James Franco on Not Getting a Tony Nomination and Why He Went After New York Times Critic Ben Brantley
Between posting eye-rolling Instagram photos of himself and simply being James Franco (and everything that comes with his often-knocked persona), James Franco has found himself facing a lot of press recently — and most of it hasn’t been good. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that Franco is doing a bit of damage control in his interview with The Daily Beast. He spoke about not being nominated for a Tony for his current performance in Broadway’s Of Mice and Men and his now-infamous decision to go after the New York Times critic who gave the production a less than favorable review.
Though it’s certainly not uncommon for Hollywood stars appearing on Broadway to be nominated for Tony Awards (for example, Tom Hanks was nominated last year for his role in Lucky Guy), the whims of nominating committee leave stars out in the cold more often than not. Franco didn’t get a nomination, but he says he feels compensated enough by the play’s success. He explains, “I felt like I was in good company being shunned with Ian McKellen, Denzel Washington, and Marisa Tomei. But to me, that attitude is so self-destructive. To have a play like Of Mice and Men, just a straight drama on Broadway, and to do as well as we’re doing—we broke the house record at the Longacre—is unheard of. Seven out of 10 Broadway plays don’t make their money back. So, to have the critics come in and, on top of those odds, hurt the production even more, it’s like…what do you want? Twenty Aladdins? Because that’s what you’re gonna get!”
On that topic of critics, Franco also addressed his initial online reaction to New York Times critic Ben Brantley‘s review of the play (which Franco quickly deleted). He expresses a modicum of remorse for his reaction, saying, “I really normally don’t read any reviews or any other stuff about me because it’s just not healthy, but I read that one because I was new to the theater and it’s a small community. You know what? Maybe I reacted too quickly. It just felt like a poorly written review; a poorly considered review. Also, when you do a movie like, say, Spider-Man, all the reviews are out. Andrew Garfield doesn’t have to go and play Spider-Man now that the reviews are out. All the work is done. But in theater, we have to go on stage the next day. So I felt a little bad that I was pulling in these biased reviews because of my celebrity, and felt a little bit of a need to stand up for the rest of my group—the production—and say, ‘We’re not going to stand for this.’ There was a part of me that just wanted to say, ‘Hey, shut the fuck up! We don’t care about you.’ But maybe I shouldn’t have done it… Too late now!”
Of course, it’s worth noting that despite Franco’s words Of Mice and Men received generally positive reviews from most critics and his co-star, Chris O’Dowd, was nominated for the Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play Tony Award (the production’s lighting designer, Japhy Weideman, was also nominated). But if the “us against the world” mentality makes him feel better, well, he might as well stick with it!