The guest speaker sends his regrets – he's got a movie to do

By Howard Breuer
Updated June 05, 2009 06:15 AM
Michael Germana / SSI Photo /Landov

James Franco, who had no problem milking a fake cow at Harvard in February, has bowed out of delivering a commencement speech at his own alma mater in Southern California.

The Milk and Pineapple Express star tells UCLA he can’t speak as planned at the university’s College of Letters and Science commencement on June 12 because a screen role is calling, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“I deeply regret not being able to keep my commitment to giving the commencement speech at UCLA’s graduation this year,” says Franco, 31. “Unfortunately, the date conflicts with me needing to be on location to begin pre-production on my next film. I wish everyone in the 2009 class the best of luck in all of their future endeavors.”

UCLA officials are reaching out to alternate speakers, says the paper.

Although Franco did not mention the film that’s wooing him away, he is set to costar with Natalie Portman in Your Highness, now in pre-production and scheduled for 2011 release.

Franco, who also appeared as Harry Osborn in Spider-Man, attended UCLA as an English major for a year beginning in 1996 and left to pursue his acting career. He returned 10 years later to earn his bachelor’s degree in creative writing in 2008.

In February, as a tribute to his role as Harvey Milk’s lover in the biopic Milk and to the fact that he’s expressed regrets at never having been bar-mitzvahed, Franco milked a fake cow and had a mock bar mitzvah at Harvard – where he was named Hasty Pudding Man of the Year.