James Franco was born and raised in Palo Alto, California.

Franco’s upbringing was largely non-religious. It has been described as “academic, liberal and largely secular.”1 But Judaism runs deep in Franco, though only on his mother’s side. His grandmother was, at one time, a member of the National Council of Jewish Women,2 an oft-described feminist organization dedicated to social justice for Jews and women.

However, Franco seems to regret his secular upbringing, saying:

I do feel like I missed out on the Jewish experience. My Jewish friends tell me not to worry… but I like the idea of religion as a source of community.3

Regarding his own spiritual views, Franco is vague and expresses a sort of agnosticism, but a light agnosticism, one that probably believes in God in some form or another. Really, he’s just unsure. He said when asked if he is a believer:

In God? I don’t know. Yes. To a certain extent. It’s a complicated question.4

Freaks and Geeks–sounds like politics

Franco has not explicitly made any political statements, endorsements, or taken any political positions that I can find. If you’ve got something, let me know in the comments.

But it seems reasonable to assume that Franco’s a liberal. First of all, his upbringing was “academic, liberal, and largely secular.” Second of all, he’s buddy-buddy enough with Obama to have taken career advice from him. Apparently, Franco asked the president how he dealt with criticism. Obama responded: “Humor, basically.”5 The advice inspired Franco to make this video, where he alludes to long-running jokes about him in the media.

Then, if you start analyzing the films Franco has done, it seems pretty far-left. He played a weed-crazy stoner in Pineapple Express and in three films, he’s played a gay man. When critics started asking if Franco was perhaps himself gay, he responded with this:

It’s funny because the way that kind of stuff is talked about on blogs is so black-and-white. It’s all cut-and-dry identity politics… Part of what I’m interested in is how these people who were living anti-normative lifestyles contended with opposition. Or, you know what, maybe I’m just gay.6

Either way, Franco seems to have no problems with gay people. So, I guess he’s a liberal?

  1. Amy Raphael interviews James Franco. The Guardian. []
  2. Biography for James Franco. Prabandhasree. []
  3. Amy Raphael interviews James Franco. The Guardian. []
  4. Amy Raphael interviews James Franco. The Guardian. []
  5. James Franco: Barack Obama gave me advice. Metro. []
  6. James Franco: “Maybe I’m Gay. The Frisky. []