My Boy Franco

Jeff | Uncategorized | Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

My boy Franco was in Guelph last week. James Franco that is, or Jimmy Franks, as I and the rest of his inner circle like to call him. Okay, so maybe I’m not actually in his inner circle and chances are they probably don’t call him that, but James Franco really is my boy. He has been ever since 2006, when I had the pleasure of meeting him.

2006, as many of you will recall, was the year I landed the role of a lifetime. That was the year I was cast as “Ricky’s Buddy” in the direct-to-DVD feature film Camille starring James Franco and Sienna Miller. James and Sienna were two of the hottest stars in Hollywood at the time, with James just coming off of Spiderman 2 and Sienna Layer Cake. When I read the script for Camille, I was surprised to see that even though I had a pretty small part, (Two stoners, “Ricky” and “Ricky’s Buddy” meet a couple in a diner who are on their way to Niagara Falls. Later, when the couple’s motorcycle breaks down, the stoners give them a lift into town.) all of my scenes were with James and Sienna. I really didn’t want to look foolish in front of them so I ran my two lines over and over again in the days leading up to the shoot. You’ll realize how funny this is later.

On my first day of shooting, I sat down in a chair in the hair and make up trailer only to find James Franco seated right next to me. Being in Canadian show business, I had never been starstruck before, “Oh my God, is that The Garden Claw pitchman Art Drysdale?! And me without my autograph book.” but when I realized it was James I lost the ability to speak. I’m not sure if he could tell I was nervous but he soon put me at ease by small talking with me. James talked about the classes he was taking (He really is in like 4 different university programs at once) and I managed to tell him that I was a stand up comedian. James asked if I had any shows coming up around Toronto and I told him that I did not.

“Well, let me know if you get something.” He said.

When the make up gals were done with me, (Believe it or not, I needed to spend more time in the make up chair than James Franco) I walked over to set where I was introduced to Tyler Hynes, who was playing the role of Ricky. Now most of you know I’m not the biggest fan of new people but if you can’t get along with Tyler Hynes then there’s something wrong with you. Tyler’s a great guy and we hit it off right away. Then Sienna Miller introduced herself. “It’s nice to meet you,” she said, in her thick British accent. Sienna was very sweet and, for lack of a better word, hot. Also on set that day were Lauren Ash, an amazing improviser and actress who I would go on to work with on the sketch show Hotbox, and David Carradine. I never talked to David as he mostly kept to himself. Tyler had one conversation with him though where David just kept talking about his love of cowboy hats. I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school when I say that he was a bit of an odd duck that David Carradine. I really didn’t have to do too much in the diner scenes so the first two days on set flew by as I got paid an incredible amount of money to periodically laugh like a stoner and hang out with celebrities.

About a week later, I found myself in the front of a hearse with James, Sienna and Tyler. I think the reason Tyler and I drove around in a hearse is because our characters worked for a funeral parlour. I could be wrong though. I’m pretty sure if you asked Tyler he wouldn’t be able to give you a definitive answer either. Anyway, in the scene, James and Sienna argued with Tyler and I. They implored us to keep on driving but the two of us desperately wanted to stop for food because we were really stoned, you see. Tee-hee. Tee-hee. Throughout the day, one of the film’s producers, Albert Ruddy, kept suggesting to Tyler that he throw in the line “Ya, ya, let’s stop for popcorn, peanuts, all that good stuff.” Now, I’ve never smoked weed but I’ve been around a bunch of people who have (Brian Cook: The College Years) and I’ve never once heard a pothead cry out for “popcorn, peanuts, all that good stuff.” Tyler threw in the line though and even made it sound believable because he’s that good. Without question, the best part about filming the movie was getting to watch three awesome actors up close. Not to be outdone, I then delivered my two lines of dialogue – the two most powerful lines in the history of cinema, no less.

“Definitely.”

and

“Definitely.”

Alas, only a few folks ever heard me utter those captivating words (Sorry, word) as the scene was cut out of the movie. Near the end of the day, James once again asked me if I had any shows coming up in the area.

“Ya, I’m doing a set at the Toronto Yuk Yuk’s this Friday.” I said, which wasn’t true.

“Great, leave me a message with all the information and I’ll try to make it out.” James replied.

Then he gave me his cell phone number.

Let me repeat that. James Franco gave Ricky’s Buddy, the “Definitely” Boy, some glorified extra, his cell phone number. When I got home that night, I left James a message with all the information and then called Yuk Yuk’s owner Mark Breslin and pleaded with him to add me to the lineup.

“Come on, Mark,” I begged, “I know the show’s already booked but there’s a 4% chance that James Franco will show up.”

