James Franco Finds Broadway Debut ‘Of Mice and Men’ ‘Refreshing’

Ahead of his upcoming Broadway debut in Of Mice and Men -- opposite Chris O'Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Parrack, and directed by Anna D. Shapiro, who won the Tony for the stage production of August: Osage County -- James Franco stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Friday, even if he was a bit loopy.

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"I feel kind of out of it right now, I just came from rehearsal," Franco told Jimmy Fallon, rubbing his eyes. "I've been shooting a short film at nights, rehearsing during the day, and now I'm here."

Franco plays George, the uneducated but quick-witted friend and protector of simple-minded Lennie (O'Dowd), a gentle soul unaware of his own strength, in John Steinbeck's tragic story of two itinerant workers seeking new opportunities in Depression-era California. Previews begin March 19 at the Longacre Theatre, with the official opening scheduled for April 16.

Fallon supposed that the hyper-productive multi-hyphenate Franco wouldn't be up for a stage production, since it entails repeating the same lines each night as the same character for weeks at a time. But Franco clarified, "There's something really refreshing about that where you feel a deeper connection to the character. I've hear other actors say it too – you realize how deep you can go into a character."

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He continued, "In movies, we hardly rehearse. It's like, you're ready to go when you're there, you only ostensibly have to get right only once, and then you move on. Here, you're etching it, and there's something kind of zen about that."

Franco spoke on his upcoming poetry book Directing Herbert White, and gave more details on that short film he's been working on. "It's Harmony Korine, who directed Spring Breakers -- when he was 18, he wrote Kids, and this is a short that he wrote around that time that he gave to [director] Larry Clark to get the job to write Kids. It was never made, so I'm making it now."

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Ashley Lee