In the basement of a crumbling old mansion in Los Angeles, two women dressed in 19th-century garb are beating each other senseless. One wears a white blouse with lace detailing; the other, a black frock and a gloppy stripe of blood down her face. They brawl in a stone-walled chamber, as gamblers in waistcoats and top hats cheer them on, like Downton Abbey gone Fight Club. In a makeshift dressing room directly above them, James Franco hears the ruckus through the floorboards and smiles as a young woman combs pomade into his hair. He thumbs the enormous handlebar mustache riding his upper lip. “This is fake,” he says. “So I’m sorry if it’s making me talk funny.” It’s the end of the first week of production on a film called The Mad Whale, made by a group of grad students; Franco, their professor, is about to act in a scene. “They’re in a class of mine at UCLA – I mean USC,” Franco says. He teaches at both universities and got confused for a moment. “It’s a total filmmaking class: In the fall, the writing students come up with a concept, and in the spring, I take over and we… Read full this story
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