As Daniel Desario in Freaks and Geeks
As Alien in Spring Breakers
I watched Freaks and Geeks when it first aired (1999), so distant from my own high school experience I could appreciate the sad irony of the many archetypes flailing through all that angst, acne and miscommunication. The series was my introduction to James Franco, who played Daniel Desario, the handsome stoner least likely to succeed. Sure, he was great-looking, but also likeable. Likability can act like a deflecting shield or life preserver, protecting an actor from the crash and burn of
a terrible performance or a disastrous stinker of a movie. Fool's Gold? Meh. Pineapple Express? Yawn. Eat Pray Love? Zzzz. Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Um, why?
Oh, but he was terrific in 127 Hours .
And most recently, a completely unsettling menace in Spring Breakers.
His choices of roles continues to be unpredictable, which only adds to his likability.