“Take care of my heart, won’t you please? Take care of it because, it’s all that I have. And, if you let me, I’ll take care of your heart too.”—Anya Jenkins (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, episode 116 ‘Hells Bells’) (via awomanoragirl)
At age 28, ten years after dropping out, Franco decided to go back to college. He enrolled in a couple of UCLA extension courses (literature, creative writing) and found them so magically satisfying—so safe and pure compared with the world of acting—that he threw himself back into his education with crazy abandon. He persuaded his advisers to let him exceed the maximum course load, then proceeded to take 62 credits a quarter, roughly three times the normal limit. When he had to work—to fly to San Francisco, for instance, to film Milk—he’d ask classmates to record lectures for him, then listen to them at night in his trailer. He graduated in two years with a degree in English and a GPA over 3.5. He wrote a novel as his honors thesis.
It was interesting timing. As soon as Franco decided his Hollywood career wasn’t enough, his Hollywood career exploded—which meant that his intellectual pursuits got picked up on the radar of the A-list Hollywood publicity machine. Which was, of course, baffled by all of it. Plenty of actors dabble in side projects—rock bands, horse racing, college, veganism—but none of them, and maybe no one else in the history of anything, anywhere, seems to approach extracurricular activities with the ferocity of Franco.
Take, for instance, graduate school. As soon as Franco finished at UCLA, he moved to New York and enrolled in four of them: NYU for filmmaking, Columbia for fiction writing, Brooklyn College for fiction writing, and—just for good measure—a low-residency poetry program at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. This fall, at 32, before he’s even done with all of these, he’ll be starting at Yale, for a Ph.D. in English, and also at the Rhode Island School of Design. After which, obviously, he will become president of the United Nations, train a flock of African gray parrots to perform free colonoscopies in the developing world, and launch himself into space in order to explain the human heart to aliens living at the pulsing core of interstellar quasars.