The recent holidays were an unusual time for Dave Franco. His older brother James, referred to by President Obama as “James Flacco,” was at the center of the The Interview crisis, where hackers, reportedly working for North Korea, followed their invasion on Sony’s privacy by making terror threats on movie theaters. “It was terrifying,” says Dave Franco during our own, far less drastic interview.
“It was an extremely bizarre, scary situation. I tend to get a little paranoid in those situations. Because I’m in the same vicinity as my brother, I’m thinking there’s a fifty percent chance I’m gonna get killed this Christmas.”
While the threat proved empty, as many suspected, it did manage to put a damper on the holidays for families like that of Franco’s, who typically spend the holidays watching at least one movie a day.
“We didn’t feel safe enough to go to the theater,” Franco admits. “So we missed out on what’s typically a very joyous family tradition. Everything was so blown out of proportion through the media that you can’t help but get caught up on it a little bit. I was taking cues from my brother, seeing how seriously he was taking it and how threatened he actually felt. He seemed pretty composed throughout and so that definitely eased my mind to an extent.”
As far as we know, Dave Franco’s latest movie Unfinished Business has not irked North Korean hackers. The comedy has Franco playing a virginal salesman recruited just in time for a major business deal in Europe, where sex, partying and mayhem ensues. Franco stars opposite Tom Wilkinson and Vince Vaughn, who he credits with elevating everyone around him.
“If I said a really dumb joke, Vaughn would turn that dumb joke into gold,” says Franco, who has already mapped out an impressive comedic career in 21 Jump Street and Neighbors just by working opposite talents Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen. “I don’t consider myself to be a comedian. All I need to do is be present with them and react to what they are doing.”
Franco remains humble about a comedic career that also includes wildly popular Funny Or Die videos like “Dream Girl,” where he negotiates “Blumpkins” with real-life girlfriend Alison Brie. He’s also shocked at how much fandom comes his way. A commentator on my last interview with Franco echoes an oft-repeated sentiment when he/she writes, “I’m obsessed with him; he’s just perfection.” While Franco finds such praise flattering, he still avoids reading what people write about him at all costs, refusing even to join Twitter.
“If there were a couple people a day who said something negative about me, I think that’s all I would focus on,” he says. “Even if there are a hundred nice things said, if there was one bad thing that’s all I would remember. I just don’t want that negative energy in my life everyday.”
Franco’s anxiousness is reasonable since he’s a relatively fresh face that’s still warming up to the industry. Having an older brother in the business didn’t necessarily prepare Franco for Hollywood. The seven year gap between them meant they ran in different circles.
Dave remained in Palo Alto, stuck through high school, and even attended college, so he wasn’t exposed to the business or the LA party scene until his twenties. Instead, he shares the same experiences as most average Americans, right down to the first time he got hammered at a typical house party during his junior year in high school; an experience he probably called upon for the riotous moments in Unfinished Business.
“One of the cool senior guys came up to me with a bottle of Smirnoff Twist,” Franco recalls about his virginal experience with liquor. “He sits me down and he says ‘we’re gonna finish this right now.’ We pass it back and forth and pounded that bottle in less than ten minutes. I was passed out face down on the backyard lawn with my buddy trying to shove a pen down my throat to get me to throw up. I woke up the next morning and stumbled into the bathroom to discover that people had drawn penises all over my entire body. That was my introduction to the partying world.”
That being said, Franco insists that he and his older brother aren’t really the hard partying types. “I’m very boring these days,” he says, describing an exciting weekend as time spent in bed with his two giant cats watching movies like Stand By Me.
He’s likely savoring the quiet moments at home since his blossoming career means he’s constantly travelling, living in various cities for months at a time while shooting, separated from his cats, lifelong friends and, of course, the girlfriend. As anyone who travels excessively for work would tell you, keeping your better half happy while being miles apart is always the biggest challenge during business trips. “Everyone’s got their different routines,” says Franco, relishing the fact that maintaining a relationship (with Alison Brie!) hasn’t been very demanding in that regard. “I’m not the type of person to necessarily get on the phone every day. I will definitely touch base in some capacity, whether it is text or email. I’ve been pretty lucky where I’ve been in relationships that are very trusting. I haven’t had to get on the phone just to ease my partner’s mind.”