Right now, Dave Franco is known as two things: James Franco’s little brother and an on-screen asshole.
In “21 Jump Street,” he played an entitled high school drug dealer. In “Warm Bodies” he was the bitter boyfriend of a girl in love with a zombie. “I promise this is not a representation of me,” Franco says. “At first it was really fun and liberating playing something outside of myself, to be mean. But after a while, not only have I exhausted this kind of role, but people start thinking this is how I really I am. I promise I’m a nice guy.”
In the new “Now You See Me,” a big-budget caper about magicians, he gets to play a mostly nice guy, albeit a sleight-of-hand artist first seen stealing from a tourist. It’s a different size production than he’s used to. “Louis Leterrier is a very visual director, and a lot of the scenes have multiple cameras flying about, circling around you,” Franco says. “Most of the time you have no idea whether or not the camera is catching you.”
He also had to learn card tricks. “I can now cut a banana with a playing card,” he reveals. “I wanted it to look realistic.”
Franco was cast alongside several big names: Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, to name a few. “I’m not starstruck,” he says. But being the kid no one knows helped with his character — an up-and-comer that nobody knows. “I’m obviously not the equal of these people. But I wanted to show I can work,” he says. “Of course, they were all so nice.”
Then again, it’s hard to be starstruck when you’re brother is James Franco. He claims his brother didn’t get him into the business. “His manager is the one who dragged me into this whole mess,” he says. “My brother has been very supportive. But we don’t talk about acting all that much. That said, he did tell me to be patient, to wait for projects I’m genuinely passionate about.”
Though he looks like a kid, Franco is actually 27 years old. That’s why he often gets roles playing very young. “I don’t love it,” he says of this trend. “But it’s more about the role than the age. Everyone always says, especially in the business, it’s great to look a lot younger than you are, for longevity sake. But sometimes I just want to look my damn age and play a character my age. I don’t want to play high school again.”