EXCLUSIVE: What do you do if the you have the R-rated comedy hit of the summer? If you’re James Franco, you follow it up with…a new William Faulkner adaptation.
The star of “This Is The End” told The Times on Monday that he’s planning to tackle an adaptation of “The Sound and the Fury,” Faulkner’s 1929 stream-of-consciousness classic, with the movie aiming to shoot as early as the fall.
Franco said he will direct and star in the film, whose script he wrote with friend and Yale classmate Matt Rager. Franco recently premiered another Faulkner adaptation, “As I Lay Dying,” to solid reviews at the Cannes Film Festival; He wrote that with Rager too.
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Set in Jefferson, Miss., “Sound” tells the epic story of the Compson family, a group of Southern aristocrats who fall on hard times early in the 20th century. Franco will be playing an undisclosed role, but—“Mad Men” fans and all members of the female species, rejoice--he's hoping Jon Hamm will play the family patriarch, Mr. Compson. Franco said he thinks the actor will be able to do it, though he does have to iron out some scheduling issues.
Franco also hopes to cast his brother, the actor Dave Franco, as the suicidal Quentin Compson. Danny McBride, Franco's comedic nemesis in “This Is The End,” will likely also have a role in “Sound,” Franco said, replicating his Faulkner turn in “As I Lay Dying.”
The movie, which will be funded independently, has many pieces of financing in place. “We’re in pretty good shape, but there are a few more things that have to happen before we're good,” Franco said.
Notoriously difficult to film (like most Faulkner novels), “The Sound and The Fury” most famously made it to the screen in 1959 with a Martin Ritt-directed adaptation and Yul Brynner playing lead character Jason Compson.
Franco has a (slightly) more relaxed summer ahead of him after pulling out of “The Garden of Last Days,” the adaptation of the Andre Dubus III 9/11 novel he was set to direct.
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He’ll concentrate instead on his acting turn in Wim Wender’s new drama “Everything Will Be Fine,” which shoots this summer in Montreal; oversee the three features based on his story collection “Palo Alto” for which he’s recently launched a crowd-funding campaign on the site indiegogo (more on that in a separate post); and work to get “Sound and the Fury” up and running.
Regarding the circumstances surrounding “Garden,” which he was scheduled to begin filming later this month before pulling out last week, Franco said it was a matter of not getting the right team in place behind the camera.
The insurance company required he use a production crew he wasn’t comfortable with instead of his team of go-to crew members. “At some point it was just one person too many I didn’t know,” Franco said. “And I thought it was better not to have everyone go through these challenges and then no one’s happy because we didn’t make the movie we wanted to make anyway.”
As for his new film, Franco acknowledged it meant he and McBride will have had one of the more unusual project sequences in recent memory.
“For us it’s Faulkner, ‘This Is The End’ and then Faulkner again,” he said. Call it a Yoknapatawpha sandwich--which sounds just like something McBride’s “This Is The End” character would love to scarf down.
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