Franco to play Ginsberg in "Howl," the film
Actor James Franco will portray the younger version of poet Allen Ginsberg in a film about creation and controversy surrounding the long poem Howl financed by the independent production company Werc Werk Works, Poets & Writers Magazine and Variety reported on Monday.
Academy Award winning documentary filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet) co-wrote the screenplay for the project and will direct the feature, which has the eponymous working title "Howl" and is slated to begin filming in New York City on March 16th.
The film will reportedly use a number of narrative techniques (including animation) to depict the creation of the poem and its centrality in Ginsberg's early work and the legacy of the "Beat" movement. The focus of the film, however, will be on the obscenity trial that Ginsberg and his publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books, faced following the publication of the poem in 1956.
Franco, who was born in 1978, is perhaps best known for his Golden Globe winning performance as James Dean in the 2001 Mark Rydell directed made-for-television bio-pic about the film icon. He was most recently seen alongside Seth Rogen in last year's comedy Pineapple Express and, more memorably, as Scott Smith--a lover of Harvey Milk (played by Oscar winner Sean Penn)--in Gus Van Sant's 2009 Academy Award nominated film Milk.
Franco's background and interest in writing is significant, if not widely known. His mother, Betsy Verne Franco, is a California based poet, author, and editor. He holds an undergraduate degree in English from UCLA, where he prepared his honors thesis under the supervision of the noted (Anywhere But Here) novelist and former Paris Review fiction editor Mona Simpson. He is currently enrolled in Columbia University's MFA Writing Program and in the filmmaking program of New York University's Tisch School for the Arts.