James Franco Gets Inspired by Cruising
BY Heath Daniels
August 22 2012 1:08 PM ET
Cruising is a remarkable time capsule of pre-AIDS gay life. For a film that was so controversial when it came out in 1980, do you think gay men look back at it now with some nostalgia?
Yes, totally. Pre-AIDS nostalgia has been dominating gay life in a lot of ways over the past five to 10 years. It’s starting to feel a bit uninspired to me, but I get it, and I’m not immune to the appeal.
Your films are known for their sexually explicit depictions of gay male relationships. How much should we expect to see of James Franco in this new film?
I saw that Perez Hilton posted something that made it sound like people would be seeing James’s penis or whatever … but that will not be happening. It’s an art film. He makes a lot of art films. He makes a lot of big studio films. This is one of his art films.
As you said, William Friedkin had to eliminate 40 minutes of sexually explicit footage to secure an R rating for Cruising. Do you anticipate any similar problems with James Franco’s Cruising?
We’ll have a couple of versions. One that is dirty and one that is dirtier. But neither ventures into seriously hard-core territory.
James is no stranger to playing gay roles in films like Milk, Howl, and The Broken Tower. Many people are speculating about why he seems so attracted to gay subject matter. Do you address that in James Franco’s Cruising?
Completely. When I initially talked to him about the project, I was very up-front that I was excited to be involved with him and to collaborate on something. But knowing the volume of work he has done in the past that is queer-related, I felt it was something we needed to address head on. We needed to weave that into the actual production which we have.
Do you think he worries that doing all these independent, experimental films will negatively impact his Hollywood career?
You’ll have to ask him, but I have a lot of respect for his courage in taking a pretty unorthodox path.
In 1980 many gay rights advocates claimed that Cruising was antigay because it featured gay men being brutally murdered and focused on the scandalous aspects of the S/M community. Do you anticipate any similar reactions to James Franco’s Cruising?
I anticipate some discussion about it and some people saying, “Who does he think he is to represent us?” But I think that’s all good.