A Californian native, James Franco was a good student who was great at math and landed an internship at Lockheed Martin. He acted in plays in high school, but also got in trouble for underage drinking, graffitiing, shoplifting and other criminal activity and wound up a ward of the court for a while. Franco studied theater at the CSSSA in 1998 and enrolled at UCLA as an English major, but dropped out after a year. He later returned and graduated in 2008 with a 3.5 GPA. Franco attended 5 different grad schools and has an MFA from Columbia University and has taught film classes at NYU, USC and UCLA. Franco took a job at McDonald’s to support himself while he took acting lessons at Playhouse West. He found small guest roles on tv and in ads, and his first break came in 1999 with Freaks and Geeks. Next came the lead in James Dean for which he won a Golden Globe, followed by Spider-Man in 2002 which catapulted him to international recognition. Franco produced and directed the documentary Saturday Night and has made several other short films. He is also a painter; his first exhibition took place in 2006. Franco has also exhibited a show of drawings, sculptures, and videos, and in 2010, he published a collection of short stories. He is the face of Gucci’s men’s fragrance. Franco is considered to be a sex symbol and has made it onto several ‘Hot’ lists, including Sexiest Man Living by Salon.com in 2009. He has a limited presence on social media but still has hundreds of thousands of followers. Franco is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs about 165 lbs.
James Franco’s Diet
Franco is naturally lean. He varies his diet based on his acting roles, which might mean loading up on veggies for The Deuce or hitting the protein hard like for Annapolis. He’ll eat literally anything to get into a role, and considering how varied his roles have been, that means he’ll eat essentially anything at all. While this may work for Franco, it’s best to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh, whole foods like vegetables, clean protein, and water.
- Variable Fat 30% 30%
- Variable Carb 50% 50%
- Variable Protein 50% 50%
From Vegetarian to Big Macs
Franco had been following a vegetarian diet for a year prior to taking a job at McDonald’s to support himself while trying to launch his acting career. His first acting gig was for Pizza Hut.
Say No to Farmed Food
Franco has spoken out against factory farmed animals. While he was once a vegetarian, he never followed a vegan which involves avoiding all animal products including eggs and dairy.
Eat Your Veggies
For more recent roles like the Disaster Artist and The Deuce, he loaded up on vegetables which provide lots of nutrients but not too many calories.
What to Eat
Anything For a Role
What to Avoid
Anything that doesn’t fit his character
Franco on his Annapolis Meal Plan
‘I recommend it if you need to lose weight.’
Franco on What he Likes About a Meal Delivery Service
‘They mail you food that has some flavor and they give you portions, and you know what to eat.’
Franco on Vices
I don’t consider weed to be any worse than having a beer.’
James Franco’s Fitness Routine
Train Like You Mean It
Franco took his role of a boxer seriously and trained for 6 months prior to filming Annapolis. His 5-minute action sequences for Spider-Man took more than a month to prepare for.
Franco worked with Wild Card Gym’s Macka Foley for 4 films. Franco has also trained with Liberian flyweight boxer Toy Stewart who is known for speed.
For 127 Hours, Franco worked with Australian personal trainer Damon Bell who had him doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight work.
Train Like a Champ
Franco was basically a blank slate when he began training in boxing, and his trainer was impressed at how he fast he picked it up.
Step By Step
Franco mastered boxing concepts in a way his trainer described as ‘fearless.’
By the time filming began, Franco could do 300 push-ups. He doesn’t do anything halfway.
A Sample James Franco Annapolis Routine
Do at least 3 circuits of following. Start with 10-15 reps, working your way up to 100+ for each exercise:
Franco on His Level of Commitment
‘I’m not going to be the guy who’s not pulling his weight.’
Franco on Getting Great Abs
‘If I’m working on a film, I’ll do sit-ups before I shoot, like 100 in the morning, or something.’
Franco on Authenticity in Fight Scenes
‘[His character] really develops his skills and his tenacity and his devotion.’
Franco’s Trainer On His Transformation
‘He was just a skinny kid when I got him, but then he was all cut up and could do 300 push-ups.’
Franco’s Trainer on His Work Ethic
‘If I could get half the fighters I train to work this hard, I might be in the Hall of Fame one day.’
James Franco’s Supplements
Franco doesn’t have much to say on the topic of supplements, so below are supplements that can benefit anyone following a similar diet.
For someone who is willing to go to extremes to get into character, a multivitamin is a must.
James Franco’s Lifestyle
No Rest for the Driven
Franco says downtime feels like a waste of time and that there’s always something else he thinks he should be doing.
It Runs in the Family
Franco’s brothers, Dave and Tom, are also actors. Dave had a recurring role in Scrubs while Tom appeared in The Disaster Artist with his bros.
The Ultimate Method Actor
To play the lead in James Dean, Franco went from being a non-smoker to smoking 2 packs a day. He also bleached his hair, learned to ride a motorcycle and play guitar and bongo drums. He even stopped seeing his family and girlfriend. For other roles, he has slept on the streets and gotten into fights with other actors.
Franco was criticized for attempting to meet a 17-year-old girl at her hotel room when he was 35. While not illegal, it was considered inappropriate due to the nearly 20-year age difference. Several other women have accused him of exploitive behavior, including actress Ally Sheedy, and he has been sued for sexually exploitive auditions.
Better Late Than Never
Franco held a Bar Mitzvah in 2015 when he was 37, a coming-of-age ceremony traditionally celebrated at age 13. It was organized by his pal Seth Rogan as a fundraiser for his Alzheimer’s charity, Hilarity for Charity.
Franco is involved with various charities, including Art of Elysium, Japanese tsunami relief, AIDS research, and other humanitarian causes.
Franco on Sleep
‘I don’t even like to sleep. I feel as if there’s too much to do.’
Franco on his Buck Teeth
‘My mom said I couldn’t be an actor if I didn’t get braces. So I got braces.’
Franco on Painting
‘I’ve actually been painting longer than I’ve been acting.’
Franco on his Image
‘I’ve decided that I can’t really control people’s perception of me. All I can do is decide on what I work on and how hard I work on it.’
Franco on Feeling Blue
‘Sometimes I get a little sad, and I feel like being alone. Then I talk to my cat about it, and he reminds me that I’m James Franco. Then we dance.’
Franco on His Sexuality
I’m gay in my art life and straight in my life.’
Franco on his Fashion Sense
‘My style is casual-chic? Casual-messy?’
Franco on his Sex Scandal
‘I learned my lesson.’
Franco on Giving Back
‘Aiding others is the key to life.’