James Franco, 39, might be a handsome movie star now, but back in the day, he needed a little something extra to impress the ladies — or at least he thought he did.
The 127 Hours actor revealed in a new interview with W Magazine that one of his tactics was to get dates from the place where he worked for about three months in between dropping out of UCLA and landing a spot on Freaks and Geeks: the McDonald’s drive-thru window. (Yep, you read that right.)
However, Franco, who’s reportedly romanced model Erin Johnson and singer Lana Del Rey, admitted that the dates with the women he met while taking their orders didn’t go very well.
“I was in acting class, and I would practice different accents in the drive-thru, like really bad accents. But people believed me,” Franco said. “So I’d be like [in terrible Italian-American accent] ‘Hey, welcome to McDonald’s. May I help you?’ You know, like, that bad. And I’d always know that they were interested ‘cause they’d come back around.
“So, you know, a young lady would be like, ‘Oh, I forgot the, uh, strawberry milkshake.’ She’d come back and she’d be like, ‘Well, I’m trying to learn Italian. Maybe you could give me some Italian lessons.’ I’d go [in accent], ‘Yeah, yeah, sure.’ But then there were a couple, I guess, with my Irish accent or, like, my Brooklyn accent — those I could go out on dates with. You know, we went to see Titanic, and I had to keep it up. You know, so like [in equally bad Brooklyn accent], ‘Whoa, Leonardo. Wow, he was amazing. Yo, oh.’”
Eventually, Franco would come clean — though not exactly by choice.
“Then I always had to break it to ‘em, ‘cause they’d call me, and it was before cell phones. So I’d pick up the phone, I didn’t know who it was. And I’d be like [in regular voice], ‘Hello?’”
“And they’d be like, ‘James, is that you? What happened to your accent?’ It was always the worst, as if I was this huge imposter. I just saw this play, Dear Evan Hansen. It was sort of like that. Like, I had to come clean: ‘Hey, I’m not from Brooklyn. I’m from Palo Alto.’ And they just look at me like I’m a complete stranger. And it usually ended right there.”
In April 2014, Franco infamously had another misstep in the dating world, when he used Instagram to flirt with a 17-year-old high school student from Scotland he’d met while performing “Of Mice and Men” on Broadway. She took a screenshot of a text conversation between them and, to Franco’s humiliation, shared it with the world.
“I’m embarrassed and I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky,” he said on Live With Kelly and Michael. “It’s the way that people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned — I guess because I’m new to it — is you don’t know who’s on the other end.”
He added, “I used bad judgement and I learned my lesson.”
Fans can hear Franco try out his fake accent when he plays a guy from Brooklyn on the upcoming HBO drama series The Deuce, premiering September 10.
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