James Franco on His Infamous Naked Basketball Movie


By the time James Franco arrived at last night’s party celebrating the release of Lapham’s Quarterly’s travel issue, he was over an hour late, and assistant editors who’d booked him were nearly hyperventilating. But when at last he took the stage, — appropriately dressed in jeans and a sweater with a whale on the back — he won over the small crowd of mostly book publishers with his readings from Don Quixote and Moby Dick. Speaking of the latter! Afterward, we asked the actor and student about the film he’d recently completed for NYU’s Graduate Film Program, a four-minute short based on the Anthony Hecht poem “The Feast of Stephen,” which Movieline called “blisteringly homoerotic.” Making the film was, Franco said, “fascinating, because so much, a lot of times, so much is just implied in poetry and not really explicitly said, so as a filmmaker, you have to make decisions on how to interpret the poems.” Like in the infamous naked teenage basketball scene? we asked. Was it difficult to get a bunch of actors to interpret that? Teenage actors? Franco laughed. “The way we did that was, we used real teenagers to play basketball clothed, and we advertised on the web and hired some people and we just shot them from the neck down. They were doubles, body doubles, dick doubles. I couldn’t shoot 16-year-olds naked. I’d get in trouble!”

Related: Read more on The Feast of Stephen in Jada Yuan’s interview with James Franco last month.