James Franco Planning ‘As I Lay Dying’ Summer 2011 Shoot; Eyeing Stellar Cast

Published 4 years ago by

James Franco to film As I Lay Dying movie in Summer 2011 James Franco Planning As I Lay Dying Summer 2011 Shoot; Eyeing Stellar Cast

You gotta give upcoming Osar co-host and current Best Actor nominee James Franco points for ambition. Not only does the former Spider-Man actor claim to have done extensive pre-production work on an adaptation of the American literary masterpiece As I Lay Dying, but he is also prepped to begin filming the project this summer.

Previous reports indicating that Franco was personally invested in tackling William Faulkner’s multi-perspective novel were seemingly true, as the 32-year old thespian already has a potential (and highly accomplished) cast in mind as well.

Franco was chilling on the streets of Park City, Utah (get it? Moving on…) while attending the 2011 Sundance Film Festival when MTV caught up with him. Word from the 127 Hours lead is that he’s not only crafted a lengthy 160-page script based off Faulkner’s original prose, but that Franco rang in the New Year by doing an entire amateur-shoot of As I Lay Dying with actors down in North Carolina – though none of those performers are apparently guaranteed to appear in the actual theatrical film.

It turns out Franco has his eyes on some undeniably top-notch talents to bring Faulkner’s layered narrative to life. Their ranks include that of Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins (last seen playing Chloe Moretz’ “father” in Let Me In), Franco’s self-proclaimed favorite actor to work with, Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire), and Joaquin Phoenix, who should hopefully get back to racking up award nominations as opposed to ornery glares from cinemaphiles who were less than impressed with his I’m Still Here shenanigans.

Potential Cast of As I Lay Dying James Franco Planning As I Lay Dying Summer 2011 Shoot; Eyeing Stellar Cast

Dano, Jenkins, and Shannon could star in 'As I Lay Dying'.

As I Lay Dying revolves around the symbolic efforts of the Bundren clan to honor the wishes of their dearly-departed matriarch and bury her in the town of Jefferson, Mississippi. Faulkner constructed his novel in an experimental mode that uses fifteen different narrators, each of whom has their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations, with regards to the task at hand.

Franco has spoken out before about the difficulties presented by the structure and design of Faulkner’s original text and offered the following insight concerning his approach to the material:

“You can slip into the characters’ heads and give them their inner voice for a while, but it has to be more fluid because movies just work differently than books. Movies, in some ways because they deal in images, are more concrete. I want to be loyal to the book — my approach is to always be loyal in a lot of ways — but in order to be loyal I will have to change some things for the movie.”

As I Lay Dying book image James Franco Planning As I Lay Dying Summer 2011 Shoot; Eyeing Stellar Cast

There have been no reports of Franco securing financial backing yet for his project, which he may also tackle acting duties on. Given the prestigious nature of the source material and the fact that Franco already has a demo reel complete that illustrates his approach to the adaptation, it shouldn’t be long before he garners the support of anxious studio execs that smell a possible awards-season contender in the works.

Look for more information about Franco’s adaptation of As I Lay Dying to be released in the near future. For additional movie and TV news, follow us on Twitter @screenrant and @feynmanguy.

Source: MTV (via The Playlist)

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  1. Everything about this seems amazing. I’m really hoping the final product delivers

  2. Great novel. Can’t wait to see hwo he tackles it. Kudos for him to attempt this.

  3. my mother is a fish.

  4. if they can’t find an effective way to really do justice to the novel’s unique narrative structure then i hope they just scrap it altogether. as much as i love mallick’s “thin red line”, there’s nothing worse than having a bunch of internal monologues talk at me over flashback montages so i can “get inside their head”. unlike other faulkner novels that are short on plot but long on literary devices, this one has a story that can still stand on it’s own. any word on if who he’ll cast for the mother? even though she’s dead, she gets a pretty long flashback sequence in the book and it provides some pretty significant back-information. i look forward to this. franco may not be my favorite actor but i admire his passion for the project.

    • EDIT: i mean, i would hope they scrap any attempt to emulate the narrative structure, not the movie itself.

  5. IMO, there is no Faulkner novel that is “short on plot”, just some that are more linear than others. AILD is hardly linear, but it does have the advantage of giving its characters a finite objective.

    And there have been successful movies that tell a story from the POV of multiple narrators. I just don’t think it can be as many as in the novel.

    • I was thinking more in terms of film-able plot that would convert to the screen in your standard conflict-resolution formula rather than protracted character studies, convoluted histories, etc.

  6. Sounds like a classy production.
    I am hoping James Franco gets the finances to make AILD. Plus I sure hope he put Joaquin Phoenix in it and that JP wants to be in it.
    James Franco and Joaquin Phoenix two hotties!!!

  7. The narrative is very cinematic. The problem is Addie. Could Elvira give the speech?