Over the course of his film career, James Franco has slowly transitioned from goofy leading man, to serious actor who occasionally takes on a silly role. Between attending classes, teaching classes, co-hosting the Oscars, and writing his own projects, it’s a wonder Franco even finds time to sleep.
When he does sleep, however, he most likely dreams about a huge passion project of his: adapting William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying into a feature-length film. An extremely challenging task given that Faulkner’s novel is told from more than a dozen different perspectives, yet Franco has remained undeterred in his efforts and even shot a rough version of his vision a few years ago.
Now that vision of As I Lay Dying is finally coming true for Franco, who, as it has just been announced, will be directing the film in October. Shooting is said to take place in Mississippi – a frequent setting in Faulkner’s novels – with Millennium Films providing the financial backing.
Among the actors Franco has brought on for roles in the film are frequent collaborator Danny McBride, along with Tim Blake Nelson, Logan Marshall Green, Ahna O’Reilly, and Jim Parrack. Franco’s original dream cast for As I Lay Dying included Paul Dano, Richard Jenkins, Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Shannon, and Joaquin Phoenix (The Master). Unfortunately, none of those actors are mentioned in connection with the project, but we imagine Franco still has them in the back of his mind.
Franco also hopes to take on a role in the film, but it’s said to be a small one. Given the daunting task of adapting Faulkner for film audiences, we wouldn’t blame him if he stuck specifically to directing.
A sprawling tale of many different characters coping with loss, As I Lay Dying focuses on the death and, more importantly, burial of Abbie Bundren. It is over the course of her family’s attempt to fulfill her wishes to be buried in the fictional town of Jefferson, Mississippi that each narrator comes to learn something about themselves.
In addition to the challenge of telling a film from several different perspectives – a difficulty Franco has discussed before – the novel’s stream of consciousness writing style makes it even more impenetrable. It might not be as insurmountable a feet as, say, adapting Cloud Atlas, but doing Faulkner justice should give Franco, who’s been picking up projects left and right, quite the workload.
Source: Showbiz 411