James Edward Franco (born April 19, 1978) is a Golden Globe-winning American actor.. He began acting during the late 1990s, appearing on the short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks and starring in several teen films. In 2001, he received worldwide attention and praise for his portrayal of James Dean in the made for television biographical film James Dean, which earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
He became well known since the early 2000s when he was cast as Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man films. In 2005, he starred in the war film The Great Raid. The following year, he had starring roles in three movies, Tristan & Isolde, Annapolis, and Flyboys. In 2008, he starred in the comedy/stoner film Pineapple Express opposite his Freaks and Geeks co-star Seth Rogen. He has appeared in Nights in Rodanthe and will play a prominent role in the upcoming film Milk.
Franco was born April 19, 1978 in Palo Alto, California. His first break was in 1999, after he was cast in a leading role on the short-lived but well-reviewed television series Freaks and Geeks. Franco's first major film was the romantic comedy Whatever It Takes (2000), where he met his co-star, now ex-girlfriend Marla Sokoloff. He was subsequently cast as the title role in director Mark Rydell's 2001 TV biopic James Dean. He was distinguished with a Golden Globe Award, as well as being nominated for an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Franco was originally considered for the lead role of Spider-Man/Peter Parker in the film version of Spider-Man, but was instead cast in the supporting role of Harry Osborn, the son of the villainous Green Goblin. The success of the Spider-Man film led him to reprise the role in two sequels, Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007). Franco was cast in the 2002 drama City by the Sea. Franco has also co-starred with Neve Campbell in Robert Altman's The Company (2003). He appeared in the 2005 war film The Great Raid.
In 2006, Franco co-starred in Annapolis and played legendary hero Tristan in Tristan & Isolde. He then trained with the stunt team "The Blue Angels" and received a pilot's license in preparation for his role in Flyboys, which was released in September of 2006; the same month, Franco appeared briefly in The Wicker Man, a horror film starring Nicolas Cage, who directed him in Sonny. Franco made cameo appearances in The Holiday and Knocked Up. He was also featured in the mockumentary, "Finding Ben Stone", on the two-disc edition of Knocked Up, where he gets fired from the lead role.
He starred in the 2008 film Pineapple Express, a comedy co-starring and co-written by Seth Rogen produced by Judd Apatow, both of whom worked with Franco on Freaks and Geeks. Franco has been signed to star opposite Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch in Gus Van Sant's upcoming Harvey Milk bio-pic Milk.