Everyone’s favorite parlor game — “Who should play Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey Movie/trainwreck/the cinematic experience of our time” — just got another celebrity participant. If one Ms. Britney Spears had her way, sexy, dominating businessman Christian Grey will be played by James Franco.
“I love James Franco,” Spears replied when asked about her pick. “I think he’s really cool.” That kind of teenspeak is Spears gushing! She’s all in!
It’s easy to dismiss her remarks with a laugh (and you can get a second chuckle picturing Spears reading Fifty Shades of Grey for the first time: “This is dirty, y’all!”), but while, yes, Franco is a bona fide movie star who probably has no interest, he actually seems like a solid choice that might actually sign on, as opposed to other A-list wish-list names, such as Leonardo DiCaprio or Christian Bale. Props to Ms. Spears. (Franco’s rep didn’t reply to EW’s request for comment.)
Is tortured artist James Franco secretly the perfect person to play tortured torturer Christian Grey? They both have been called freaks, after all. Franco loves a good controversial project (Spring Breakers!), so let’s really think this through, because if you’re anything like Britney and me, your ears may have just perked up at the one name that would actually get you into the theater opening weekend, if only so you could watch him smirk to the camera for 90 minutes.
1.) Franco is a performance artist (or at least was on General Hospital). He’s not playing Christian Grey, you guys. He’s an actor playing Christian Grey, and — in his mind at least — the whole thing could be a deconstruction of celebrity, and fandom, and what women find sexy. Fifty Shades of Grey just got deep, man. Bonus: “Franco” already has no issue with blindfolds!
2.) He’s played sappy romantic leads before, so no one will need to worry about the love story between Anastasia and Christian. He can sell the cheesiest of dialogue (see: Tristan and Isolde) so groan-worthy remarks from the novel such as, “I want you to become well acquainted, on first name terms if you will, with my favorite and most cherished part of my body. I’m very attached to this” won’t be an issue.
3.) It seems like 50 percent of the book is “sexy” emails between Anastasia and Christian. Who better to bring the most email-centric plot since You’ve Got Mail to the big screen than the man who’s got no issues expressing himself 24/7? He’s got his mind-bending Instagram account, his paintings, and his regular columns for various publications. A couple not-at-all-business-related emails aren’t going to make him blink…no matter how over the top.
4.) It seems many actors might be turned off by the kinky subject matter, but not Franco. He co-directed, produced and starred in Interior. Leather Bar, a well-reviewed indie movie about queer sex on film. A little sadomasochism is now all in a day’s work.
5.) To quote Anastasia from the book, “[Christian] is not merely good looking – he is the epitome of male beauty, breathtaking.” Franco has worked as a model (and not just on The Mindy Project!) and previously played heartthrob James Dean. There isn’t going to be an issue in the looks department.
Sure, Franco is pretty busy between acting, hosting, and teaching; being James Franco seems like a full-time job. There’s absolutely no way a star of his stature is going to take on the controversial, punchline-ready role of Christian Grey.
Unless he does.