My Favorite Mistake: James Franco

Article excerpt

Byline: James Franco

On the film set from hell.

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."

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.

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.

Midway through the shoot I was doing a scene and all of a sudden it felt like someone hit me on the side of my knee with a baseball bat. We just taped it up, but when they took the bandages off at the end of the day, my knee was three times its normal size.

At that point we were shooting in Prague, so they took me to this hospital there that looked like a subway station. I didn't trust it. The doctor looked at it and said, "We need to operate immediately! It's your ACL." I was like, "Whoa, I need a second opinion." We had three weeks left of filming and they drained my knee every other day, which was hell. Every morning, I'd go to this physical-therapy place and this woman would massage my leg, and I don't know why, but she'd be playing the soundtrack to Twin Peaks over and over. We had to shut down production. …