Why James Franco Said ‘I Wish I Was Gay’

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James Franco in Toronto (Getty Images)

Why is James Franco saying he wishes he were gay?

In a new interview with The Daily Beast from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where the multi-hyphenate actor/director/host/comedian/academic sat down to chat about "Child of God," his latest directorial project, Franco riffed upon why he wished his perceived sexual orientation, was in fact, a reality.

While speaking about his Comedy Central roast as well as his recent turn as a highly exaggerated version of himself in the summer blockbuster comedy "This Is the End," Franco, 35, explained his reaction to the prevalence of gay jokes directed towards him in both projects.

"There's two sides to what happened in the roast," he told The Daily Beast. "If that's what they were going to make fun of me for, I was like, 'Great! Bring on the gay jokes!' because these aren't insults at all. I don't even care if people think I'm gay, so it was like, 'Awesome!' I mean, I wish I was … I wish I was gay."

It's certainly a truly progressive response from an actor who is known for taking on complicated gay-themed ventures and roles.

When asked why he wishes he were gay, Franco replied, "I mean … we don't have to go into it. But as far as that larger phenomenon that you're talking about that happens to other actors, part of it is that movies are a place where people can project things and identify with characters, and it's the same thing with actors outside of their roles — and it's been that way since Hollywood was around. That's why there's a lot of conjecture. That's been one of my things, too. My relationship with my public image over the past four or five years has just become weirder and weirder, because I look at it and it's me, and it's not me, so if other people want to use that for their own purposes or needs, I'm fine with it."

[Related: James Franco Reflects on Roast: I Knew Oscar and Gay Jokes Were Coming]

Franco has become somewhat of a gay icon over the years due to the many gay roles he's taken on throughout his career, as well as the friendliness he's exhibited as an ally to the LGBT community.

Perhaps his most prominent role was that of Scott Smith, one of Harvey Milk's early loves in Gus Van Sant's 2008 film, "Milk." The film won an Academy Award for screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and an Independent Spirit Award for Franco as Best Actor.

But Smith hasn't been his only gay movie role. Franco played another real-life gay icon, beat generation poet Allen Ginsberg, in 2010's "Howl" (a role soon to be played by Daniel Radcliffe in this fall's "Kill Your Darlings").

Franco has also taken on several gay-themed projects beyond the characters he's portrayed on the big screen. Most recently, he co-directed, produced, and starred in "Interior. Leather Bar," a film which re-imagined 40 minutes cut from the 1980 William Friedkin iconic gay-themed film, "Cruising" (which starred Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, and Karen Allen). The film was skewered by critics at the Sundance Film Festival where it had its premiere earlier this year.

Oh, but that wasn't Franco's only sex-themed film at Sundance this year. He also produced "Kink", a documentary about kink.com, which is a leading BDSM porn producer. And he played Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in "Lovelace," which made its world debut at Sundance — the indie film had its wide release in theaters and on-demand just this August. While neither film was necessarily gay in nature, both explored taboo sex topics that had appeal to gay film enthusiasts.

Which all leads us back to the topic that led to The Daily Beast's new interview. Franco's latest film, "Child of God," focuses on a murderer who's drawn towards necrophilia. He says his desire to explore these topics and characters stems from his interest in peculiarities of the human condition.

"Big necrophilia fan?" The Daily Beast reporter asked him at TIFF.

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Franco covers 'Candy' in drag, 2010 (Candy)

"It's not that I, in my own life, find dead bodies particularly sexy or anything like that," Franco replied. "But in a film, it allows you, in a very extreme way, to deal with a character whose imagination has gone to a crazy place. It also deals with loneliness, uncontrollable compulsion, as well as the artistic impulse."

Franco has also frequently collaborated with gay performance artist and drag queen, Kalup Linzy. And he's posed in drag himself on the cover of Candy magazine.

Franco's many gay-themed projects and willingness to explore his sexuality in his art has certainly led many to speculate that it's just a matter of time before he comes out of the closet. "You know what, maybe I'm just gay," he said tongue-in-cheek to Entertainment Weekly in 2011.

It's pretty clear at this point however that James Franco is, in fact, not gay.

But as for why he wishes he were … well, if it was true, then maybe his friends and fans wouldn't constantly be joking about it.

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