By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
You may hear the name Franco and think of James, but younger bother Dave has been making a name for himself starring in various TV and film roles such as 21 Jump Street (2012), Super Bad, Fright Night and 7th Heaven. Dave’s latest role is in the zombie love story, “Warm Bodies”, which may surprise audiences to see a different side to the intriguing actor.
PFF: How did you become involved with Warm Bodies?
DF: When I first heard about the project, to be honest, I wasn’t jumping out of my seat for it because I heard it was another zombie movie and there’s been so many of those lately. The reason I was drawn towards it was the director, Jonathan Levine. I’m a huge fan of his past work especially “The Wackness”, I’ve seen it a handful of times and of course 50/50. I knew that someone like him just looking at his track record, I knew he was going to bring do something new and fresh to the genre, make it his own. Then I read the script and saw that it was trying to be something new. For me I love projects, whether or not they work, if they are trying to attempt to try and do something original. This script, in the wrong hands, could have been a disaster. But then again Jonathan Levine is the perfect guy for the job because you look at a movie like 50/50. That film is another movie where he balances the tone, this very serious movie about a guy who has cancer, but he some how is able to infuse comedy, making it feel seamless; where in retrospect, it could have been very offensive. Then with [Warm Bodies] it’s a zombie movie, which brings in the humor and the romance and is he’s able to just somehow make it all work.
PFF: So he’s able to inject life into an otherwise “dead” genre?
DF: Totally, totally! And who knows? I’m curious to that there’s going to be a resurgence of zombie movies now told from the zombie’s perspective, if this does well.
PFF: Did you have to do any special training for you role in this film?
DF: The only real training we did was, we went to the gun range just to try and make those scenes look and feel as natural as possible. It’s always interesting as an actor because you get to learn about things in different fields of work that you would never have the chance to learn otherwise. For instance, there’s a gun expert on set and I loved nerding out with those guys, picking their brains trying to find out everything I can know about these guns. Because my nightmare, for example, is for a guy in the military to see this movie and see my scenes of where I’m handling a gun and saying “That’s not the way how we hold our guns.” I try to make those details feel as authentic as possible.
PFF: I see that you’ve done a lot of TV. and films, and this role seems a lot different that what audiences have previously seen of you. It was refreshing to see you in a more serious role.
DF: Yeah definitely. I think this was another reason that I was drawn towards the project. I’ve done the primarily comedies up to this point and I feel just as comfortable with dramatic roles, I just haven’t really had the chance to “spread my wings”. You know my last few projects, I keep getting pigeon-holed as the “jerk, “douche bag’, or “asshole” character and it’s was fun at first because it was playing someone completely outside of who I am, which was fun at the time but I’ve exhausted that role. There’s not much more I can do with it. It was nice though to show a bit of a softer side and kind of a wimp at times; I was able to show a romantic side and even though my character does become hardened by his circumstances, by the end of his journey you understand why. He becomes a justifiable jerk. Any actor will tell you it’s nice to change things up every now and again.
PFF: You mentioned at the screening that you also are a writer and filming with your friends. What type of projects do you normally focus on?
DF: My friend Brian McGuinn, who I’ve known since middle school, he’s an amazing director; an up-and coming guy. We do these videos for FunnyOrDie.com and I write and act in all of them; Brian directs and shoots them. We both then edit the shorts together. In general, they’re all silly, comedic bits, but the reason I love doing them is that Funny Or Die give us complete creative control, so we can go wild. Like I was saying earlier, I am drawn towards projects are original, so my videos are off-the-wall and they’re not for everyone. The people that are attracted to them, like them because they are trying to be something different. I’m excited to talk about them because we created them from the ground up and I think as twisted as they are, it is an accurate representation of my type of humor. Another thing they allow me to do is to be patent and allow me to wait for movie roles that I really want to do. Instead of waiting around for the next audition feeling antsy or bored, needing to be back on set, I make these videos with my friends and it keeps me busy.
PFF: How would you describe your sense of humor?
DF: It’s kind of dark, kind of pushes the envelope at times, at times we go too far. A lot of the time it’s kind of sexual, but I think what makes it stand apart is that Brian has such and amazing eye and he makes these over the top sexual videos look beautiful. So I think that people may be a little weirded out but impressed that we would go to such lengths to sell a dick joke and I think that’s why people like them?
PFF: What else are working on? What’s coming up for you?
DF: Over the summer I have a movie coming out called “Now You See Me”. It’s a movie about these 4 magicians that come together and use their ability to pull of bank heists. It has this incredible cast; the list ever ends. Jesse Eisneberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine; its unbelievable. So I sort of snuck my way in. Just being on set with these guys where some of them have been in the business 20,30,40+ years, just being able to see their process, how humble they are and how they sometime doubt themselves in a very endearing way. Even though they have been in the business a long time, they want to push themselves, to be better and that was invaluable. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as these actors is incredible.
PFF: What’s one piece of advice you could offer to someone who is trying to get started in the film industry?
DF: I would say because the internet can do so much these days and everyone has access to a camera, go out and make as many films as you can, with your friends, with whomever. That’s how you’re going to learn and get better. If you make something and it doesn’t work, worst case scenario, no one will watch it; best case scenario, it became this viral video on the internet and people pay attention for your upcoming videos. It’s just the best way to do it; that’s what we’re doing with Funny or Die. Slowly we have been trying to evolve in terms of going from making these 2-3 minute skits to these 10 minute short films that have a narrative to them. Hopefully we will evolve even further turning some of these shorts into feature films, working with my best friend I’ve known since childhood. That’s all I can say is that just get out there, do as much as you can, fall flat on your face take risks, because at this point when you’re not in the public eye, worst case scenario, no one watches it.
Check out Dave Franco as Perry in “Warm Bodies” when it opens in theaters Friday February 1, 2013.