James Franco Used to Pick Up Girls Working at a McDonald's Drive Thru

James Franco explains how he first honed his accent work for the upcoming HBO series The Deuce while working at a McDonald's drive thru window—and how that got him into trouble with the girls he met there.

Released on 7/5/2017

Transcript

00:03
I started acting my senior year in high school.
00:06
I had a girlfriend in the drama program, Jasmine.
00:10
And she had been asked to do a one act,
00:14
by this guy, Yoav Fisher.
00:16
And Yoav had written this one act and was directing it
00:19
and starring in it.
00:20
It was this romantic piece.
00:22
And they were gonna make out in it.
00:23
And I got really jealous that she was doing this
00:25
and I begged her not to do it.
00:27
But she did it anyway, as she should have.
00:29
I was jealous, probably more because he had constructed
00:33
this whole thing, and he'd written it and directed it
00:35
and was acting in it, and it was like
00:37
all the things that I wanted to do.
00:40
So as my revenge, I decided that I would join
00:43
the drama class and I got the leads in the last two
00:47
plays of that year.
00:48
Hadn't applied to any drama schools 'cause I was too late,
00:51
but I was in LA, and they were like,
00:53
a guy in my dorm that was on the show Cybill,
00:56
with Cybill Shepherd, and I was like, I need to do this now.
01:00
So I dropped out of school, I worked at McDonald's
01:02
for two or three months.
01:04
Got a couple dates from the drive through window.
01:06
Then I got a Pizza Hut commercial,
01:08
and then not long after that, I did Freaks And Geeks,
01:11
so it all worked out.
01:13
I would practice different accents in the drive through,
01:15
like really bad accents.
01:17
(in Italian accent) Welcome to McDonald's, may I help you?
01:20
That bad.
01:22
And then I'd always know that they were interested
01:24
'cause they would come back around.
01:25
Young lady would be like, oh, I forgot the uh,
01:28
strawberry milkshake.
01:30
She'd come back and I would say, oh, here you go.
01:33
She'd be like, I'm trying to learn Italian,
01:35
maybe you could give me some Italian lessons.
01:36
I don't know, I guess with my Irish accent,
01:39
my Brooklyn accent, those I could go out on dates with.
01:42
We went to see Titanic.
01:43
I had to keep it up, you know, so like,
01:46
(in Boston accent) whoa, Leonardo, wow, he was amazing.
01:50
Went back to the McDonald's parking lot and made out.
01:53
And then I always had to break it to 'em.
01:55
'Cause they'd call me, I'd pick up the phone,
01:57
I didn't know who it was, and I'd be like, hello?
01:59
And they'd be like, James, is that you?
02:01
What, what happened to your accent?
02:03
I'd be like, whoa, hey, how's it going.
02:05
So then I'd have to break it to 'em,
02:06
and it was always the worst, as if I was this huge imposter.
02:11
I had to come clean, like, hey, I'm not from Brooklyn,
02:15
I'm from Palo Alto.
02:16
And they'd just look at me like I'm a complete stranger.
02:20
Usually ended right there.
02:22
I probably wouldn't be on The Deuce, I wouldn't be
02:24
as good on The Deuce had I not gone on all those dates
02:28
as this guy from Brooklyn, who works at McDonald's.
02:33
Well The Deuce came about, actually, I sort of pursued it.
02:36
I had met with David Simon.
02:37
I was a huge fan because he did The Wire,
02:40
which was the greatest TV show ever made.
02:42
I asked him, do you have anything else
02:44
that you plan to work on?
02:46
And he said, well, I've got this thing
02:48
about pornography in the '70s, and it's all about
02:52
the old 42nd Street in New York in the '70s.
02:55
And I'm hearing like, oh yeah, it's basically
02:58
the atmosphere and world of all my favorite movies
03:01
from the '70s.
03:02
Yeah, the wardrobe was really important.
03:05
And also, '70s wardrobe is like really tight.
03:08
For a year, all I had for lunch and dinner
03:11
was salad, salad, salad, salad, salad.
03:14
So I could get that (snaps fingers).
03:16
Normally I try to ignore my birthdays.
03:18
My 30th birthday, I got a surprise party
03:20
and was like, this is your life kind of surprise party.
03:24
Teachers, people from elementary school.
03:27
That was great, it was great to have at least one of those,
03:30
I think.
03:31
It's a weird moment, when you get surprised.
03:33
All the attention's on you,
03:34
there's everybody that you've known,
03:37
you've got different feelings about all of them,
03:39
and it's all hitting you at once.
03:41
I'm surprised that more people don't freak out
03:43
and just punch somebody in that moment.
03:45
My 39th birthday, treated myself.
03:48
I didn't try to ignore it and I went to a
03:49
old-fashioned video game arcade
03:53
and I played video games.
03:54
I actually beat this old game that I used to play
03:58
with my friends in junior high called Street Fighter 2.
04:01
I got all the quarters I wanted, treated myself,
04:04
and I beat the game on my birthday.
04:07
Then I went out dancing.
04:09
Been doing hip hop lessons,
04:10
I've been doing Magic Mike lessons.
04:12
Well, not quite Magic Mike, I don't strip or anything.
04:15
But I do hip hop.
04:16
Got a lot of Bobby Brown.
04:17
My Prerogative, that's my song now.
04:20
Beat Street Fighter 2, then I went to this bar
04:23
in Silver Lake called The Friend, did a few moves,
04:26
and then went home.
04:27
First French kiss, it was spin the bottle.
04:30
I don't know if I could have done it on my own volition,
04:32
so like, we played spin the bottle, and if the bottle
04:35
lands on somebody twice, then you have to French kiss.
04:38
It was at camp.
04:39
We went to Raging Waters.
04:41
I wasn't one of the cool kids, but I was like whoa,
04:43
they're letting me play spin the bottle, this is amazing.
04:46
We stayed back while everybody else went on
04:48
the waterslides and played spin the bottle.
04:50
And it landed on Alyssa,
04:51
I think that was her name, Alyssa, twice.
04:53
It was the one I wanted.
04:55
So yeah, we French kissed.
04:56
I probably didn't have another French kiss
04:58
for like three years after that.
05:00
But that was enough to keep the fire going,
05:03
like you know, fantasize about that.