TODAY   |  October 14, 2013

James Franco: The real reason I take selfies

Actor and author James Franco is out with a novel called “Actors Anonymous” that addresses some of the challenges of celebrity. Franco is active on social media, particularly Instagram, and tells TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie he takes selfies because they help promote his books and movies.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> oscar nominee james franco is a busy man. juggling an acting career, and writing. he is about to release his second book, actors anonymous. good morning to you.

>> yeah.

>> you're borrowing from alcoholics anonymous complete with the 12 step program .

>> that's the format. it's not as if i think acting is an addiction. it's more just a way in and to talk about performance in a different way.

>> that was going to be my first question because it would suggest that perform as good something to be overcome? acting is a condition.

>> i would say yes to the second. not that it's an addiction of something that needs to be fixed but it's using more of the examination of ourselves, how we interact with others, how we interact with life through performance and through the lenses of a book but it is a book of fiction. it's not a recovery book.

>> it's a book of fiction. it's a novel. however there's a character named james franco . is it the real james franco ?

>> no.

>> in air quotes ?

>> well, he's not a big character in there. he just pops up a little bit.

>> that was ironic because i read one of your favorite books is called "this is not a novel." so i thought maybe this is like that.

>> well, the structure. there are sections in this book that are just little statements and that was very influenced by david marks in "this is not a novel".

>> there's even a point and we all remember this 2009 photo of you appearing to sleep in class. and i don't know if it's score settling but you got to explain what that picture was all about.

>> oh, in the book.

>> in the book.

>> yeah, this is not a class. this is an optional lecture and it was 10:30 p.m . and i was tired.

>> you have 10 mfas don't you?

>> 5.

>> you're trying to get your ph.d. as well, aren't you?

>> i'm working on it.

>> you were roasted on comedy central awhile back. i always thought that seemed like an excruciating -- perhaps it's a compliment but isn't it painful to sit through that. it was pretty good.

>> no i don't mean you. i mean anybody to be roasted.

>> the way they pitched it to me is it wouldn't be like the other roast. they said you can bring your friends on and it will be more like the old fashioned dean martin kind of roast and i said why not? it was great. i got more compliments on that than a lot of things.

>> there were great lines. most of which we cannot repeat on morning television.

>> yeah, it's a different venue.

>> but your grandmother was there, i hear.

>> my grandmother was there. she did very well. she had a great time.

>> now i've been looking at you on social media . you're a big guy on instagram. a lot of selfies.

>> oh, i mean, i don't want to post those things. i just look at the number of likes and like if i put on a book or something that i like i get this number and if i just put a stupid selfie it's like up ten times. when i try and get attention for something else i'll put a selfie but in the thing i'll put go see this movie or something.

>> put a link to poetry people should read and just accompany a selfie.

>> so here's a little selfie, read this book, my new book and i have a movie out that i directed based on "as i lay dying." so you can go see that.

>> i was going to ask you. you wrote it.

>> it's a little selfie on tv.

>> a little selfie promotion. so you got this movie that you're working on. you acted in it, correct?

>> i acted in it and directed it. it's, you know, very difficult novel to adapt but i think we did well. it's got split screen -- i think in some ways it's pretty innovative.

>> whenever i read an article about you it says actor director writer, scholar, painter james franco . not that you don't have enough but are there any things you wish to add.

>> i'm doing a movie with seth rogan called the interview and i play one of you and i love it. i love interviewing people and i love asking the questions rather than having to answer the questions.

>> should we do an interview here?

>> yeah.

>> how did you get into this. i started a long time.

>> really.

>> as a young girl in local news.

>> is it hardwaring heels like that.

>> oh my gosh, my feet hurt so bad. i have been inside and out all day long.

>> how about guys, they don't have to wear heels.

>> and they don't have to do their hair and make up in the morning because they wake up naturally gorgeous.

>> for an hour? yeah.

>> you look great.

>> thank you.

>> you look great.

>> thank you for the interview.

>> what do you use?

>> so many different products.

>> you can't say them?

>> no, i can and then they'll send me free ones.

>> the other thing i'd like to say if we have a minute --

>> yes, we do.

>> i'll do more shameless self-promotion, my favorite movie i've done this year is spring breakers and you can't use certain language on here but there's a line from the movie, consider this --

>> i know what it is.

>> so i want to put that out there for the director.

>> you have a lot of great projects. congratulations on the book called actors anonymous. can we take a selfie after