As an actor, James Franco has developed a reputation as someone who likes to mix things up: A feature film here, a soap opera there. And elsewhere, he has taught classes on filmmaking.
This Sunday, however, he will be the star of a 90-second Ford commercial set to air just before the start of game play in Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox. The ad will promote Ford Motor Co.’s Fusion Hybrid, and the actor will be joined by a tiger. Rob Riggle is also set to star in the spot.
Doing the ad marks a return of sorts for the actor, who said his first paying job came from a Pizza Hut spot that appeared around the Super Bowl many years ago. Ford “asked me and I was interested,” he recounted. “I know Super Bowl commercials are really big deals. Many are like mini-movies nowadays, with high production values and really good concepts. It sounded like it would be fun….It had comedy in it, so it felt like there was enough self-awareness built in.”
Whether or not the actor is actually taking part in a Super Bowl commercial may be up for debate. Because the spot is slated to air before the game takes place – after the coin toss but before the game’s kickoff, the ad is likely cost significantly less than the $4 million per 30-second spot Fox has been seeking from sponsors.
That said, Ford is still likely to catch the notice of millions of TV viewers and get an early chance to make an impression in a TV event loaded with ads from automotive sponsors. During the game, Chevrolet, Kia, Jaguar, Hyundai, Audi, Toyota and Volkswagen are among the advertisers set to appear.
“I’m glad they’re being shrewd,” said Franco when asked about Ford’s ad strategy.
The actor said he enjoyed working on a commercial set. “It’s actually kind of a fun and exciting place to work, because you get to do a lot of things that you can’t really do on a low-budget film and it’s not a huge time commitment.”
Franco said he has two projects in the works: “The Interview,” directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, in which he plays a talk-show host who scores an interview with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, and “Queen of the Desert,” directed by Werner Herzog and starring Nicole Kidman.