While discussing the upcoming film Milk in his interview with Lynn Hirschberg for the New York Times, James Franco tells her “I will be asked what it was like to kiss Sean Penn about a million times.”
“In Milk, Franco plays Scott Smith, who for many years was Harvey Milk’s boyfriend. In filming a key moment between Franco and Penn, Van Sant was partially inspired by a work by the artist Douglas Gordon in which a man and a woman are filmed kissing. ‘It just looked very real,’ says Van Sant, who was surprised to discover that Franco, who has a keen interest in art and its practitioners, knew Gordon. He also knew that, in order to capture such a natural kiss on film, Gordon had cast two people who didn’t know each other and instructed them to kiss for twelve hours. ‘Douglas was worried that he contributed to Sean and I having to kiss for twelve hours,’ says Franco. ‘It wasn’t twelve hours, but it certainly felt like it. The ﬁrst kiss of the movie was out on Haight Street, with, like, 200 people watching, outside. It was a crane shot—I’m sure in the end it will be a really cool shot, but it starts close and then it takes maybe a minute. That’s a long time on film with everybody watching and, like, a fake mustache getting in your mouth. It was long enough that you couldn’t help thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I’m kissing Spicoli.’”
Then there was the nervous, giggly prosthetic penis envy and the additional love scenes.
So as not to risk disillusioning the movie’s built-in audience, perhaps one of these times Franco could talk about how it really allowed him to tap into that gay side of himself that wanted, really wanted to just make love to Sean Penn with all his soul. Or perhaps one of the stock answers that it’s just acting and he wanted to treat the story about the nation’s first gay elected official with respect. Or, he could just shut up.