Dave Franco was born on June 12, 1985 in Palo Alto, California. He was born the youngest of three boys, in Palo Alto, California, the son of Betsy (née Verne), a poet, author, and editor, and Doug Franco (1948–2011), who met as students at Stanford University. Franco’s father was of Portuguese and Swedish descent. Franco’s mother is Jewish (from a family of Russian Jewish ancestry, with her parents having changed the surname from “Verovitz” to “Verne”); Dave has stated that he is “proud” to be Jewish. Franco’s paternal grandmother, Marjorie (Peterson) Franco, is a published author of young adult books. Franco’s maternal grandmother, Mitzie (Levine) Verne, owns the Verne Art Gallery, a prominent art gallery in Cleveland, and was an active member in the National Council of Jewish Women. Franco grew up in California with his two brothers, Tom and James.
An avid writer, he began writing before he pursued an acting career. His poems have been published in Teen People magazine, and has also written two screenplays while studying psychology and film at the University of Southern California.
Dave Franco’s plans never initially included a foray into acting, as he considered himself a shy kid in high school. However, he took the opportunity to come out of his shell through the profession. He made his acting debut in an episode of the family drama 7th Heaven in 2006. He followed it up with lesser known appearances, such as the films Frat Bros. and After Sex. He then appeared as Greg, a soccer player, in the surprise hit Superbad. Franco’s next project became television series, as he booked a role in the comedy series Do Not Disturb. He played the role of Gus, appearing alongside Jerry O’Connell and Niecy Nash. The series was canceled in 2008, with only about five episodes airing on the FOX Network.
In May 2008, he was cast in The CW teen drama television series Privileged. The series centered on a live-in tutor for two spoiled heiresses in Palm Beach. Franco was cast in an initial major recurring role. The series premiered on September 9, 2008 to 3.1 million viewers. Ratings continued to slip each week with the series sixth episode reaching 1.837 million viewers. The CW did not renew the series for a second season due to low ratings.
In August 2009, Variety announced Franco was cast in a regular role for the ninth season of the ABC sitcom series Scrubs. Franco portrayed the role of “Cole Aaronson”, a medical student, whose family paid a large sum of money to Sacred Heart Hospital to receive an internship. Franco went on to appear in all thirteen episodes of the ninth season and received praise from critics for his performance; however, the ninth season was the final season of the series.
MTV Networks’ NextMovie.com named him one of the Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011. In August 2011, Franco starred in the 3D horror comedy film Fright Night alongside Colin Farrell and Toni Collette. The film is a remake of the 1985 film of the same name and follows a teenage boy who finds out his neighbor is a vampire. Franco played the role of popular high school student Mark. The film received positive reviews from critics and went on to make over $41 million worldwide.
In April 2012, Shalom Life ranked him and his brother James at number 2 on its list of “the 50 most talented, intelligent, funny, and gorgeous Jewish men in the world”. In March 2012, Franco starred in the Columbia Pictures action comedy film, 21 Jump Street, as Eric, a high school student and the lead drug dealer. The film was based on the 1987 television series of the same name.
In 2013, he co-starred in the zombie romance film Warm Bodies, as Perry Kelvin. The film, an adaptation of the best-selling novel Warm Bodies, followed a romance between a zombie and a human during a zombie apocalypse. Also in the same year, Franco appeared alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Mélanie Laurent, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Isla Fisher in the ensemble crime thriller film Now You See Me. To promote the film, he was interviewed on the Bob Rivers Show, out of Seattle. Rivers persuaded Franco to show the card-throwing abilities he had learned and Franco expertly sliced half a banana into a further half with his hotel card.
Franco’s 2014 roles included the Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors and a cameo appearance in 22 Jump Street.
Upcoming roles include playing Greg Sestero in the film The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, reprising his role of Jack Wilder in the film Now You See Me: The Second Act, and co-starring with Vince Vaughn and Tom Wilkinson in Unfinished Business.