — unless there’s celebrity or living status involved — doesn’t make a lot of real sense.

          2. There are always exceptions, Gordon. SMILE! I planned to get a second MFA in film from UCLA several years after I had an MFA in theatre from Columbia. Everyone around me argued against me telling me I was silly and delusional. I saw it as a way to get a solid foothold in California. I was tempted by the offer of a free ride: tuition remission, graduate appointment and I’d be done in two years. When I found out the guy who was going to bring me in was retiring, I decided not to chance moving all the way out there and not having my guy in place. In the end, I made the right decision to stay in NYC.

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