James Franco — man of many talents — says a lot of things and puts his name to a lot of projects. Like any artist worth his salt, or any person with good taste in literature, Franco has begun to circle the works of Cormac McCarthy with the hopes of bringing them to the big screen. Earlier this year, it was reported that Franco was attached to direct “Blood Meridian” — a forever in the works feature adaptation that has seen high profile names like Ridley Scott, John Hillcoat, Michael Haneke and Todd Field attempt to take it on in the past — but little was heard about it since. Well, taking a jaunt up to Toronto this week to help promote his ambitious installation/documentary piece “Memories of Idaho,” created out of the dailies for Gus Van Sant‘s “My Own Private Idaho,” Franco stopped by the TIFF Bell Lightbox for a Q&A and We Got This Covered were there to catch his update on “Blood Meridian” and the new McCarthy adaptation he’s working on.
“We shot a 20 minute test of it [‘Blood Meridian’] that turned out pretty well…we were gearing up to do the feature but that for various reasons is on hold, but we are going to make a movie based on his [Cormac McCarthy’s] third book ‘Child Of God,’” Franco said.
The test shoot of “Blood Meridian” happened a while ago with Mark Pellegrino as the iconic villain Judge, with Scott Glenn, Dave Franco and uh, Luke Perry, all in unnamed roles. It was likely done by James Franco to show producer Scott Rudin what kind of flavor he would bring to what is arguably McCarthy’s most celebrated book, but as for why “Blood Meridian” is yet again on the sidelines is unclear. Given how long it’s been in development, it seems he’s still waiting for the perfect alchemy of talent and vision to come along and get it right. But as for “Child Of God,” it will be interesting to see just how real this project is.
The book tells the tale of Lester Ballard, a violent man who lives in exile outside society, dabbling in crime, necrophilia and pedophilia. Fun! Here’s the Amazon book description:
“Scuttling down the mountain with the thing on his back he looked like a man beset by some ghast succubus, the dead girl riding him with legs bowed akimbo like a monstrous frog.” Child of God must be the most sympathetic portrayal of necrophilia in all of literature. The hero, Lester Ballard, is expelled from his human family and ends up living in underground caves, which he peoples with his trophies: giant stuffed animals won in carnival shooting galleries and the decomposing corpses of his victims. Cormac McCarthy’s much-admired prose is suspenseful, rich with detail, and yet restrained, even delicate, in its images of Lester’s activities. So tightly focused is the story on this one “child of God” that it resembles a myth, or parable. “You could say that he’s sustained by his fellow men, like you…. A race that gives suck to the maimed and the crazed, that wants their wrong blood in its history and will have it.”
Of course, whether this comes to pass or remains a Post-It on the James Franco Idea Board remains to be seen. He also spent part of last year talking up an adaptation of William Faulkner‘s “As I Lay Dying” — which he also shot a test for — but that is still more just a kernel of an idea than anything else. But still, Franco + classic literature? We’re concerned, but we’ll give him a shot. Still lots to come from Franco The Director including “Sal” which recently premiered in Venice and “The Broken Tower” which was picked up last month by Focus Features.