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So, apparently playing offbeat artists is James Franco’s new thing? The teen heartthrob turned serious actor is currently promoting his recent film The Disaster Artist, in which he plays infamous writer/director/actor Tommy Wiseau. But working on The Disaster Artist has clearly given him biopic fever, as he’s reportedly set to direct and star in a film based on the life of deceased writer and cartoonist Shel Silverstein.
You probably recognize Silverstein’s name from the covers of such childhood classics as Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree.
Silverstein’s writing, while simple enough for children to understand, is surprisingly mature and philosophical—likely because he also worked as a screenwriter, a Grammy-winning songwriter and, at one point, a Playboy cartoonist. We were shocked about that one, too.
And his writing still holds up today—so much so that writer Lisa Rogak was inspired to write his biography, A Boy Named Shel, in 2009. The biography, on which the Franco biopic will be based, chronicles Silverstein’s hectic personal life as well as his professional life. We haven’t read it ourselves, but Rogak has also written biographies about Barack and Michelle Obama, so it’s probably top notch.
As we do when it comes to any James Franco project, we have many questions. Will Franco go full Shel and shave his head, or will he wear a bald cap? Will he grow his own beard? How faithful will he be to Silberstein’s distinctive Chicago rasp (based on his unwavering delivery of Wiseau’s geographically ambiguous accent in The Disaster Artist, we’re assuming very)?
We probably won’t get any answers until at least a couple of years from now—Franco is working on a ton of projects, including a sci-fi film called Future World, a romance called The Pretenders, and a much buzzed about X-Men film starring Franco as Multiple Man.
So until we get a trailer (or some behind-the-scenes photos of Franco with a beard), take this opportunity to revisit some of Silverstein’s lesser-known projects or check out the trailer for The Disaster Artist, which comes out this Friday.