Breakthrough actor, 'Milk'

After showing his comic chops in “Pineapple Express,” James Franco extends his range in Gus Van Sant’s “Milk,” playing Scott Smith, Harvey Milk’s lover.

“I was not quite happy with some movies I’d been doing,” says the actor. “So I am at a point now where I know what it’s like to do a movie that’s a satisfying shooting process and you work with people I really love and respect — and I know what it’s like not to.

“And in no way am I talking about ‘Spider-Man,’ ” he adds. “I love Sam Raimi.”

Even though Franco has relocated to Manhattan to spend two (or maybe three) years on a master’s degree in writing and directing, he still plans to work. “I have long summer breaks and fairly long winter breaks. I’ll act in those periods,” he says. “Right now, I’m signed on for ‘Howl’ about Allen Ginsberg.”

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