First Look: James Franco Goes Christian in Gus Van Sant's 'Michael'

August 11, 2014
Source: James Franco

Gus Van Sant & James Franco

Following a first look at James Franco's forthcoming film The Sound and the Fury, a period drama that also stars Seth Rogen and Danny McBride and is premiering at the Venice Film Festival, we have a look at one of the actor's forthcoming starring roles currently in production. After going gay with a pivotal role in Milk previously, this time director Gus Van Sant is producing Michael, a drama which will see Franco playing Michael Glatze, a San Francisco gay activist who somehow evolved himself into an ex-gay Christian fundamentalist, as chronicled in the New York Times article "My Ex-Gay Friend" by Benoit Denizet-Lewis back in 2011. Now we have a first look photo from the set showing Franco at work, filming a scene. Look!

Here's James Franco in Justin Kelly's Michael from the actor's Instagram page:

Michael is directed by freshman filmmaker Justin Kelly who co-wrote the script with Stacey Miller (Sal). The film tells the true story of Michael Glatze (James Franco of Milk, Spider-Man and Pineapple Express), a San Francisco gay activist who founded Young Gay America (YGA) magazine and toured the country with a documentary about gay teens before he had a sudden, controversial change of heart, renounced his homosexuality and became a fundamentalist Christian. Emma Roberts and Zachary Quinto also star in the film which is currently in production and doesn't yet haven an official release date. Stay tuned for more.

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Even though Glatze identified himself as a "Christian", he was technically from The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), which is not a Christian religion. It will be interesting to see how Van Sant tells Glatze story. He is a master filmmaker.

Quanah on Aug 11, 2014


Actually, the church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mormons believe in and worship Christ. What other qualifications are there to call oneself a christian? I'm also not 100% sure "fundamentalist christian" (as it says in the article) is an accurate description of Mormons. I think the Mormons I know would object to that description.

Arik on Aug 11, 2014


Arik I could link you to hundreds of articles of scholarly works by professors in the field of Biblical theology that would all agree Mormonism is not a Christian religion (and I get you correcting me, I abbreviated my description of the "Latter Day Saint"). In order for a religious sect to be identified as Christian, minimally it must have as part of its doctrine the belief in the Holy Trinity (three in one, basically), which Mormons do not. The Mormons do not follow that theology. They believe in 3 separate beings. There are several other key differences between Mormonism and Christianity. Like, Mormons don't believe in original sin, humans can become godlike, and God Himself has a physical body. So, to be fair, I'm not making a new claim, just passing on what I've read in several scholarly articles as well as books that were written anywhere from 5 to 50 years ago (I have a passion for Biblical studies on a scholarly level). And you're right, the Mormons wouldn't call themselves fundamentalists since they don't derive their beliefs from a Protestant religious base. Again, to be fair, Ethan didn't call Glatze Mormon, I just identified him as one due to previous reading on Glatze himself. Mormonism is truly part of cultural modernism in that it's a new religion. Fundamentalism is a response to cultural modernism. So again, you're right. Mormons wouldn't identify themselves as fundamentalists. Lastly, my comment isn't a dig at Mormons, just a comment on what Glatze really is and isn't based on previous works published. All this can be referenced online Arik. I'm not saying anything new here and I'm not criticizing Ethan. Why would he know this information or even care? Looking forward to Van Sant's film.

Quanah on Aug 11, 2014


It would be pretty brave of them to actually portray this character as a decent person. I think it's more likely that they'll show him as tragically deluded and repressed. There have been quite a few excellently made films about the bravery of embracing homosexuality. Do these filmmakers have the guts to make one about the bravery of trying to change your sexuality for religious purposes? That would be daring film-making because I think it would be a lot more controversial than something like Milk or Brokeback Mountain--I think modern audiences would have an even harder time with this one.

Arik on Aug 11, 2014


Cool to see these two working together once again.

DAVIDPD on Aug 11, 2014

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