James Franco Used to Shoplift Cologne and Sell It as a Teen - Now He's the Face of the New Coach Fragrance
James Franco is always expanding his body of work. Whether it be earning an Oscar nomination, starring in hit Hollywood comedies, adapting and directing films, writing poems, studying at prestigious universities, or teaching film classes, it seems like there is nothing Franco cannot do. To prove just that, he partnered with loved fashion brand, Coach, as the face its new Cologne for Men.
The actor, 39, was first exposed to cologne as a young teenager but, oddly enough, not with the goal of combating prepubescent body odor.
“I stole and sold cologne. I was caught for it. We had our cologne-stealing gang,” Franco told The Cut in a recent interview promoting the new fragrance.
The actor and his friends shoplifted a wide range of popular fragrances, including the iconic men’s cologne Drakkar Noir.
“There was a great mall called the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. We were about 12 or 15 or so. We had our Drakkar Noir, Eternity, Obsession, and our Davidoff Cool Water. We collected them in our lockers in junior high and used to sell them at dances,” he shared. “There was a great need for them there. Then somebody told on us.”
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Luckily, Franco was never caught.
“I wasn’t actually there when the principal came out and busted open the locker, which was stuffed full of cologne, with a crowbar. I had actually left early that week to go on vacation with my family to Hawaii,” he explained to The Cut. “But my friends ended up protecting me. There was more cologne in my house. They cleared it all in case the cops came. We ended up having to do community service. But maybe some kids will be stealing this cologne.”
Despite his past experience with cologne, Franco admits that he doesn’t have any distinguishable scent memories from his childhood. “I came from Meisner, so I’m not too in depth at remembering all my smells from childhood. I guess I remember all the holidays. I remember Halloween time, going to pumpkin patches and carving those. Fireworks for Fourth of July, that gunpowder kind of smell,” he said.
Franco added, “The thing about cologne is that it’s hard for me to talk about. Scent is really ethereal. I’m not going to do a good job describing scent. I don’t know if I have the words for it.”
But if the actor could pin-point what he likes most in a cologne it would be a subtle aroma. “I like the idea of a scent that isn’t too aggressive. You want something that another person can feel comfortable feeling close to,” he said.
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Franco is now bringing all of his rugged bad boy vibes to Coach as he stars in the James Dean by Steven Meisel inspired campaign for the brand’s latest cologne, which is made up of fresh notes of green nashi and kumquat, heart notes of spicy cardamom and coriander, and earthy notes of vetiver. Coach’s creative director, Stuart Vevers, looked to the retro culture of the 1960s to establish the tone for the campaign, drawing inspiration from beatniks, Midwest road trips, and Bruce Springsteen’s silhouettes.
“I think what excited me most about Coach was that it’s American, and Stuart really celebrates that,” Franco told The Telegraph. “He looks at eras in American history that coincidentally are also what I look to in my personal style, that sensibility of the 1950s.”
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