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