James Franco: On the Road to Cormac McCarthy

James Franco © Getty
James Franco © Getty

James Franco’s lofty adaptation plans continue to grow. Franco, whose reputation as a modern-day renaissance man continues to swell, has seemingly shifted his attention from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian to an older novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author – Child of God. Though Franco stated that a test he shot for Meridian “went pretty well,” and in spite of claims that Scott Rudin loved the footage, it seems the project has been put on hold. Franco confirmed this fact earlier this month at the Toronto Film Festival when he asserted that he will, indeed, adapt Child of God for film.

A good move? Perhaps, as Blood Meridian has been called “unfilmable.” But let’s be honest here: McCarthy’s repertoire consistently works nearly as well on screen as it does on the page. The evidence: The Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men,” which followed psychopath Anton Chigurh’s (Javier Bardem) hunt for Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), blew audiences away, and took the 2008 Academy Award for Best Picture. The following year, “The Road” came to theaters. Though it didn’t fare well come award season, the story of a man and his son’s post-apocalyptic journey across a ravaged and bleak American landscape was dark and mesmerizing and provocative, all the things we love best about McCarthy’s work. And take a minute to look back to 2000’s “All the Pretty Horses,” brought to the silver screen by Billy Bob Thornton: another well-received tale of a man’s drama-soaked odyssey, which left audiences begging for more. And lest your short-term memory be less than keen, the small screen has also shown McCarthy some love: Tommy Lee Jones (who also had a key role in “No Country” as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell) brought the author’s The Sunset Limited to television in early 2011, directing the film while acting alongside Samuel L. Jackson.

Still, one might consider McCarthy’s prolificacy. He seems to consistently write a new novel every few years, but this doesn’t leave us with an infinite number of books for adaptation. McCarthy’s work is to be handled with care, as the bar has been raised quite high; one must shoot wisely when bestowed with the film rights to the his books. What are we saying, exactly? Hey Franco: Don’t mess this up.