James Franco Has a Prosthetic Penis in Gus Van Sant's Milk?!

August 13, 2008

James Franco

James Franco continues his media domination as of late donning the cover of this month's GQ and before that appearing on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Putting career commentary and Pineapple Express experiences aside in these pieces, the juiciest bit of news seems to be the intimate scenes between Franco and co-star Sean Penn. Penn plays the first openly gay elected politician, Harvey Milk, while Franco assumes the role of love interest, Scott Smith. Not only do the two kiss, but they also have a couple of nude scenes together in which each is wearing a prosthetic penis. Say what?! I think most knew Gus Van Sant's Milk was gay-centric, but I doubt folks knew Franco and Penn got so close. Is Milk this year's Brokeback Mountain?

For the kiss, the GQ article (via our friends at SlashFilm) helps contextualize things a bit, indicating that it's not meant to be gratuitous, but squarely a positive an influence on the story as a whole. Franco still considers it a pretty unusual experience, however.

"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.'"

As for the nude scenes, Franco went into detail of these sequences on Jimmy Kimmel's show last week, which you can see in this YouTube video at about 4:45. It's hard not to be befuddled when Franco describes one of the scenes. "We're both dancing and we're both naked, and we both now had prosthetic penises. He finally put it together that I'm wearing the Boogie Nights prosthetic. And he said 'James that time in the pool!' And I said 'Yeah I was wearing the prosthetic.' And he said 'God, I'm so relieved.' And then, he's like 'You show me your prosthetic, I'll show you mine.'"

When it comes down to it, the whole affair is pretty interesting. I don't want to say funny, because I feel that would belittle the intended direction and purpose of Milk. For whatever risque scenes there might be in the film, the story is a serious look at a historical figure who was tragically assassinated. However juicy the news might be right now, I imagine Van Sant will present these scenes in a pretty artful way. And I imagine Franco prove another dimension as an actor. All in all, this makes Milk a pretty compelling film to catch come December. Does any of this make you want to see the movie even more?

Find more posts: Movie News, Opinions



This movie sounds gay.

tommyturner on Aug 13, 2008


lol. its just a movie..

Buttons on Aug 13, 2008



BrokeBack on Aug 13, 2008



Itri on Aug 13, 2008


umm, i think that franco has lost all of the coolness has just gained by doing pineapple express. what's with all the hot actors doing gay flicks?

BRBomber on Aug 13, 2008


The movie sounds interesting and with penn, franco and hirsch headlining the movie it might actually be a movie worth watching..

Viral on Aug 13, 2008


I think this sounds amazing. Not because I will get to see some fake shlongs, but because I've never heard of using prosthetic genitals before, and I'm always interested in how movies are made. I have faith that Van Sant will give us a very unique and artistic vision, which is always a treat.

Kelley and Alec on Aug 13, 2008


Yeah, right. We all believe it's NOT the fake shlongs that are fueling your interest in this movie.

tommyturner on Aug 14, 2008


prosthetic genitals? Ok from a female perspective I dont get this ... Are the prosthetics to make them look larger? Or are they just to make these gaystupid hetero men feel less ... gay .... ? Because its called ACTING and no one really cares if you are wearing a prosthetic ... its not like women who play lesbian roles have prosthetic breasts ... just for the purpose of filming. If they are going to kiss in the film why not have prosthetic lips ... ? So can someone explain the fake shlongs?

E on Aug 14, 2008


Van San + Pen + Franco + Milk's interesting story + me having no fear of seeing a peter, prosthetic or not = me in the theaters watching this in December.

kevjohn on Aug 15, 2008


Number 10, I think the effect of having a prosthetic penis for one or two of the actors on screen is simply because their actual genitals may not fit the storyboard or the genitals on these specific actors is not appealing to the integrity of the film. So they create prosthetics which would be more suitable in regards to the scene(s) in question. I'll agree, its fair to ask the question if its to make them look larger, but I sincerely doubt that's what their after. In the same vein as the "kiss" shot where the camera is supposedly on a crane in order to make that scene artsy, I think the same follows for the full frontal nude scene via prosthetics for both Sean Penn and James Franco. I appreciate Gus Van Sant, I think he will make a tasteful picture of Harvery Milk and his lover, Scott Smith - played by Franco. As for everyone else claiming that this movie looks "gay", are you saying because the movie has homosexuality in it, then its a fag pic or some type of bias politically incorrect atrocity? No, the only atrocity in that in this day and age in North America - heck, the whole world still sees homosexuality to be such an extreme topic. The characters were gay, but its not a story of being gay! Grow a brain and lose the chip...jeez.

Conrad on Aug 15, 2008


the movie does sound intriguing because of the historical portrait and a pretty cool cast. however i don't agree that actors 'portray a deeper layer or dimension' in their craft when filming intimate gay scenes, especially when wearing prosthetic genitals. what is up with that anyway? what's the reasoning?

efrain on Sep 25, 2008


Well I just saw the movie, and all the discussion of prostheses is academic - because whatever scene they were nude in must have been cut. No full frontal scenes whatsoever, fake or otherwise. FANTASTIC movie, by the way.

Patrick on Dec 14, 2008


I've seen the movie twice and I've yet to see any full frontal, so all this talk about these scenes and they were cut from the movie??

loftboy79 on Jan 5, 2009


LOVE it ! its the best movie ever to hit theaters its called acting whoever has something negative to say about it is insecure about themselves and their own sexuality.

Nicholas on Jan 13, 2009


Saw the movie and still don't see what all the fuss is about. It's about the gay movement in SF in the 70's. As for the acting, it was ok, but seriously I just don't get why when a man plays a gay role he is cast as an amazing actor. The acting was ok, but nothing to make me think about it twice. The story however did.

Randy T. on Jan 29, 2009


"The characters were gay, but its not a story of being gay!" You're kidding, right? The only reason the movie was made is because the key figure is gay.

Ken on Mar 17, 2009


This movie is not only about the gay movement but about the man that started the entire Revolution! And Sean Penn and James Franco are not just actors that "played" gay men, they embodied it. Sean was amazing as Harvey Milk and I thank him for reminding us all, what Harvey Milk fought for.

Mil on Mar 22, 2009


I just stumbled upon this site, trying to learn more about the movie MILK. I lived in the Castro for 20 years, am gay, and knew Harvey Milk. Yeah, I'm probably a lot older than the rest of you. I'm 56. I just wanted to share that when I saw the movie, Sean Penn BECAME Harvey Milk. Never once during the movie did I think "This is an actor pretending to be Harvey Milk". Instead, Sean was Harvey Milk. This is a tremendous talent to be able to turn yourself into another person, especially someone I knew personally, and be able to draw me totally into the role. The film has haunted me for days, because I lived through all this, the candle-lit march after his death, for example. James Franco is so intensely handsome that it would be no shock if he was gay. For some reason, nature seems to create a lot of really handsome guys who are gay. Not sure why, since that takes the "handsome" DNA out of the gene pool, so that eventually straight guys will be more and more ugly! Wierd!

Will on Mar 23, 2009

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