The 127 Hours star, who will co-host the Oscars in February (11), was desperate to turn Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian into a movie - but Scott Rudin, the producer behind the project, was unsure about hiring the actor as his director.
So Franco turned to his pals and family and asked them to star in a test sequence he financed - in the hope it would prove he had what it took to become a filmmaker.
The movie star tells EW.com, "I called him (Rudin) up and said, 'I’m planning on doing this. You don’t have to give me any money, I can finance this shoot. Would you just wait? Don’t do anything with it until I show this to you.’ And I showed it to him and he loved it."
As a result, Franco got the job - and now his career as a director is on track; he is in talks to take charge of a new biopic of movie icon Sal Mineo and he has begun discussions with writer William Faulkner’s estate executors and is working on convincing them to grant him permission to turn the classic As I Lay Dying, about a family's attempt to honour a loved one's wishes to be buried in a specific town, into a movie.
The actor has already lined up financial backing for the project, should he win over Faulkner's estate - Fox Searchlight executives have signed on to develop the work, which Franco hopes to start production on in early 2012.