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James Franco Talks About Spider-Man 3 and Playing Harry Osborn


James Franco Talks About Spider-Man 3 and Playing Harry Osborn

James Franco in Spider-Man 3.

© Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc/ Sony Entertainment

With Spider-Man 3, the time has finally come for Harry Osborn (James Franco) to get serious about seeking revenge for his father's death. The Spider-Man 3 storyline allows Franco the opportunity to really sink his teeth into the character of Harry, a son obsessed with making sure his father's murderer, Peter Parker, pays for his actions.

The Development of Harry Over the Three Spider-Man Films: “People bring up the fact that I auditioned for Peter Parker and I tested, and it was huge test. It must have been thousands of dollars just for this test. There were cranes and sets and they kept me waiting about six weeks. And then Tobey got the role and…I mean nobody believes when I say that I think he’s a perfect for the role. I think he has done a better job than I would do in that role. But after the test, after Tobey got it, I guess Sam [Raimi] and I got along well enough that he wanted me in the movie. And as far as I know he didn’t audition anybody else for Harry. He just called me up and asked me if I wanted to play that role.

Obviously it’s a smaller role, but they’ve given me a lot to do in that role. It’s one of the more dramatic parts. He goes through a lot in these films. And I’ve been very happy with it. You know, he’s almost a parallel to Peter. They both lose… I lose a father, he loses a father figure — his uncle. And then especially in this third one he’s avenging his uncle’s death, and I’m doing the same. I’m avenging my father’s death. They’ve given me a lot. The great thing about the character, too, is that he develops through all three films. His arc is not completed until this last film. And, so, in every movie he’s different. It’s the same path, but it’s further along in the development. It makes doing another movie more interesting.”

Finally Getting In on the Action: Franco knew his chance was coming so that made the wait a lot easier. “I kind of expected it. I mean, in the comic books Harry does take over for his father. And the way they ended part I, I assume that would happen. I actually thought it would happen in part 2 until I saw that he was just left hanging at the end. So, I was pretty sure that he would come in part 3.

You know, my feelings toward the movies have really changed. When I signed on to the first one I… Well, I love Sam and I love working with him, but I didn’t know what kind of movie it would be. I knew it was going to be a big blockbuster, but I didn’t realize the heart that he would put into it and the emphasis that he would put on the characters, in developing the characters and the story. And so in the beginning I might have, you know before I’d seen the first one, I might have been reluctant to be a superhero because it would seem cheesy. But after realizing what the movies were really like, I was happy to do it.”

The Physical Challenges Presented in Spider-Man 3: Franco was able to do a lot of his own stunts. “A lot of it was me. I think if you watch that aerial battle in the beginning, I filmed that for a month and a half and then we went—even after moving on from that scene we’d go back and shoot additionally shots,” explained Franco. “So I did a fair amount of that. Most of the computer-generated replicas of me are used for the wide shots, but all the stuff in close struggling with Peter is usually me. And then there’s some shots where I’m wearing a mask and they’d want to use a stuntman. I don’t know why. It’s not especially dangerous work, but I suppose I was shooting a different scene and they wanted to use a stuntman. I don’t know.”

Despite what you might think, Franco said doing wire work wasn’t that bad. “It’s not especially strenuous. It’s very time-consuming. The process involves a lot of setup and very little shooting. So I had to put on the suit, which takes about a half and hour. The camera crew has to setup for about an hour and then the stunt team has to rehearse whatever move we’re doing. Then they have to strap me in the wires and raise me up. Then everybody gets in line and coordinated and the fans go…the fans blowing air (laughter). They say ‘action!’ and then it’s about like 20 seconds or less. I do like one move, and then you cut, and then get down and do the whole process over again.

It takes a little athletic ability to appear that I’m balanced on the board. I mean you have to some balancing, even though you’re wired in and look good doing moves, I guess. But it’s not… You know there’s some action movies where you do multiple moves in a shot and over and over and over again, and that can be pretty exhausting. Or, I don’t know, run a lot. But this is not that. It’s really a case of working myself up for those 20 seconds and making sure that whenever I do those 20 seconds it matches what happened in the last 20 seconds, and keep that continuity of performance over the course of a month and a half.”

Behind the Scenes of the Old School Fist Fight Sequence: “That was a little different. That was a more traditional fight. I don’t think there was much—there was as little CG, but not nearly as much as the first fight. And, yeah, we choreographed that and we’d do a few more moves per shot. Tobey and I had to choreograph it before we shot it, and work out the punches and the misses and that kind of thing. But it was still different than any action movie I’ve done. I mean we took—I shot that for a month and a half as well. On a normal movie, I probably would have shot that for a week at most.

I guess they just take their time and make sure that everything is absolutely perfect on these movies. I think it’s a rule: the bigger the action scene, the more spectacular it is, the longer it takes to shoot, the more meticulous it is. Some of the most spectacular action scenes in movies are in these films, so they just take a long time. And they also have the budget to do it.

On Pineapple Express, it’s a comedy but it’s also an action movie and the action, part of the joke of it is the action is very real. You know you’re with a couple of goofballs and the situation becomes very serious, or at least the action does. And the budget on that is nothing compared to this one. I was going to say I got injured on that. It’s more dangerous to do low-budget action.”

Page 2: Prosthetics and Personal Growth

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