(Lenny Gilmore / RedEye )
Dave Franco’s a good sport about it, but really, we can all stop asking the actor about his big brother James. He’s had enough.
“I mean, that happened three years ago,” says the younger Franco, whose new movie “Now You See Me” opened Friday, with a laugh. “More than that. Ten years ago. I love and respect him so much, and when I was first starting out, it would be weird if people weren’t drawing the comparisons and mentioning his name every time they brought me up … Maybe two or three years ago, I made a conscious decision to distance myself from him work-wise just because I want to pave my own path and I don’t want to be referred to as James Franco’s little brother for the rest of my life.
“We are very, very different. He can take on roles that I could never touch, and vice-versa.”
With recent supporting turns in “21 Jump Street” and “Warm Bodies,” and starring with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Isla Fisher as a quartet of magicians/possible bank robbers in “Now You See Me,” Franco is proving he can stand on his own. He’ll also be seen next year alongside Seth Rogen and Zac Efron in “Townies.”
To play “NYSM” magician Jack Wilder, Franco—who says he’s not on Twitter because it makes him anxious, just as AIM did at first—worked with a magic consultant on set and practiced every night after shooting. “I would come back to my apartment and I would either sit in front of the TV and just practice my little sleight of hand moves,” he says, “Or I would just be throwing cards against the wall for hours on end.”
After having soup for lunch at “X-O-C-O or something,” the 27-year-old actor settled in at the Peninsula Hotel to talk about his non-thieving past, the potential of a magician-related reality show and an audition that keeps coming back to haunt him.
Click here for our music discussion with Franco
Have you ever fantasized about robbing a bank, and what’s the worst thing you’ve ever stolen?
I want to give you a fun answer for the bank, but I’m going to go with no on that. The worst thing I’ve ever [stolen]--I wasn’t a horrible kid in terms of that kind of stuff. I think I’m going to go with a Milky Way from 7-11. Which in hindsight, it’s like 50 cents. What the hell was I doing? I can literally probably find 50 cents on the ground outside of 7-11.
Did you get caught?
I did not.
Did you feel guilty while you ate it?
I think so! I was about to say, I think I felt horrible about it. I probably didn’t even finish it.
Why do you think magic has a nerdy stigma to it?
I saw this documentary about magic—I forget what it’s called now. It was about all these young magicians pretty much discovering magic and how it plays out in their life. A lot of them, the common thread was that they were kind of antisocial and they didn’t have a lot of friends and it was a way to make people appreciate them and be in awe of them. That makes sense.
When Jack comes on screen in the film he says, “I am the next great magician.” How do you think a reality show called “The Next Great Magician” would do?
I think that’s a good idea!
[Laughs.] You’re shocked! I think it’s a pretty good idea. Everyone loves magic, right? I would assume on a show like that you would get a lot of these young magicians who are trying to bring something fresh to the game. I’m all about it. You could have people from all different fields of magic. Just like the characters in this movie: You have an escape artist, mentalist … I don’t know how you would judge them against each other though, the people in the different fields, but I like the idea. I think you’re onto something, man. You almost said it as a joke, but I’m in. [Laughs.]
People are comparing this movie to “Ocean’s Eleven.” Who do you match up with in that movie?
I think it’s the Matt Damon character. If I remember correctly, he’s like somewhat of the newcomer and he has to prove himself and find his place in the group, and that seems right in line with my character in the movie.
How do you compare to Matt Damon?
Not well. Actually, he’s one of these guys who I actually really do look up to in the sense that he can go from doing a big comedy to an independent comedy to this action franchise [and] serious dramas. He kind of does it all and you really believe him … I’m not the audience for this movie, but in “We Bought a Zoo,” you even watch him in that and he’s so grounded. It’s like he can do no wrong in my book.