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James Edward Franco was born in Palo Alto, California, to the family of Silicon Valley businessman Douglas Eugene Franco, the son of Portuguese and Swedish immigrants, and actress Betsy Lou (nee Verne), the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Russia with the surname of "Verovitz" that would later be changed to Verne – to easier go off a Westerner's tongue.
 
The actor showed great promise in mathematics in his youth, even interning at Lockheed Martin for a while! But then came the teenage angst and insecurity, which changed the child prodigy to a juvenile delinquent: Franco was arrested for drinking, painting graffiti and even being a member of a gang that used to steal designer fragrances from department stores and resell them! Interestingly, later Franco would be contracted as the face of Gucci's line of men's fragrances.
 
However, he had always felt his place was not in the study rooms or in the streets, but on the stage... The destiny knocked on his door when he was selected for... a television commercial for Pizza Hut! Franco's big break came in 1999, when he was cast in a leading role on the cult NBC television series Freaks and Geeks. And international fame came to Franco thanks to his role in the 2002 superhero film Spider-Man and its later installments - he played Harry Osborn, the son of the Green Goblin and best friend of the Spider-Man. 
 
Franco was originally considered for the lead role of Spider-Man, but in the end the lead went to Tobey Maguire.
 
In 127 Hours (2010) Franco portrayed real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston, whose hand got trapped under a boulder in a ravine – Ralston had to amputate it with whatever little and unsuitable tools he had on him at the moment. During the five-week, 12-hours-per-day shoot, Franco would only leave the set to use the toilet, and this workaholic attitude paid for itself: the box office sales were nearly triple the budget of the picture!
 
Franco's hard-working and serious attitude to filming is legendary in Hollywood. For example, to star in a historical film, he took an eight-month course of boxing, horseback riding and sword fighting. And to play a pilot in Flyboys, he didn't just try on various goggles and leather jackets to make him look good before the camera - he completed real training for his Private Pilot Licence!
 
Franco was voted the Sexiest Man Living in 2009 by Salon.com
 
Despite quite a busy filming schedule, Franco always found time for his main hobby - studying and teaching! He simultaneously attended Columbia University's MFA writing program, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for filmmaking, as well as Brooklyn College's fiction writing courses plus MFA Program for Writers at North Carolina's Warren Wilson College! Now he is teaching young talents to convert poetry into short films.
 
No wonder his scholarly affairs interfere with his love affairs! Not long ago he split with actress Ahna O'Reilly, saying the relationship and constant exhausting studies do not mix. Before that he had a much more stable five-year romance with his co-star Marla Sokoloff.
 
James Franco has a younger brother, Dave Franco, also a successful actor, best known for his roles in 21 Jump Street, Fright Night, Now You See Me, Warm Bodies, Neighbors and the Scrubs. And in 2012 he was voted number two in Shalom Life's list of 50 most beautiful Jewish men in the world.
 
Sources:  
"James Franco Biography (1978–)" – FilmReference.com (2013)
 "Carrol Verovitz in the 1940 Census" – Ancestry.com

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