Tyrese Gibson does not like James Franco, but in Franco’s defense, the high-cheekboned thespian was a different animal 10 years ago. He had fully embraced the method style of acting in which you drench yourself in the peculiarities, settings, and psychological states of the character you’re portraying. Take his role in City by the Sea for example. “So on City by the Sea, I slept on the streets and all that. Was it necessary or not? Who’s to say? But I did it.”
Franco used to throw himself so deep into his roles, that he couldn’t even enjoy the experience. “It wasn’t even fun. It was a horrible way to work. I was miserable. I wanted to quit.”
Seth’s Rogen’s Hollywood buddy seems much more relaxed these days, and maybe it’s from all the secondhand smoke he’s inhaled from hanging around with his The Interview co-star (Franco does not smoke weed), but back in 2006, Franco was not such a jovial guy to be around when he was working. Tyrese Gibson, who co-starred with Franco in the Navy boxing drama Annapolis, can attest to that fact.
“I hear he wants to blow up my hotel room,” James Franco told GQ Magazine in an interview back in 2008.
To properly frame the tension between Franco and Gibson, first take a gander at this promotional interview during the media circuit to promote Annapolis in 2006.
(Jump to 2:48 to see the elephant in the room)
Did you catch the feigned giggles escaping from Franco’s mouth? The words forming then crumbling from his lips? His fingers latching then swinging open like saloon doors in a dust storm as he rocks back and forth? That’s called uncomfortableness.
The trouble began on the set of the aforementioned film that sees Franco’s character struggling through his Naval training, which climaxes with a boxing tournament that pits him against his commanding officer, played by Gibson.
Annapolis director Justin Lin spoke to Huffington Post last year in response to some not-so-nice things Franco had to say about his experience on the film.
There are people who like that film — the film did well in home video — the reviews are maybe not what we had hoped for. But it was also a genre that’s very hard to make. And James worked very hard; he got in great shape. And there were a lot of issues when we were shooting, but, we got it done. We made the film.
A lot of issues, i.e. Gibson and Franco were not playing nice.
Leading up to the final fight sequence, Franco and Gibson were routinely sparring against each other, going through the movements that would eventually be staged in front of the camera. Franco’s acting methodology did not leave much room for pseudo punches.
I was always like, ‘James, lighten up, man. We’re just practicing.’ He never lightened up.
When it came time for the final cinematic showdown, Franco flexed his method muscles, slugging Tyrese in the face several times. Gibson did not approve.
“James Franco is a Method actor,” Gibson said in an interview with Elle magazine. “I respect Method actors, but he never snapped out of character. Whenever we’d have to get in the ring for boxing scenes, and even during practice, the dude was full-on hitting me.”
For his part, Franco has come forward and owned up to the fact that he was a d*ck on the set of Annapolis, and furthermore, he thinks Tyrese is a “sweet guy,” which leaves the door open for Annapolis 2: BroMan-apolis, or at least a congenial relationship we can get behind.
I take full blame for any problems on that film. If he had a bad experience working with me, I was probably a jerk. I was not purposely cruel to him, but I was probably so wrapped up in my performance that I was not as friendly as I could have been. This is such a stupid issue I can’t believe I’m still talking about it. But when I’m asked about it in the press it makes it seem as if it’s still an issue. I think Tyrese is a sweet guy with a good heart. I wish him all the best.
Tyrese, on the other hand, is not interested in burying the hatchet with Franco. He let the world know exactly how he felt about Franco’s Roberto Duran impersonation in a 2007 Playboy interview. “I never want to work with him again, and I’m sure he feels the same way. It felt very personal. It was f**ked-up.”
And so ends our fairy tale children. These two behemoths of brawn, these studs of cinematic bravado — they just can’t get along. Not everyone has to, as the world — especially Hollywood — is full of people with conflicting personalities and interests, and that’s just fine.
Franco, though, is still clinging to the notion that somewhere, somehow, he and Gibson will be able to exchange a firm, Spartacus-hand-on-forearm handshake that will instantly transport the two to a field of lilies, where they can prance and laugh and commend each other on their pearlescent smiles. Franco said in an interview with Complex magazine:
We’ve made up, or I tried to make up with him. Maybe I was too into that role. I don’t try to be mean to anybody on a movie. In the past I’ve tended to isolate (myself), and maybe people take that as me being rude or me not liking them, but it’s really a way for me to stay in my character. I really had nothing personal against Tyrese, but I guess there were a lot of misunderstandings.