Would you like a side of Franco with that?
Before he caught his big break with Freaks and Geeks, James Franco was manning the drive-thru window at a Los Angeles-area McDonalds — and he was selling more than just fries.
The Deuces star reminisced about his fast-food days in a recent interview with W Magazine, revealing not only that he used to work for the chain, but that he used the job to hone his acting skills by way of flirting.
“Oh, yeah. I got a couple dates from the drive-thru window,” Franco admitted with a laugh, explaining that he got the job before landing his first acting gig.
Unfortunately, the fast-food romances were short lived. “Well, they didn’t go so well,” he said of the dates. “I was in acting class, and I would practice different accents in the drive-thru, like really bad accents. But people believed me. So I’d be like [in terrible Italian-American accent] ‘Hey, welcome to McDonald’s. May I help you?’ You know, like, that bad.”
Franco started to realize women were hitting on him when they kept driving back around to order more food — and tried to score some language lessons. One lady, in particular, would “come back and she’d be like, ‘Well, I’m trying to learn Italian. Maybe you could give me some Italian lessons.’ I’d go [in accent], ‘Yeah, yeah, sure.’ ”
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Sticking with the accent was the tricky part. “We went to see Titanic, and I had to keep it up. You know, so like [in equally bad Brooklyn accent], ‘Whoa, Leonardo. Wow, he was amazing. Yo, oh.’ ”
But in a time before cell phones and caller ID, the ruse usually fell apart pretty quickly. “Then I always had to break it to ’em, ’cause they’d call me, and it was before cell phones. So I’d pick up the phone, I didn’t know who it was. And I’d be like [in regular voice], ‘Hello?’ ”
He added, “[Then] I had to come clean: ‘Hey, I’m not from Brooklyn. I’m from Palo Alto’ … And it usually ended right there.”
All the accent practice is paying off for the actor in his new HBO series The Deuce. Created by The Wire’s David Simon, Franco stars as twin brothers Frankie and Vinnie Martino, both players in the Times Square porn scene in ’70s New York.
“I play twins, they’re both from Brooklyn. So it turns out all that training at McDonald’s, this kid from Palo Alto pretending he’s from Brooklyn, it actually worked out,” he said with a laugh. “I probably wouldn’t be on The Deuce or I wouldn’t be as good on The Deuce had I not gone on all those dates as this guy from Brooklyn who works at McDonald’s.”