Review: Actors Anonymous by James Franco

actors anonymousWe all have an opinion about James Franco. You either think he’s a pompous douchebag and you hate him, or you think he’s a pompous douchebag and you love him. Either way, there’s no denying that Franco is accomplished in many arenas. He’s an actor, starring in such films as Oz: The Great and Powerful, the Spider Man franchise with Tobey Maguire, and famously hosting the Oscars with Anne Hathaway while seemingly “on” something. And my personal favorite – on Freaks and Geeks, which is one of the most awesome television shows ever made. He’s an accomplished scholar, currently a Ph.D. candidate at Yale. He’s also a director, working on several film projects currently. Oh, and he frequently makes fun of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian with pal Seth Rogan with their dead-on parodies, most recently of their Vogue cover.

And he’s also an author. Actors Anonymous is a collection of short stories, all centering around struggling actors who all – or most – bear a striking resemblance to the man himself. In fact, in some stories he even refers to himself in the third person. Some of the stories are disturbing, such as the McDonald’s worker who succumbs to providing sexual favors for some extra cash. In Franco’s Wikipedia bio (which, of course must be true because … Internet!) it states that he worked at Mickey D’s while struggling to make it in Hollywood, and tried out accents on the customers, which is identical to what the character in the book does. So are we meant to think that this fiction is part autobiographical?

Peppered with interesting tidbits about film and actors, AA is smartly written, hip, and yet disturbing as hell. It exposes the dark side of the entertainment industry and the desperation felt by actors to “make it” in Hollywood. And leaves you wondering what else is going on in that intelligent mind of Franco’s.

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