James Franco has played many characters over the years — James Dean, Aron Ralston, Saul Silver, Daniel Desario — but few would leave him as bitter as his part as Tristan in “Tristan + Isolde.” The actor has previously talked about the troubled production of that 2006 Kevin Reynolds film, but he once again lays it candidly out in an article he recently penned for The Daily Beast.
“I learned a lot from doing the film ‘Tristan & Isolde.’ It was a big mistake. I was an overzealous young actor and wanted to make great movies. I read the script and wasn’t sure about it, but my acting teacher said it was a role that a young Brando or Olivier would do. I thought, ‘OK…I guess,'” Franco recounts. One of the items he has talked about previously is the extensive training he did for the movie…which would end up pointless: “I signed on to the project nine months in advance, and spent every day sword fighting in the backyard of my girlfriend at the time, Marla Sokoloff. I had martial-arts trainers and we’d make sword-fighting videos back there, and then I’d go over to Griffith Park and ride these Andalusian movie horses through the hills,” he explained. “When I got out to Ireland to shoot, they said they had a new version of the script and all the ‘Braveheart’-style battle scenes were changed to stealthy murders. All the training I did was useless.”
When the shoot moved to Prague, Franco suffered an injury which would later require surgery, and butted heads with the director. All told, it was a sour experience, but it left him with a moral he shares with any other up and comers out there: “The lesson was that I will never do a movie again that I don’t have a special feeling for. I know now that you feel it somewhere in your gut when you believe in a movie, and that’s why you should do it. Don’t do a movie you wouldn’t see or don’t believe in, because movies can be hell to make.”