James Franco to Direct William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy Novel Adaptations
01.05.11 by Ryan
James Franco recently added soap opera star and Oscar host to his resume, and now he would like to add "director," as well. EW reports that Franco is interested in directing two adaptations of literary works: William Faulkner's 1930 novel As I Lay Dying and Cormac McCarthy's 1985 Western Blood Meridian. Franco's plan is to shoot the Faulkner movie this summer, with the McCarthy adaptation to follow in 2012. "I think they go together, though," Franco admitted. "I think McCarthy is really influenced by Faulkner."
The two books may share an influence, but not plot. Blood Meridian follows a teenage runaway who joins the scalp-hunting Glanton gang, while As I Lay Dying follows a family struggle to bury their deceased matriarch in Mississippi, and is told in an unconventional style using several narrators in a stream of conciousness style. Franco admits he will use a different structure for the movie version of Faulkner's classic novel.
You want to capture the tone, but you can’t work in exactly the same way. I don’t believe it’ll feel the same if you divide it as rigidly as the book, like titles that say "Cash" and then you’re with Cash [the eldest son of the Bundren family]. You can slip into the characters’ heads and give them their inner voice for a while, but it has to be more fluid because movies just work differently than books. Movies, in some ways because they deal in images, are more concrete. I want to be loyal to the book — my approach is to always be loyal in a lot a ways — but in order to be loyal I will have to change some things for the movie.
Franco does have some directing experience, having worked on some shorts as well as his directorial debut, The Broken Tower, based on the life of tragic poet Hart Crane, which recently finished shooting. Franco also shot a test sequence of Blood Meridian with actors Mark Pellegrino (as the villainous Judge Holden), Scott Glenn, Dave Franco (James' brother), and Luke Perry in order to secure the rights to McCarthy's novel.
We made that as a way to convince [producer] Scott Rudin to give us the rights. It was like, why should he give it to me when Ridley Scott didn’t make it? So I called him up and said, "I’m planning on doing this. You don’t have to give me any money, I can finance this shoot. Would you just wait? Don’t do anything with it until I show this to you." And I showed it to him and he loved it.
Scott was originally set to produce an adaptation of Blood Meridian with writer/director Todd Field. McCarthy's work has seen a lot of interest after the successful adaptation of No Country for Old Men.