James Franco is one of the more enigmatic figures in Hollywood today, frequently surprising audiences with appearances in unexpected projects. One of these roles had people questioning whether or not the actor is capable of speaking Spanish.
James Franco does not speak Spanish. This confusion likely stems from his role in “Hollywood Heights”, which was loosely based on a Mexican telenovela. However, “Hollywood Heights” was an English language show and we have no other reason to believe that Franco can speak Spanish.
For some more information about James Franco’s role in “Hollywood Heights” and the confusion, it caused, keep reading.
It’s possible that Franco’s name and family history might have created some confusion. However, Franco’s father has Portuguese and Swedish ancestry, not Spanish, and it’s from Portugal that he gets his surname.
On his mother’s side of the family, he is of Russian-Jewish descent. Despite his family history ranging from across the width of Europe, there is no public record of James Franco being part Spanish.
His upbringing, in his own words, was “academic, liberal, and largely secular”. Despite doing well in school and joining UCLA as an English major, he dropped out in his first year of college in order to pursue acting, against his parents’ wishes. This was motivated largely due to the fact that he wouldn’t be able to audition for the college’s theatre group until a couple of years into his schooling.
Fortunately, his successful acting career is proof that the brave gamble paid off and he has been a guest lecturer at several colleges, including returning to UCLA to host a screenwriting course.
The only other obvious reason for wondering whether or not James Franco speaks Spanish is his role in “Hollywood Heights”, the 2012 primetime soap. The series was based on a 1990 Mexican telenovela, “Alcanzar una estrella”, which means “To reach a star”. Both series featured the same basic concept: an aspiring singer-songwriter meets her musical idol and her life transforms overnight.
The series gained some extra attention when Franco signed on to appear in the series as Osborne Silver, a cold-hearted movie mogul. As the series was based on a Mexican telenovela and fit the same genre, there was some confusion with people thinking that Franco was actually appearing in a Mexican series rather than an American reimagining of one.
In any case, his appearances on the series were a surprise, especially coming a year after his Academy Award-nominated performance in “127 Hours” just a year earlier.
James Franco received a lot of attention in 2009 when he appeared on an episode of “General Hospital” as a multi-media artist and serial killer, also named Franco. Even more surprising was the fact that his role was not a one-time guest appearance but one that made continued sporadically for three years.
Part of Franco’s motive for requesting the role was apparently to create a documentary based on his experiences working on the show. It’s not entirely clear why he decided to reenter the TV landscape with “Hollywood Heights”, whether it was to find more material for his other work or to enjoy a less high-pressure project than starring in movies.
He clearly enjoyed himself chewing the scenery as his maniacal “General Hospital” character and possibly wanted another opportunity to ham it up for the camera. One thing is for sure, telenovela or not, James Franco’s role in “Hollywood Heights” did not require the use of any Spanish, and, as far as we’re able to prove, he doesn’t speak it.