Dave Franco (21 Jump Street, Fright Night, Scrubs) and Talia Tabin (TV’s Parks and Recreation) are childhood friends who find themselves in increasingly awkward and funny situations when their game of “Would You Rather” takes an unexpected twist— the choices they make start coming true. For the first time ever, they can make anything come true, just by offering it as an option in the game. Will they use their power to make their fantasies become reality, or will the temptation to mess with each other be too much to resist? Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kick-Ass) and Dave’s mother, Betsy Franco co-star
On the source of his confidence:
“Growing up, I had no intention of acting. I was pretty shy. I said maybe one word in junior high school… But I’m pretty comfortable with who I am. That has to do with having an incredible family and amazing friends who I’ve known for a long time. They keep me grounded. They’re supportive of what I do, but when it comes down to it, they don’t give a fuck what movie I’m doing or who I’m hanging out with.”
On being “James Franco’s little brother”:
“I love my brother to death and I respect him so much. He’s incredibly talented and I would love to collaborate with him… But I’ve been trying to distance myself and show people that I’m my own person despite us looking similar and having similar mannerisms. I think there are roles that he can take on that I could never touch, and vice versa. I hope people start to give me my own credit. I don’t want to be referred to as ‘James Franco’s little brother’ for the rest of my life. It’s unfortunate because we work so well together and we’d have a lot of fun.”
On doing uncomfortable sex scenes:
“The most awkward part of the Funny Or Die video ‘Go Fuck Yourself’ is that there was a double there the whole time. He’s a friend of mine, so we were able to be as comfortable as possible in very awkward situations. I’m comfortable with my sexuality, and for the sake of humor I’m willing to take it there… But there was a moment during filming when I said, ‘This is the first time that I’ve offended myself. This is bad, guys.’”
On his fear of fame:
“One part of the movie business that scares me is losing my anonymity. Granted, this is if everything works out, but I have a small freak-out moment every few months… But I’ve seen that you can be smart about fame. You don’t have to go to the biggest clubs where you’re gonna be seen. And when people approach you on the streets, for the most part they’re not coming up to say anything mean.”
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You’re as likely to have first encountered Dave Franco — yup, that’s James Franco’s younger brother — in his series of outrageously raunchy Funny or Die videos as his roles in films like Fright Night and Charlie St. Cloud, and TV shows like Scrubs and Greek. (In case you haven’t seen them, click here and here to watch the very NSFW videos.)
This week, Franco’s twin career paths converge at the SXSW Film Festival: 21 Jump Street, featuring Franco’s biggest film role to date, premieres Monday as at the Austin festival’s centerpiece film; and the night before, he will debut Would You, a comedy short penned by Franco and directed by Funny or Die pals Brian McGinn and Rod Blackhurst. The film is about two college buddies — Franco and real-life childhood friend Talia Tabin (Parks and Recreation) — who enter into a game of “would you rather” that starts to become true. It also features Franco’s buddy Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Franco’s mother Betsy. Though close-lipped about what specifically is in store, Franco promises Would You is just as outré as his previous shorts, even if that means placing his own mom in an apparently, er, delicate situation. Check out our interview below:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congrats on your short film getting to SXSW. With 21 Jump Street as the centerpiece film there, you’re gonna have a pretty busy festival.
DAVE FRANCO: Yeah, it’s crazy. Worked out pretty perfectly.
How did you come to write this project?
My friends and I, who make the Funny or Die videos, we were sitting around, debating what our next project would be. We decided to make something with a little more substance, something that felt more like a short film rather than a skit. So I came up with the idea of two college friends who play of game of “would you rather” where their choices magically come true. So there’s a little bit of a fantasy element to it. Things get weirdly sexual and uncomfortable. But I think there’s still an overall feeling of sweetness that resonates. It’ll leave the viewer in limbo, questioning how they’re supposed to react to what they’ve just seen.
You know, your Funny and Die videos have been quite “weirdly sexual.” What about that particular avenue of creativity interests you?
It’s a good question. To be honest, when I make these things, I don’t think in my head, okay, I’m going to make this shocking sex video, you know? I’m just drawn to movies and projects that are original and whether or not you like them, it at least makes you feel something. And for some reason, these ideas that I’ve ended up adapting to short films happen to have sexual elements to them. I don’t know what I’m trying to say, but I guess it’s not it’s at, like, the forefront of my mind, thinking I’m going to make a sex video. I just happen to be dealing with that stuff, I guess.
We’ve been enjoying getting to know the multi-faceted-ness of actor/writer Dave Franco over the last few years via roles on TV (“Scrubs,” “Privileged”), in films like “Fright Night,” appearances in music videos and more. In addition to his scene-stealing performance in the upcoming “21 Jump Street” reboot, it was just announced that Franco’s short film “Would You,” which he wrote, will be premiering at the SXSW Film Festival next month as part of the Narrative Short Competition.
MTV News was lucky enough to get Franco on the phone recently to chat about the inspiration behind his big debut, the raunch factor and how having his mom be a part of the cast made for a very, very uncomfortable scene.
“I happen to have been in a phase in my life where I was playing ‘Would You Rather,’ everyone goes through those phases so I incorporated that into the short,” Franco, who wrote the film, said of where the idea came from. “The short is about these two childhood friends, a girl and an guy who play a game of ‘Would You Rather’ and their choices magically come true. There is a bit of a fantasy element to it and very quickly in typical Dave Franco fashion, things get strangely sexual and uncomfortable but there is still an overall feeling of sweetness that comes through I hope, which kind of cuts the raunchiness a little bit.”
The “Dave Franco Fashion” to which he referred to can be seen in his series of FunnyOrDie videos like “Go F—Yourself” and “You’re So Hot” which are worth a viewing if you haven’t yet seen them. Franco said that “Would You” follows in that same vein, but with the addition of his mom, respected actress Betsy Franco, to the cast he took things to a whole new level for them both.
“Once people see the short they’re going to be slightly disturbed at what I put my mom through for it, but I promise you she agreed to do this under her own will,” Franco assured us, without going into any specific detail about said scene. “Keep that in mind because it gets very very weird. We couldn’t look each other in the eyes for a few hours after the scene. But I think everyone had a good time.”