HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—Porn performers got something they very rarely, if ever, receive from someone outside the industry: major praise for their acting ability, and specifically the way in which they successfully “sell” on-screen sex.
The compliment came courtesy of actor, director and writer James Franco, who is a 2010 Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture nominee for 127 Hours. His comments were made during Newsweek magazine’s annual “Oscar Roundtable” group interview, which included fellow thespians Natalie Portman, Nicole Kidman, Annette Bening, Michelle Williams and Colin Firth.
The interview, which is very funny and covers a lot of ground, starts off with a question about high-risk performances, and quickly segues into sexual territory.
“Is there a secret to landing a good kiss?” the group is asked. Kidman answered first.
“So much of that is how you capture it,” she said. “Baz Luhrmann has a particular way of setting up a kiss. On Moulin Rouge, he was extremely precise, because he revered old movies and those big screen kisses. I remember when Ewan McGregor and I were first rehearsing. I was like, ‘That felt really good.’ And Baz was like, ‘No, no.’”
Without further prodding, Franco took the discussion in an entirely new, and presumably unexpected—if not unwelcome—direction.
“I think if anybody who has made a home sex tape knows, what feels best doesn’t always look best,” he said, eliciting laughter from the others. “I remember when I was 19 doing that, and then watching it back and thinking, oh, that looks horrible. So what Nicole is talking about, yeah, you have a lot of respect for those actors in pornography, because they are really not just doing it, they’re really selling it. It’s the same thing with a kiss. It’s not just the kiss that feels best, it’s an image. Something different is happening if it’s a good kiss.”
There was no reaction from the other actors about Franco’s "respect for porn actors" comments, but during an earlier discussion prompted by Firth about mainstream actors who have actual on-screen sex in movies, the interviewees had several examples of such films at their fingertips, including Last Tango in Paris (Kidman), 9 Songs (Firth) and Brown Bunny (Portman, who added, “You can find many of them online”).
Though the interview was presumably edited for print, if there were any disparaging remarks about actors who have real sex in mainstream movies or porn, they did not make it onto the page. It’s more likely that these actors, each of whom is known for acting chops, agree with Franco that just because adult performers are really doing it on screen does not mean they do not deserve the same sort of respect Hollywood gives actors who get to join the Screen Actors Guild. Indeed, maybe SAG should take Franco’s implied suggestion and finally carve out a category for porn stars, too.
It turns out Franco may have other reasons for being so amenable to the porn profession. The very busy actor is reportedly in talks to appear in a movie about Linda Lovelace as her director husband, Chuck Traynor.
Deadline.com reports, "Kate Hudson has the offer to play the title role in Lovelace, the W. Merritt Johnson-scripted adaptation of Eric Danville's book The Complete Linda Lovelace."
Howl directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman are slated to direct.
This Linda Lovelace project is not the same as the Matthew Wilder-helmed Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story, which Lindsay Lohan was atteched to before she was replaced with Malin Ackerman in the title role.