If there has been any actor with a more incongruous 2013 than James Franco, then that person is probably James Franco is disguise, as part of some underground documentary. He hosted a Hollywood apocalypse party as himself in This is the End, he was the great and powerful Oz in Oz the Great and Powerful, he thugged out for Spring Breakers and he’ll be Hugh Hefner in the upcoming biopic Lovelace. And that’s not counting all of the smaller films he’s done that are either getting released soon or are currently in the post-production process. His next directorial effort, the Cannes-premiering William Faulkner adaptation As I Lay Dying will hopefully hit theaters later this year, and it appears Franco isn’t done translating Faulkner’s words for the screen.
The L.A. Times is the rather random source revealing Franco’s next directing gig will in fact be Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, often thought to be one of the greatest novels in the English Language, and is a novel that many still deem unfilmable, despite it already being a 1959 feature from director Martin Ritt. In other words, it’s a project almost bubbling over with pretention, but considering Franco has already played Allen Ginsberg and directed the upcoming biopic Bukowski, there’s no reason he shouldn’t latch onto Faulkner.
Franco says he’ll also star in the film, which he co-wrote with Matt Rager, who was also involved in the screenwriting for As I Lay Dying. If all things go correctly, he wants Mad Men’s Jon Hamm to play the film’s patriarch Mr. Compson, and while it’s looking like it could happen, they’ll have to sort through scheduling issues to get it done. Franco also wants his brother Dave (Now You See Me) to play the neurotic and suicidal Quentin Compson, and says that Danny McBride, who was also in As I Lay Dying, should also be starring in The Sound and the Fury.
The film already has most of its financing in place, though you can still fund Franco’s Palo Alto film trio here. He’ll be working with those films, along with filming Wim Winders’ drama Everything Will Be Fine with Sarah Polley, while he works on ironing out all of The Sound and the Fury’s details.
In a nutshell, Faulkner’s novel is a multi-narrative Southern Gothic tale about the Compson family told from four different perspectives, one of which is the mentally deficient Benny. The story and its subsequent appendix cover many years in the family’s life, detailing their financial and social ruin. A lot more than that happens, but not really, as this is a story that lives in the way it is told more so than a laundry list of conflicts and climaxes.
Franco aims to shoot the film as early as this fall, but that’s subject to change of course. Check out the trailer for As I Lay Dying below to get a feel for how Franco’s point-of-view adheres to Faulkner’s southern storytelling.