ABOVE: JAMES FRANCO AT THE “REFLECTIONS ON THE MADE TO MEASURE” CAMPAIGN SHOOT. PHOTO: P& G PRESTIGE.
Interview‘s founder, Andy Warhol, famously said many things (“It’s not what you are that counts, it’s what they think you are”; “People should fall in love with their eyes closed”; “I think it would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor’s finger”). His singular wisdom also crept into the questions that he asked people like Truman Capote, Mick Jagger, Brooke Shields, Rudolf Nureyev, Liza Minnelli, and Michael Jackson in the interviews that he did for the magazine throughout the 1970s and the 1980s. It has been said that Andy started Interview so that he could get tickets to the New York Film Festival or to give the kids at the Factory “something to do.” But he also knew that asking the simplest of questions could sometimes yield the most revealing answers. The ones that he did ask (“Do you keep a diary?” “Do you dream?” “You’re not a corporation, are you?” to a teenage Jodie Foster) were always pure Andy—by turns serious, frivolous, off-kilter, and mundane—and never failed to construct portraits of his subjects that were both head-on and consistently surprising.
Which leads us to a new feature that we are launching this month in the magazine, Andy Warhol’s Interview Interview, in which people are asked a series of actual questions that Andy posed to subjects during his years as chief interrogator for the magazine.
Our first victim: actor, author, artist, and student of life (and for life) James Franco, who, between movies, novels, projects, and classes, is not only preparing this fall to debut a new film adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, which he directed, but is also the face of Gucci’s latest fragrance, Made to Measure. Here, we get the measure of Franco, Warhol-style.
ANDY WARHOL: What did you have for breakfast?
JAMES FRANCO: I went to this horrible place in the airport. I got huevos rancheros in England and it was the worst idea ever. I couldn’t eat it and I hate wasting food.
WARHOL: Is there anything you regret not doing?
FRANCO: I have no regrets. I’m very proud of a lot of the projects I have worked on as an actor, director, and writer. I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to work on certain kinds of projects—projects that I’ve always dreamed about—and I’ve been able to work with a lot of my heroes.
WARHOL: Are you always thinking?
FRANCO: Yes. I feel there are so many things in this world that have been and are being created that I could spend the rest of my life thinking about, and I couldn’t cover all the things I’m interested in. That to me is what makes life sweet-learning and exploring.
WARHOL: Do you get depressed if you don’t work?
FRANCO: Maybe. Not necessarily when it comes to acting, but I do like to stay busy. Lately, I am very grateful for my life. I think one of the keys to not being depressed is to find gratitude and to be grateful for what you have. So I am grateful for what I have.
WARHOL: Do you think that it is vanity to worry so much about what you look like?
FRANCO: Yes, but if you have a profession that depends on what you look like, you can’t blame somebody for caring about that. It’s part of their job. So it’s vanity but it’s also not in a lot of cases. It’s being professional.
WARHOL: I don’t want to live forever, do you?
FRANCO: No, I don’t want to live forever. Do you?