James Franco hints at ‘Of Mice and Men’ revival on Broadway

A still from the 1992 film

A still from the 1992 film

James Franco teasingly announced on the Colbert Report that he will be playing George Milton in an upcoming Broadway revival of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. The show was last revived in 1974 and is long overdue for a new production. When it debuted in 1937 it beat out Wilder’s Our Town for Best Play at the New York Drama Critics’ Circle awards. Combine the critical acclaim with Franco’s dashing good looks and all the Steinbeck fans out there (he wrote Grapes of Wrath, remember?) and you have a smashing good show. Here’s why I am excited:

The Story

The story is classic Steinbeck. Two down and out laborers searching for work are drifting across the fields of Depression-era California. One is George, a struggling ranch-hand and the other is Lennie, his dim-witted and terrifyingly strong friend. As Lennie’s mistakes manage to ruin each job the pair receives they are forced to hide out and move on. When they settle into what becomes the final job they meet Slim, a respected ranch hand at what seems the perfect ranch. George and Lennie dream of the farm they plan to own until Curley, the mean son of the ranch owner, provokes Lennie to a terrible act of violence. The fallout is tragic and the ending is brutal but human and deeply moving. The book has been banned in various schools for its controversial portrayal of racism, violence and profanity but is generally considered one of Steinbeck’s and America’s best works.

The Play

The initial success of the novel led to a stage adaptation in the same year written by Steinbeck and directed by then-heavyweight Broadway mover and shaker George S. Kaufman. It starred Wallace Ford as George and Broderick Crawford as Lennie. It won the 1938 Drama Critics’ Circle Award and has since inspired several famous productions and movies. Everyone from James Earl Jones to John Malkovich has played the famous roles and it is no surprise that Franco wants to add his name to that list.

James Franco

James Franco

James Franco

Let’s be real, this is the reason most people will see the show. Franco is a hard-working and heavy-hitting Hollywood star who has starred in a string of great roles, from fan-favorite Freaks and Geeks television series to the Spiderman franchise, Pineapple Express, 127 Hours and the upcoming Oz: the Great and Powerful. That Franco is probably doing a favor to Steinbeck’s reputation rather than the other way around is just a fact of the Broadway business today. What is great is that Franco is a multi-talented actor and performer with a good taste in plays. Of Mice and Men is powerful, moving and a great story, the sort of play that is not exactly overpopulating Broadway right now. It will be a breath of fresh air and a welcome revival long overdue.

Are you excited to see James Franco on Broadway? Let us know in comments!

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2 Responses

  1. This would be cool, right? I am a huge Steinbeck fan, and of course, a Francophile. I hope this happens.

  2. OH. MY. OZ. This would be SO epic! I would love to see Franco on stage. He is definitely one of the hardest working actors out there. How he finds time to host the Oscars, star in films, and complete multiple degrees at the same time is beyond me. Can’t wait!