Vulture Exclusive: James Franco Explains What He’s Doing on General Hospital, Sort Of

By
Photo: Patrick McMullan

On Friday night, James Franco traveled even farther north than Columbia's campus for Dia's Fall Gala at the Hispanic Society on 155th Street. He showed up halfway through cocktail hour with his grandmother. He yawned a lot. Vulture managed to get a few minutes with him, during which he told us a little about his upcoming guest roles on 30 Rock and General Hospital.

Where are you coming from?
I was filming 30 Rock today. It was very fun. I worked with Tina Fey a little bit over the summer on the movie Date Night and I'm assuming she liked the experience and that was why I was asked to do 30 Rock. I play myself but a very strange version. I don't think it has anything to do with who I actually am.

And you're also doing General Hospital. Why?
I really don't know the difference between [soap operas]. The one difference is that General Hospital has developed this whole organized-crime thread.

But why a soap opera at all?
Well ... I've got other ideas for my participation in this soap opera beyond just being in this soap opera. But it's been a blast so far. It was kind of mind-blowing. I've worked one day on it. It's one day of a few. But I think we packed seven episodes of my material in. They gave me a script for the day that was as thick as a film script and that's what we planned to shoot in a single day. No ad-libbing. If I needed it, they said they had a TelePrompTer, but the regulars didn't use it so I didn't want to use it, either. Anyway, I'm pretty good at remembering lines.

Is it different acting for film than it is for a daytime soap?
One big difference is that you do one take. They're going for one take because they have about four cameras for each setup. It's one take: You do the whole scene and then you're on to the next. That's three or four pages in a moment.

What's your character like? It's not another James Franco, is it?
I don't know how much they want you to reveal.

Do you wear an eye patch?
I haven't worn one yet.

Do you die?
I haven't died yet. But they only gave me the pages for the day that we shot. I don't know what's going to happen. It's all open.