The former Spider-Man star has roles in Howl and the upcoming 127 Hours, is studying English and film studies at Yale—and his first book of stories, about disaffected California teens, is out this month. And guess what? It’s pretty good.
YOU GREW UP IN PALO ALTO. ARE THE STORIES AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL?
In a lot of ways, but the events aren’t always based on actual fact. Smoking Gun shouldn’t research the book and say, “James never went through this!”
THERE’S PLENTY OF SEX AND VIOLENCE—DID YOU EXPERIENCE THAT?
Yes and no. Maybe it’s excessive, but I hope it creates a tone. The stories are in some ways unrelenting because the teen years can feel unrelenting. I focused on that age because I thought it would provide a vehicle for heightened emotion.
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT REVIEWS?
The elephant in the room of your question is, because I’m an actor. But I treat writing seriously; I’ve gone to two MFA programs for fiction. Nobody can say I’m moonlighting.
YOU READ A LOT—DID YOU READ EAT PRAY LOVE BEFORE YOU DID THE MOVIE?
I was really busy at the time. I read the part I was in.
HAVE YOUR PARENTS READ YOUR BOOK?
Ha! No. I told my mother she was not allowed to, maybe because she was there when I was a teen…. She’s begged me to let her read it. I guess I’ll have to.