Franco gets serious

It's been announced that thespian, artiste, molder of young minds and sentient selfie James Franco has been cast as the lead role in the Hulu-funded adaptation of Stephen King's 11/22/63. Franco will play Jake Epping, a high school English teacher who enters a portal through time to 1958, where he begins a quest to prevent the JFK assassination. The novel was a best seller and, as it happens, one of my favorite books of all time. Maybe I'm being emotional—maybe I'm too close to the material—but holy crap: this is the most egregious casting decision since Hayden Christensen ruined Star Wars for a generation.

Look, even though I probably should be, I'm not morally opposed to the idea of James Franco. He had a good thing going on in Freaks and Geeks; I thought Rise of the Planet of the Apes was decent, even if his performance was a bit of a snooze; Pineapple Express made me laugh—though that may have been the pot. But in my mind, he's not right for Jake Epping. He's too smarmy for Jake Epping. He's just too FRANCO for Jake Epping.



Why couldn't this role have gone to someone like Damian Lewis, who possesses the humble gravitas—have you seen Band of Brothers?—plus experience with King's material (to his infinite credit, he appears 100% sincere in the Dreamcatcher adaptation). Or what about poor, hapless Tobey Maguire, who could probably really, really use the work since it's unlikely he'll squeeze into his Spidey suit one more time. I would even take Ryan "Abs" Gosling for the pure fact that he's already a goddamn hero.

Really, what we need here is a young Tom Hanksian fellow. Someone who's got the sincerity and Every Man-ness with that twinkle of impishness. Not the human embodiment of the Winking Tongue Out Emoji. But Franco's already a producer of the 9-episode series and the whole thing's being adapted by J.J. Abrams's Bad Robot Productions and Stephen King appears to be on board—though when has he not been. We've made our Franco and now we have to lie in it.

Just don't get me started on The Dark Tower.