James Franco Was Too Confident to Star in The Master

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Once upon a time, when Joaquin Phoenix was still a fake-rapper with a hermit's beard, The Master was an untitled Scientology movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jeremy Renner. But there was another version of that lineup, it turns out — or, at least, there were some conversations between Paul Thomas Anderson and James Franco about the role of Freddie Quell. Today's installment of "What Might Have Been: Master Edition" comes from Franco himself, who told the following story at the Austin Film Festival:

“Paul Thomas Anderson was getting ready to make the Master and he called me and we met ... When he started talking about the role he said ‘Do you feel like you can do this?’ And I said ‘Yeah, totally. Look, I think you’re like the best American director. I feel confident. I know I can do this.’ And he said to me ‘But I want this to scare you. I want this role, going on this journey to scare you.’ And I was like ‘Scare?! I know I can do it. And so, incredible movie, needless to say I didn’t get the part. I guess I wasn’t scared enough or something, or whatever reason I didn’t get it.

And then he said some rude things about the Oscars (specifically: "the material they gave me was CRAP"). So he and Joaquin are not all that different.