James Franco Confirmed to Direct ‘As I Lay Dying’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 17th, 2013 at 11:22 am,

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.

William Faulkner As I Lay Dying James Franco Confirmed to Direct As I Lay Dying

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.

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Source: Showbiz 411

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  1. “…it’s a wonder Franco even finds time to sleep.”

    Well, in the picture he looks like he hasn´t slept in weeks. Or he hung out with Cheech and Chong…

  2. I love Faulkner’s novels and “As I lay Dying” in particular, but frankly I don’t see how it is shot as a movie that a modern audience will appreciate without massive changes. The subtlety of Faulkner’s writing has always presented enormous challenges to anyone contemplating adapting it for the screen or stage. The reality is that most readers today don’t have the patience or skill to read Faulkner, look at the comments posted on Amazon a few years back when Oprah made three of his books her summer selection.

    I think a foreign audience would be more receptive to a film, they would be more intrigued by the exploration of the early 20th century southern American dirt farmer life and values. But I wish Mr. Franco good luck, perhaps he will surprise me.

  3. Addie, not Abbie. Seriously?

  4. It is Addie f****** Bundren NOT Abbie. How do you mess that up?

  5. I love Faulkner’s writing. As I Lay Dying is a very tragic novel.

    This will be a stretch for Franco.

  6. 1.As I lay dying is not hard to read. 2.It is not slow. 3.It is as visual as any novel and has movie written all over it. 4.It will not be transformers or the expendables(thank god), but it will be highly watchable even if franco botches. I’m sick of hearing how hard it will be due to the rapid changes in narration blah blah blah, the story is gorgeous and disturbing and everyone loves a character movie. Read the book its amazing. I wonder who mcbride will play?

  7. The movie began filming in White Oak the last week of August. The produers said the sole reason for filming in Smith County was of the old dogtrot house locatex in the Bienville National Forest along Heater Ridge. The grrandmother of American Idol finalizt Skylar Laine grew up here. They also filmed in Learned and Canton. They finished filming on October 6th.

  8. I can’t believe you didn’t take the time and effort to get the name of the “main” character in “As I Lay Dying” correct. Her name is NOT “Abbie Bundren” it’s “Addie Bundren.” You should read the novel, then you’d never forget.

  9. James Franco takes Faulkner to the Cannes Film Festival in May.