James Franco's image -- one part Hollywood hearthrob, one part nomadic art world eccentric -- has long been a topic of discussion.
Are his multimedia abstract projects a hoax? Is he distracting from an underlying insecurity about his place in show business? Can the stoner from "Pineapple Express" really have such diverse interests?
In the sixth season opener of "Iconoclasts," the Sundance Channel and Grey Goose Entertainment series that pairs bold names from different corners of the creative universe, we get a nice dose of insight straight from the Franco's mouth.
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"There’s this public persona that’s ‘James Franco’ that’s half my creation but half of it isn’t. Half of it’s what other people write about me or how they perceive me," Franco says.
His art is "a way of using … an image that other people have created and re-presenting it."
Paired with performance artist Marina Abramovic, Franco pinpoints the moment that his successful film career failed to meet his artistic expectations. It was on Sam Raimi's "Spiderman 3," costarring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.
"I remember getting ready to do the third 'Spiderman,' just thinking, I don’t know if I can take it again. If I can take all the work that doesn’t seem to have a payoff that is equal to the effort," Franco said.
"As soon as I started branching out and pursuing my other interests I could say, 'OK … it’s a place where more earnest kinds of exploration can happen.'"
Make of him what you will, but the Ministry appreciates his candor. And perhaps Abaramovic has the best insight of all.
"James has the fever of an artist. Why must he do so many things?" she pondered. "To discover."
"Iconoclasts" airs Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. on the Sundance Channel. Check out an exclusive clip from the premiere, above.
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