In recent years, there have been several instances of James Franco being spotted in public with different tattoos. Many have wondered whether there’s some deeper meaning behind his body art choices.
James Franco has not displayed any real tattoos to the public. He has appeared with fake tattoos on a number of occasions, both temporary tattoos applied to his body and others that were edited onto photos of him. Some of these tattoos were for roles in films while others appear to have been purely for his own enjoyment.
For more on the curious case of James Franco’s tattoos, keep reading.
The Emma Watson Tattoo
Franco caused a stir in 2015 when he posted a shirtless photo to his Instagram, where his chest was covered by a number of tattoos. There was also another tattoo on display: a very large portrait of Emma Watson’s face with her first name written beneath it.
The response was predictably intense, with half of his followers questioning whether or not the tattoo was legitimate and the other half asking when James and Emma became romantically involved. The two did work together on 2013’s “This is the End”, where Emma had a cameo portraying herself, which lent some credibility to the notion that they might have been an item.
In reality, the post was the work of Cheyenne Randall (@indiangiver on Instagram), who frequently edits tattoos onto both current and historical celebs with seamless precision. After discovering Randall’s work, Franco reached out and asked for a fictional “girlfriend tattoo”. Randall had recently seen “This is the End” and decided on Emma.
The fact that Franco tagged Randall in his post probably should have been enough to calm his followers but not everybody takes the time to read captions. It’s far from the only time he has decided to tease his fans, so we probably shouldn’t be surprised.
The Emma Watson incident is far from the only time James Franco has been seen sporting tattoos, both in and out of his film appearances. At a signing for his 2016 book of poetry “Straight James / Gay James”, Franco was seen sporting a number of tattoos on his arms as well as across his knuckles.
The book’s cover art also featured a heavily tattooed Franco, including face tattoos and a large portrait of Lana Del Rey that was reminiscent of the Emma tattoo. Rather than writing Lana’s name on his neck as he had with Emma, this time it was written above his right eyebrow in bold fashion.
This edit was also the work of Cheyenne Randall and portrayed Franco soulfully staring at his own reflection. The sleeves he displayed at the signing were temporary tattoos, a fact betrayed by the obvious lines around some of them (and by him no longer having them shortly after the appearance).
He has also worn temporary tattoos in a number of films, including “Why Him?” where his body and arms were covered with them. Franco drew a number of the tattoos himself, seeing them a chance to express himself artistically and to convey some more of his character’s personality. For example, he had a large back tattoo of his character’s family.
He appeared at the 2014 Venice Film Festival shaved bald and with a large fake tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift on the back of his head. In this case, at least, Franco was not wearing temporary tattoos purely for his own amusement. His appearance at Venice was used to shoot scenes for “Zeroville”, where Franco portrays a man obsessed with film, and the 2014 festival was used as a setting for the 1977 Venice Film Festival.
So, while James Franco has had many tattoos throughout the past decade, he has not kept any of them that we’re aware of. He likes tattoos but must enjoy being able to wash them off.