Mark gave me a spot on the show, just one of many favours he’s done for me over the years.

That Friday night, I arrived at Yuk Yuk’s early and grew more and more disappointed with each passing minute. James Franco was nowhere to be found. Tyler had shown up, which was sweet of him to do so, but, I mean, whoop-dee-fucking-doo. [Author's note: Sorry, Tyler. I love you, brother, but I made myself laugh out loud when I wrote that.] Finally, right before showtime, James walked in with Sienna, the director, the director of photography and another one of the film’s producers. It was at that moment I realized that if I bombed I was going to have a hell of an awkward last day on set. Thankfully, I had a great set that night with my closer doing particularly well, which went as follows:

I have a conspiracy theory about women which concerns the vagina. My conspiracy theory is this – Vaginas don’t really exist. I’m over 20 years old and I’ve never seen one and until I do I’m just grouping them in with unicorns. I’m serious, how do I know the first time I take off a girl’s panties there’s not going to be a little leprechaun dancing around there saying “Oh-dee-dee-dee-dee thought you were going to see a vagina, didn’t you, asshole?” Now that might seem a little far fetched to you folks, but not to me, I’ve seen as many leprechauns as I have vaginas.

For some reason, this weird bit always killed. It was my best joke at the time and, for obvious reasons, I could not wait to never tell it again. More on this joke later.

My last day on set was a real scorcher. It was boiling that day and we once again had to film outside. We filmed the scene where Tyler and I pick up a stranded James and Sienna on the side of the road. Most of the shots that afternoon were of Tyler and I pulling up in the hearse. Again, just to show you how cool James and Sienna were, they stood out in the heat so Tyler could deliver his lines to them even though they were not on camera. They didn’t have to do that. They easily could have made two other people stand there, but they didn’t because they’re wonderful people – wonderful people who were filming one of the worst movies of all time.

I’m serious about that. I’ve only ever watched my scenes but my cousin Luke sat through the whole thing and apparently Sienna’s character dies halfway through and becomes a zombie. There’s also a blue horse in the movie for some reason and the last line of dialogue is “It’s rice!” Despite this, I still contend that if people would have heard me say the word definitely twice it would have been a critics’ darling.

Later in the day, I was talking to one of the women in the wardrobe department. I made some joke and she playfully smacked my arm and walked off laughing. James, convinced I was flirting with her, came up to me. “Out fishing for leprechauns, are you?” He asked. The dude burned me with one of my own jokes. It was awesome. Later, he pointed to me and told Sienna, “Tell him how great he was.” “You were fantastic, darling.” She said. I’m not ashamed to say that after four days on set with her I totally had a crush on Sienna Miller.

The wrap party for the movie was held at the Dominion on Queen in downtown Toronto. I guess I showed up a little late that night as I arrived to find everyone completely shitfaced. A karaoke machine had been set up and one by one the cast and crew stumbled up to the mic. Tyler suggested I do some stand up, which sounded like a goddamn awful idea to me so I politely declined. Besides, I couldn’t have followed James as he stole the show that night. Jude Law had famously cheated on Sienna with his nanny the year before so when James got up and started sarcastically singing “Hey, Jude” to Sienna she burst out laughing, as did everyone else. Several people went up to the famous pair throughout the night to get their picture taken with them. I wasn’t one of them. “I don’t want to ask people if I can take my picture with them. I want people to ask if they can take their picture with me,” I thought.

It’s been 9 years since that wrap party. Since then, Tyler Hynes has appeared on virtually every Canadian TV series, most recently as Vince Lagare on 19-2 while Lauren Ash now lives in Los Angeles and starred on the ABC sitcom Super Fun Night. Sienna Miller has performed in critically-acclaimed movies such as Foxcatcher and American Sniper and James Franco is now one of the biggest stars in the world. He has been nominated for an Oscar and even half-assed his way through hosting the Awards one year because he’s James Franco and he’s cool as shit and he’s allowed to do things like that.

And as for me, well, Clint Malarchuk has more followers than me on Twitter and two weeks ago I had to buy a coke at Pizza, Pizza just to shit in their bathroom. The guy working behind the counter didn’t ask if he could take his picture with me when I returned the key either. No, I’m not famous yet – far from it, I’m afraid. I’ll get there someday though and when I do I know exactly how I’m going to treat the Ricky’s Buddys of the world. I’m not going to instruct someone else to instruct them to not make eye contact with me. No, I’m not going to treat them rudely at all. Instead, I’m going to treat them with kindness, courtesy and respect. I’m going to treat them the same way Sienna Miller and my boy Franco treated me.

Jeff

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