James Franco Says Surfing and Hip-Hop Dancing Have Become His 'Therapy' Following Battle With Depression
By Desiree Murphy
Photo: Gavin Bond/OUT magazine
James Franco may seem like he has it all together, but behind the scenes, life isn't always that glamorous.
The 39-year-old actor covers OUT Magazine's September issue, and in his accompanying interview with the outlet he gets candid on everything from his new HBO series, The Deuce, to his past struggles with addiction and depression.
"I have a very addictive personality," he admits. "When I was a teenager I got over certain addictions, and that's when I started acting, at age 17."
"I really threw myself into it, and that became everything, to the point where I didn't even socialize," he continues. "And then after, like, 10 years of that, at age 27, I realized, 'Man, I'm so depressed. On the surface my life seems pretty good -- I have a career and everything -- but I feel isolated and lonely.'"
Sick of feeling like he was just going through the motions, Franco decided to start "a new chapter."
"I was very work-addicted, and addicted to other things -- not substances, I got over that a long time ago -- but I've recently changed my life, and this is part of my therapy," he reveals, telling OUT that surfing and hip-hop dancing are some of his favorite newfound hobbies. "Most actors come to a point in their lives where they have to reassess what they're doing and why they're doing it, and for me, after going back to school and trying to do all these other things … it's really about slowing down and trying to focus on fewer things but in a deeper, more quality-filled way."
Franco serves as director for two episodes and also portrays a dual role as twin brothers Vincent Martino and Frankie Martino in The Deuce, which chronicles the rise of prostitution and the porn industry in New York City during the '70s and '80s.
"What our show really tracks is how, as streetwalkers the women needed pimps for protection, and were very dependent on them, and how that moved indoors, into the massage parlors, and the pimps started to become obsolete because the women didn't need the same kind of protection because they weren't outside anymore," he explains. "Then post–Deep Throat, you got people moving to New York and then eventually Los Angeles and the Valley to be actors in porn without the intermediate step of prostitution. That was the second generation of people performing in porn."
Franco stars opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal in the series, and admits directing her in sex scenes was "interesting." The actress plays Eileen "Candy" Merrell, a sex worker trying to transition into adult films.
"In addition to being just an incredible actress, [she] is fearless, and she really led the charge with how she handled the sex scenes and how she handled herself, and really set the template for everyone else," he says. "If I didn't have someone like her I think it would have been really, really hard to engage in those scenes, but she just made it so easy. She's fearless."
The Deuce premieres Sept. 10 on HBO. As we patiently wait to watch Franco star in the series, press play on the video below to hear the latest update on his dating life.