Dave Franco may be the sibling of one of the most talked about actors in the game, but don’t get it twisted, Dave spins his effortless Franco charisma in a whole new way.
James Franco’s younger bro stars as a handsome, popular high school guy, who just so happens to be a drug dealer in the upcoming remake of the iconic TV series 21 Jump Street.
With his sexy half smile, good bone structure and slight hipster appeal, Dave doesn’t suffer from the so-called sibling shadow syndrome. After appearing in some Funny or Die skits with James and following them up with small parts in Superbad and Charlie St. Cloud, Dave is jumping into the big time alongside Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill for the Jump Street film remake.
His character Eric is a normal high school kid, except for the fact that he peddles a super popular drug around his high school campus. Channing and Jonah are two doofus cops who go undercover as students, buddy up to Eric and try to bust his operation. Let’s just say, hilarity ensues.
GlobalGrind got the chance to catch up with Dave on the New Orleans set of 21 Jump Street last summer. We chatted about high school relationships and what it’s like to play the cool kid.
Check it out below and catch 21 Jump Street in theaters on March 16th!
Talk about being one of the cool kids in this movie. These are atypical cool kids, at least from what we’d think of in a movie.
I play Eric Molson. Obviously, Jonah and Channing are undercover cops infiltrating a high school to stop the spread of a new drug called HFS—Holy F*cking Sh*t. I play the main drug dealer at school. It’s been fun. Like you said, it’s a very atypical cool kid. Rather than being the jock or the big man on campus, he’s kind of a friendly hipster. Everything he does is very environmentally conscious, but at the same time he’s selling the least organic drug of all time. There’s this weird dynamic going on. And you slowly realize that he’s totally full of sh*t. It’s been fun not playing the straight asshole that I keep getting cast as. I’m not sure how to take it anymore.
What about the element of an open relationship in high school?
I was actually trying to think back to when I was in high school, and how much that actually went down. I think it’s a little true to life, where everyone’s hooking up with everyone. I think between friends even, sometimes they kind of encourage each other to hook up with the same girls. They think it’s kinda cool. It bonds them. Everyone’s throwing around a term, “Eskimo Bros” these days.
I’m not one of these people! Just for the record. But I think it’s a little more true to life. It kinda goes along with who the character is: being free and open, down for whatever. I think there’s a line, “Everyone should be free to do what they want and who they want.”
Did you get to improv jokes?
Definitely. Each scene goes completely haywire for the most part. At first, it was very intimidating. [I was] working with — not to be dramatic — some of the biggest people in comedy. Best improvisers out there. But then you realize, when you’re working with these people who are at the top of their game, they make you a lot funnier than you normally would be. When you make a mistake, they turn your mistake into gold. If I end up being at all funny in this movie, I give total credit to all the other actors. They’re a lot funnier than I am.
We were talking about going against expectations [with Channing and Jonah]. When their characters go back to high school, the reality isn’t what they expected. Can you talk about that?
It goes along with the idea that my group of friends is the atypical cool group of guys. I think the cool guys in most movies would not accept a character like Jonah. But we bring him in because of a few things: first, he compliments me on everything I do. So, you like people that like you. He builds me up. He’s kind of a Yes Man. He’s done his research on me. He knows to play into the whole eco-friendly card. We’re these guys that are like, unless you do us wrong, we have no reason to dislike you. Channing’s character comes in and punches my friend in the face within minutes of meeting him. So, he’s written off right away in our eyes. And like I said, Jonah’s just out to please, so we accept him.
Is your character’s free-spirited attitude what leads him to become a drug dealer?
I was talking to the directors about that when we were first getting going. This isn’t really explored in the movie at all, except for maybe a look at one point. My character comes from overbearing parents. Like I said, you’re never going to see any of this in the movie. It’s just subtext and background. Not to be over actor-y. He comes from a very wealthy family. We talked about how maybe I was neglected growing up, and this is me acting out. And I just get way in over my head.
What does this drug actually do?
There’s four phases to it. The first one, I think, is called “The Gigs.” You just laugh uncontrollably. The second one is…Oh God, what’s the second one?! I think it’s that you become overly confident. And then you go to…well, the third one or the last one is actually called “Holy F*cking Sh*t,” where you just go bat-sh*t crazy. I’m missing one.
Does your character go through these in the film?
No, which I’m glad to say. That would be bad if I really didn’t know the script well enough if I actually went through it. That’s why I don’t know all four phases.
From personal experience, do you think that girls in high school go for guys like Eric? Badass, cool guys?
[Laughs]. I don’t know what girls go for these days! I feel like the whole hipster vibe is in. I hope this doesn’t come across as me bashing hipsters at all, because I’m almost there myself. You see beautiful girls with really—oh, God, if I say this, it’s just going to come across that I’m bashing [them].
I’m not going to say it. Let’s just say, I think the hipster thing is in these days.
What makes you so badass?
Me, personally? Oh, Jesus…
[Laughs]. No. That’s one of the last ways I’d describe myself.
All of you are playing younger characters. Was there any question of whether you guys could pull off playing that age range? Did you have to change something about yourself to look more the part?
I wish I could say that I did. I’m twenty-five, looking eighteen. To be honest, I got to a point where, preferably, I would not play high school age anymore. Not to be pretentious, but I would love to play characters closer to my age. At the same time, I’m not complaining. Work is work. With something like this, I didn’t mind at all. It’s such a great script. I’ll play twelve years old in this if they want me to. But for the most part, everyone always says it’s beneficial to look young for your age in this business. But God damnit, I just want to look twenty-five sometimes!