This is meant to be a compliment: James Franco, a man of a million faces and artistic side projects, was the perfect choice to play Christian Longo, the slippery, impossible-to-read killer at the center of the upcoming docudrama True Story.
The remarkable thing is that he never met Longo despite having the opportunity to do so, as he tells Yahoo Movies in the video above.
A true two-hander of a film that first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, True Story features Franco going up against his old pal Jonah Hill, who plays the disgraced journalist Michael Finkel. In a stranger-than-fiction tale based on actual events, Longo, who is accused of murdering his wife and two children, uses Finkel’s name as an alias while hiding out in Mexico. Finkel — out of work after being caught fabricating parts of a cover story for The New York Times Magazine — flies up to Oregon where Longo is being held to interview the alleged killer as he awaits and then eventually stands trial.
Finkel wrote a book about the experience and worked closely with Hill; he even stays in contact with Longo, having formed an unconventional bond with him. But while doing his own research for the film, Franco wanted no part of the man who was later convicted of murder.
“This is probably my seventh character that is based on a real person, and sometimes I found that you need to really reference a person and sometimes you go by the script,” Franco tells Yahoo Movies. “He’s sort of already getting enough attention as it is, and he seems like somebody who might thrive on attention, and I didn’t want to give him any more.”
True Story hits theaters on April 17.