'Child of God' Premiere: James Franco, Scott Haze Talk Literary Structure, Self-Imposed Isolation

9:24 AM PST 07/31/2014 by Christy Smith-Sloman
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James Franco and Scott Haze

The actor wrote, directed and co-stars in the adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel, which premiered Wednesday night at NYC's Tribeca Grand Hotel.

James Franco has an eclectic mix of friends, and they turned up on Wednesday night at the New York City premiere of his passion project Child Of God, which he wrote, directed and co-stars in.

Film co-star Brian Lally, Lana Del Rey, Bernadette Peters, director Amy Heckerling, singer-songwriter Caitlin Moe and stylist Cleo Wade all stepped out to support Franco at the Tribeca Grand Hotel.

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Filmed in 2012 in West Virginia, Child of God is based on the 1973 novel by Cormac McCarthy about Appalachian man Lester Ballad (Scott Haze) living in isolation who spirals into crime and degradation.

"I've been a huge McCarthy fan for years, and this is a book that hasn't been adapted yet, and I felt was structurally perfect; it had a nice arc to it," Franco — dapperly dressed in a black checked suit, crisp white shirt and pale-blue tie, posing for photographers but abstaining from selfies — told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. "It's grim, but it's really about a man who wants love."

To prepare for the role of Lester Ballad, Haze spent over three months in self-imposed isolation in the mountains and caves of Tennessee, where he lost 45 pounds subsisting on apples and fish. "The first three or four days were hard, then I realized there was something nice about not having a cell phone," Haze said. "There was something pleasant about being in nature and being in the foothills of Tennessee. The movie is about murder and other things, but it's about being lonely and being shown love."

The desolate landscape was the ideal backdrop for the film's dark and grisly subject matter. "It was cold and wet, and we were in caves with a lot of bats," oft-collaborator and cinematographer Christina Voros said. "One of the things I like about working with James is that he takes you to these amazing places when you do projects with him. The location we were in lent itself tremendously to the film; it was a vast, bleak rugged landscape."

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Before the screening, guests mingled and sipped Child of God-inspired cocktails named "Velvet Monkey" (Black Velvet whisky with orange juice and lemon-lime soda) and "Salty Dog" (Svedka vodka and grapefruit juice in a salted rim glass).

Heckerling used the evening to take a break from working on the upcoming Broadway-bound Clueless musical to attend the premiere. "I'm in love with James Franco," Heckerling gushed. "He is the cutest and most talented and spirited person, and I love his work."

Child Of God hits theaters on Aug. 1.

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