When we chatted up the tireless James Franco at the book party for his Palo Alto, at The James in Soho, we naturally asked him about his favorite writers. He mentioned Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, a collection of short fiction dear to our heart, so we wondered which story he liked the best. He couldn’t remember any of the names of the stories, but said he was partial to “the one where he’s working at the hospital and the guy comes in with the knife sticking out of his head.” We knew that one by its actual name, which is “Emergency.”
He also mentioned that he’s absolutely taken with Faulkner, particularly the As I Lay Dying and “The Bear,” a short story. No surprise there; he’s getting his Ph.D in lit at Yale, after all. But perhaps we underestimated the extent of his devotion: Franco announced today that he will be directing an adaptation of As I Lay Dying — from his own screenplay! — according to a report from Showbiz 411.
And if its not enough to direct a work so solidly canonical, Franco is in talks with megaproducer Scott Rudin to direct an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, a book that many have suggested is laughably unfilmable. Harold Bloom, that New Haven-based lion of criticism, has called it the “ultimate dramatization of violence.”
This could be, up to this point, the most ambitious of all the projects Franco has taken on. We’ve been baffled by his ability to juggle wildly disparate and abstract projects, but nothing may ever top following an appearance on a daytime soap opera with an adaptation of a novel about scalping Native Americans.