James Edward Franco is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, author, and painter. He began acting during the late 1990s, appearing on the short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks and starring in several teen films. In 2001 he played the title role in Mark Rydell's television biographical film James Dean, which earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film.
Franco achieved international fame with his portrayal of Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man trilogy. Since then, his films have included the war film The Great Raid (2005), the 2006 romantic drama Tristan & Isolde, and Justin Lin's drama Annapolis (2006). In 2008, Franco starred in the comedy stoner film Pineapple Express and received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. He played a prominent role in the 2008 biographical film Milk. In 2010, he played the lead role in Howl as Allen Ginsberg, and 127 Hours, a film about Aron Ralston, an American mountaineer who cut off his own arm to free himself after he was trapped beneath a boulder. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.
In 2010, Franco published a collection of short stories called Palo Alto. The book is named after the California city where Franco grew up and is dedicated to many of the writers he worked with at Brooklyn College. The book has received mixed reviews; Los Angeles Times called it "the work of an ambitious young man who clearly loves to read, who has a good eye for detail, but who has spent way too much time on style and virtually none on substance". The Guardian said that "The Hollywood star's foray into the literary world may be met with cynicism in some quarters, but this is a promising debut from a most unlikely source."