As a charter member of Team Whedon, Fran Kranz has played a host of amiable misfit roles, including that of the clueless but ultimately clued-in hippie Marty in "The Cabin in the Woods." Currently, the L.A. native appears as Claudio in the director's low-budget adaptation of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," which is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD.
Kranz spoke with us from his home in Venice, California about his pop culture upbringing, including his place in history as the first person ever to dress as Jake Gyllenhaal for Halloween.
1. What was the first movie you saw? I honestly can't remember. I do know my dad showed my brother and I "Pink Flamingos" when I was in third grade, like very young. I know because I was born out in L.A., but lived in Washington, D.C. from the ages of 4 to 11. I must have been like nine years old when I watched this. I don't know if you know the film, but that's a form of child abuse. He's a big John Waters fan and I guess I am now, but "Pink Flamingos" and children just don't belong in a room together. Although I feel like John Waters would like the idea of that.
2. What movie makes you cry? I know "Top Gun" as a kid. I watched that movie a lot, like 10 times with friends when I was younger. And every time without fail when Duke died, I cried. Also "La Bamba," Ritchie Valens, when his brother finds out he was over the radio, when he's underneath the car. I'll never forget that. That kills me.
3. Who is the movie character you wish you could be? Luke Skywalker. I was obsessed with Luke Skywalker. In high school, I snuck into the student's store and made a student ID that said Luke Skywalker. Big "Star Wars" fan. Still am.
4. What do you eat/drink while watching a movie in the theater? It's so boring. I honestly, I feel like some old man. I just bring in a water bottle. I think if the movie's fun, I'll definitely do popcorn and Coke or something. But I feel like I've outgrown the days of mixing Junior Mints and popcorn.
5. What’s the TV show you never miss? "Game of Thrones" would be my number one show now. I can't miss it. I mean the next season can't come soon enough.
6. What TV show would you like to live in? I'd love to be in "The Simpsons." I just think it's like Springfield's a wonderful place … I've always thought of it like a real working democracy. Whenever they have those town hall meetings, like [with] Mayor Quimby, his voice is like equal to everyone else's. It's kind of this hilarious, egalitarian sort of world. Everyone knows each other and status really doesn't play that big of a part in the goings on in Springfield. Even Burns, it seems.
7. Who is your TV crush? I saw this. I mean honestly it's kind of ["Game of Thrones" stars] Jon Snow or really it's Amelia Clark,. But I got such a man crush on Jon Snow, especially the way things are going. I just feel like he's our only hope, but Amelia Clark definitely.
8. What TV theme song do you still remember the words to? "Ducktales."
9. What’s the guiltiest pleasure currently on your DVR? I'm a big Lakers fan and I still have Game Seven of the 2010 finals, where the Lakers came back and beat the Celtics. I still have that three years later on my DVR. I just won't erase it. Late at nights, I'll just be alone and turn that on. I think it's really sad trying to relive the glory days. I once had a birthday party and there were probably 50, 60 people at my place. It was crowded and I think I just had probably too much to drink and I just was done socializing. I just sort of reached that point and I just sat down on my couch in the middle of the party [while it] was in full swing and just turned that game on. Sort of zoned out and watched the game. I was like, "It's my birthday and I'm gonna behave how I want." Something just bizarre, but I remember people just laughing at me and thinking it was kind of sad. So I guess that's my guilty sort of pleasure.
10.What is your karaoke song? I'm just bad at karaoke. I think mostly I'll do "Happiness is a Warm Gun," but I guess I should stop. I rarely get a good response.
11.What is your favorite album? Nirvana's "Nevermind." It was one of the first albums I had. I was afraid to tell my parents about it. I thought it was like a naughty thing to have and Kurt Cobain on the inside of it was like flicking off the camera. That was so shocking to me and the music was so intense and loud, and just sort of different. Before I was listening to U2 or something, and this was this whole kind of world that opened up to me. I felt like it was a secret I had to hide from my family, but then I remember when he died, I remember my dad being really sad. Like he understood obviously the tragedy of it, but sort of on a larger level the loss for music. My dad [is] a fan of just music in general and he'd seen Jim Morrison die, Jimmie Hendrix. He sort of understood the sort of tragedy of it for music. It was kind of eye-opening, because it made me sort of realize that this was something to be shared, that my parents actually got it. Art and artists, the effect they have. They have an effect no matter how they go about it. So that album's always had a special thing for me.
12. What was your first concert? I don't know, but I do remember seeing Metallica at a young age and it scaring the crap out of me. I was terrified. I was like, "This is not fun. I want to leave. People are really intense." I just think I was not old enough. I was not ready. Because down the road, I liked really enjoyed it. I think it was just too soon.
