James Franco is known for mixing it up—for some time he was just as likely to appear in candid shots in a Columbia University classroom as he was to be shooting a part on General Hospital or appearing in a blockbuster like Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
“There’s this public persona that’s ‘James Franco’ that’s half my creation but half of it isn’t,” the Oscar-nominated actor told The Los Angeles Times. “Half of it’s what other people write about me or how they perceive me.”
Franco is also currently making a name for himself in the art industry, working on multimedia abstract pieces he says is “a way of using…an image that other people created and re-presenting it.”
Being creative in multiple arenas (he’s earned multiple MFA degrees in writing and film) has sometimes left Franco feeling stifled by Hollywood standards. “I remember getting ready to do the third Spiderman, just thinking, I don’t know if I can take it again,” he said. “If I can take all the work that doesn’t seem to have a payoff that is equal to the effort. As soon as I started branching out and pursuing my other interests I could say, ‘OK…it’s a place where more earnest kinds of exploration can happen.’”