Just when you think James Franco can't get any James Franco-ier, he starts up with something like Mapplethorpe: the James Franco-iest thing he has ever James Franco-ed. The actor/director/writer/teacher/living piece of performance art has signed up to play the lead in the developing biopic about photographer and filmmaker Robert Mapplethorpe, who stirred a great deal of controversy for his consistent themes of homoeroticism, sadomasochism, and various other subjects that were taboo or nearly during the era.
Mapplethorpe is noteworthy not solely for the controversies attached to his work, but also for his association with various artists and performers of the time—among those with whom he collaborated: Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Richard Gere and Peter Gabriel. He also headlined the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc., which has served to preserve his work and to promote the creative vision he fostered, as well as to fund research for the prevention of HIV and AIDS. Mapplethorpe died of this disease when he was forty-two.
Mapplethorpe will be one in a growing list of films to star Franco as an iconic gay figure from the 1960s/1970s. In 2008, Franco played the lover of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) in the film Milk. In 2010, Franco portrayed Allen Ginsberg, an openly gay writer member of the Beat Generation, in Howl.
The film will be directed by documentarian Ondi Timoner.