13.What song was playing during your first kiss? I've no idea. I'm sure it was at a party. Honestly, when I think about that, I just think about the sort of terror and insecurity ringing through my head. To me, I don't understand who remembers the song playing during their first kiss, because I feel like it's a moment that's not generally planned. Or if it is, it's just so nerve-racking that it's hard.
14.What website do you visit when no one is watching? I feel like any guy who doesn't say porn is lying. But really, I forget what it's called but there's this – this is so dorky – there's a website that let's you play Super Mario Brothers, the game, but has different NES characters. You can play it as Link or MegaMan or the guys from Contra. And that is really sweet. Like that is something I'll do. It's super dorky. I'm not about to show some girl like, "Check out this cool website."
15.What phone app do you use the most? Sports Center. I wish I could say something else, but that has to be the truth. I have plenty of apps, but I'm just not good with social media. I like the look of Instagram because sometimes someone will do something kind of cool. I'll occasionally be on Twitter, but I'm sort of a sports nut. I feel like that is on all the time.
16.Who is your favorite Tweeter? I'm bad with social media, but Paris Hilton tweeted about me once. It's sort of the highlight of my career to be quite honest. She tweeted "'Cabin in the Woods' is amazing, especially actor Fran Krantz," and that was a really big deal for me. So I'm going to have to say Paris Hilton.
17.What article of clothing can you not live without? I'm a T-shirt and jeans kind of guy. So I'll have a pair of jeans that I'll wear for days straight. I don't know if that's gross or not. I'm not like making a mess of myself. Not the same T-shirt, but I'll wear the same jeans.
18. What was on your favorite T-shirt growing up? I went to a summer camp that I loved and there was a certain group, it was called "Path Finding." They'd go out onto the rocks - it was in the San Juan Mountains – and they'd get a shirt when they completed like five weeks straight of backpacking and camping. It was a super-cool looking shirt, but it was also sort of the prestige of being a Path Finder.
19.Did you have a poster of a celeb on your wall as a kid/teen? Who? I was a big Dolphins fan. I had a Dan Marino poster. Growing up in L.A., we didn't really have a team. The Raiders … I went to a Raiders' game and it as a similar experience to like the Metallica concert. It was just kind of scary. But for some reason, I think I just liked dolphins, like the mammal dolphins. So I just got into that team and Dan Marino was awesome.
20.Have you ever dressed as a celeb for Halloween? Who?
Yeah. I'm just going to be totally honest. It's super embarrassing. Jake Gyllenhaal. It's bizarre. I went to high school with him. He was a senior when I was a sophomore and he was like the star actor there. I'd seen him in plays. We were friendly or whatever, but I was this young kid who wanted to act and looked up to him. Later I was in "Donnie Darko" with him. But this was three or four years before "Donnie Darko" came out. Anyway, I just thought he was cool and I took it way too far, clearly. You know, there wasn't much to do. He was like a T-shirt [and] jeans kind of dude, but he had this shoulder bag or whatever. That was the defining piece for the costume. I went out and found a similar-looking bag and spiked my hair, and came to school in baggy jeans and a T-shirt. It was at school. Not like a party at school. So embarrassing.
People were like, "What are you wearing?" But he got it. I remember he passed me and he saw me and just started laughing and shaking his head. He must have just felt so sorry for me. But he's a great dude, though. Everyone knew he was going to be famous. So he was like the big man on campus for me. I don’t know, but embarrassing. I did it and I should own up to it.
21. What movie do you wish you could unsee? I really, really disliked the Ryan Gosling, "Drive" follow-up, "Only God Forgives." I'm a big fan of that director in general. But I just did not get that one. That just was taking sort of lyricism and violence to such a sort of boring and I think just empty level.
22. What movie have you seen the most times? My favorites are "2001," "Star Wars," "2046," "Dr. Strangelove."
23. What movie do you quote the most? "The Cable Guy." After Matthew Broderick just like really explicitly and clearly states how they can no longer be friends. And it's raining. It's outside his house and he's like, "We cannot see each other." It was like a very explicit ending of their relationship. Jim Carrey goes, "So, what are you trying to say?" One of my favorite moments.
24. What's your favorite Nic Cage film? I love him. That's a career that I would aspire to. I think he's great. I actually worked with him, "Matchstick Men," and I thought he was just so cool. My favorite is "The Rock." It's a sort of a cheesy movie, but he's really good in that. I feel like that's the only way I could ever break into the real action films if I just was kind of a little off, you know. Nic Cage, he pulls off the action hero because … you believe he's crazy. All those high stakes really work for the urgency and sort of intensity he brings to his performances. I'm a real big Nic Cage fan. Although I mean there are definitely a lot of bad movies he's done, but who hasn't I guess?