James Franco on being a man out of time in Stephen King's Hulu thriller 11.22.63

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Nov 20, 2019, 6:51 PM EST (Updated)

James Franco will have his hands full trying to save JFK, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be making the most of his jaunt back to the 1960’s in the new thriller 11.22.63.

Following on the heels of Netflix and Amazon Prime, Hulu is getting ready to take its own deep dive into highbrow genre fare. The first shot across the bow: a miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s 11.22.63, with none other than geek icon J.J. Abrams behind the scenes.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, star James Franco (who plays the titular character sent back in time to prevent JFK’s assassination) opened up about how they’ll be using the fish-out-of-water approach to look at the great things, and not so great things, of our nation’s history. The homemade apple pie was awesome. Jim Crow? Not so much.

Here’s an excerpt from his comments:

“That concept [of a man out of time] was one of my favorite things about the book and the scripts, was that Jake isn’t from this time. As an actor, I’ve done period pieces before, and in those conventional period pieces, you, as an actor, try to act like a character who’s from that period. You don’t see the seams of how the filmmakers create that period. You just want the audience to feel like, 'OK, we’re back in time.' But in this case, the character is not of that time. He becomes this really interesting figure who can point out things to the audience about what was great about the past. Like, the food tastes different, the milk tastes better, the pie is so good. And then he can point out things that were horrible or worse than they are now, like Jim Crow laws, and things like that.

It’s a unique storytelling device where the main character really becomes an ambassador for the audience to highlight different things about the past and what he’s looking at. But then in addition to that, what the character Jake has to do, is he has to fit into the past. He’s not of that time. People did things differently back then. He is essentially doing what I do as an actor when I play a role. He is taking on different colloquialisms or different sayings of a period. He is dressing in a different way. He is behaving in a different way. Because he is trying to fit into the past. And so as an actor, playing somebody who essentially is being an actor himself, I don’t know, it was just fun.”

Considering the project has evolved into an eight-part event series (as opposed to a film), it should give Abrams & Co. some breathing room to really dig into King’s premise, and have some fun with the nuts and bolts of time travel in the process.

11.22.63 is set to premiere Feb. 15 on Hulu.


(Via The Hollywood Reporter)