After three years on the shelf, Miramax is finally releasing The Great Raid. It's the true story of an American soldiers who raided a Japanese camp to save captured American POW's during World War II. James Franco stars as the captain of the unit in charge of the insurgence.
We sat down with James to talk about the movie. He also gave us a little insight into the next Spiderman film.
Are you pleased that this film is finally coming out and are you disappointed it took so long for it to come out?
James Franco: Yeah, of course, I’m very proud it’s coming out. I guess it’s kind of the name of the game and I have no control over it. I guess I’d be more upset if I didn’t have anything between, but I’m glad it’s coming out and they’re behind it.
Is the guy (who he’s playing) still alive and was he alive during the shooting of this movie?
James Franco: Yes, he’s still alive. John Dahl (the director) got about six hours of video of Captain Prince and gave them to me before the film. And he was supposed to come to the premier of the film in DC, but he couldn’t make it so I’m going to go see him in a few weeks. Most of the information about him was in the book Ghost Soldiers and The Great Raid on Cabanatuan and so I had an idea on it. But what I find is there’s something so valuable to hear from people who were there rather than just reading it. When I played James Dean, there are a ton of biographies on James Dean and I read them all, but meeting his old friends and hearing the same stories, hearing it from their own mouths, something gives me a blessing. I saw him as a typical guy at that time, as a man who was asked to go over and fight a war and possibly sacrifice their lives willingly with courage.
How much prior knowledge did you have of this event?
James Franco: I didn’t know anything about this raid and most of the people I talked to didn’t know anything about it and when I think back to what I was taught in high school, most of it was taught about the Holocaust and the war at Iwojima.
Even though the tone of the film is serious, how did you guys lighten the mood?
James Franco: Yeah, everybody got along. We went to boot camp and we got to know everyone. And since most of the other soldiers were Australian, they played cricket. But the kind of thing I like to do on sets like this is bring my book cause there’s a lot of down time. We shot the raid, the actual raid shot took a month and a half so you can think of that.
How intense was the boot camp?
James Franco: The boot camp had a level of intensity; I’m sure it’s in no way the same as regular boot camp. It’s designed to give actors everything they need to know of how to be like soldiers, he does a lot of research, he’s a Vietnam vet, but he did a lot of research on the time and he’ll cater to the needs of the main actors. Like I’m playing the captain, so at boot camp, after a few days, he had me giving orders. After we practiced for a few days, he had me come up with plans that the military would execute. That’s the kind of preparation. I like to read, but to actually do it and pretend that you’re a soldier for two weeks, that’s the best preparation at the moment.
What are you working on at the moment?
James Franco: I just finished up a film in London called Fly Boys, World War I, about the country’s first fighter pilots.
And for Spider-Man 3, are you expecting a little Hob Goblin action?
James Franco: I obviously can’t talk about it, but it’s weird everyone asks about the Hob Goblin and Harry Osborn never became the Hob Goblin, he became the 2nd Green Goblin. But I think Marvel and Sam [Raimi] and everybody, they want it and they don’t want to be obvious.
Are you looking forward to the 3rd one?
James Franco: Yeah, they’re always great when you make a group of movies with the same people.
Is this your last?
James Franco: I don’t know, that’s what we signed the contracts for so I don’t know. Everyone signed a three picture contract at the beginning. I really don’t know what’s happening after that; I don’t know what Sam’s going to do.
The Great Raid also stars Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, and Connie Nielsen. It comes to theaters August 12th, it's rated 'R.'