James Franco Interview For Danny Boyle’s Incredible Movie 127 Hours

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Here’s my interview with James Franco – a man who I’m sure will get some much deserved awards season love for his performance in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. In the movie Franco stars as real-life mountaineer Aron Ralston, the mountain climber who amputated his own arm to free himself from being trapped by a boulder. Ralston’s right forearm was pinned for nearly five days under a boulder, forcing him to use a dull knife to amputate the limb. He then scaled a 65-foot sheer wall and hiked out before running into a family that gave him water and food. It’s about as riveting and gut-wrenching as you could imagine! Check out what he had to say for himself below.

How did you prepare physically for this role?

James Franco: Aron is a very accomplished climber and has climbed all the peaks over 14 thousand feet in Colorado – so that was the kind of character I was playing, but in this film the character never really makes it to any peaks, he really just gets trapped in the canyon. I didn’t really have to learn how to climb that much. I did have to go to climbing gyms but I guess the main physical thing I did was that Danny wanted me to lose weight so I did go on a diet called the Science Diet, I’d recommend it if your trying to lose weight (laughs). They mail you food that has some flavour (laughs) and they give you the portions so you know what to eat and what not to eat.

The movie is gut wrenching, how about emotionally?

James Franco: As far as the emotional preparation we worked with Aron extensively before. We had Aron take us through every thing he went through while he was there, why he did it and what he was thinking. He even acted it out for us. I guess emotionally the most valuable thing was with Aron, the first time I met him in LA, he brought a tape that had all the videos he had made in that canyon and as far as I know, he doesn’t really show that to anyone except his family and friends who are addressed in those videos. That was gold for an actor, I got to see him in that situation, in the moment when he was in the middle of it, not knowing when or even if he was gonna get out. In hindsight you can say that was horrible but he got out, but when I saw him in those videos he had no idea he was gonna get out. It was incredibly powerful, because he made them in the last day or so, maybe even just an hour before he figured how he would get out. What I thought I was watching was a guy really accepting his own death, but not wallowing in self pity or anything, he upheld this front for everybody he was addressing. He seemed like he was making these videos for his family and friends so that they’d have these last images and messages from him. It was very powerful and it was one of the things that guided me through a lot of the performance.

What were the working conditions like? From the outside looking in it seems like it was a hard shoot?

James Franco: It was a very unique, very intense and very rewarding experience. We shot on a stage in Salt Lake City, where they had re-created a portion of the canyon that Aron was trapped. We also shot on the real location in Utah. On the set it wasn’t like a normal set, on a normal set you can take the walls out so you can get different shots and angles that you wouldn’t on a normal location. But this set didn’t work that way, it was confined and it didn’t really come apart. We shot in pretty much sequence, even though I didn’t get to shoot with Kate or Amber at the real location until the end because there was snow. I didn’t really see much of the crew for the first month to first month and a half because I was just in this canyon, nobody could really fit in there. It took a while to prepare me because I’d be physically deteriorating, or dirt, or blood and Aron started using his equipment as clothing and so it all took time to put on. So a lot of the times between set ups I’d stay in the canyon set and read my school work while they were setting up. Aside from it being a very unusual kind of movie and an unusual acting experience, it was a great experience just working with Danny, he really does love the search and the experimentation and finding new approaches to movie-making and he really did it throughout pre-production. We had meetings and he’d have new ideas, and then while we shot, I don’t even know if I was quite aware of it at the time but he was discovering how to make his movie while we were doing it. It was exciting. I felt like we were really discovering things together on this.

Look out for this in cinemas November 5th.


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