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King Cobra, based on the true story of gay porn star Brent Corrigan and his ill-fated director’s death, finally got off the ground at the urging of James Franco.
The actor and producer was fascinated by the character based on Bryan Kocis, the Cobra Video owner who quietly directed and produced Corrigan’s videos in his home and trademarked Brent Corrigan’s name — a valuable asset for which he was killed in 2007 by a pair of rival producers.
“He was a guy with a fairly low-key life but had this interest in pornography, and I love a story about somebody that decides, ‘I’m gonna change my life and go for it in a big way,’ ” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s world premiere, as part of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. In contrast with his character, one of the competing producers who “somehow thinks he needs to bring others down in order to get up, the movie presents two sides of something that’s interesting to me: One person has a dream and makes a positive change in order to pursue it, while another has the same dream and takes desperate measures in order to achieve it.”
Franco — who produced the film with Jordan Yale Levine, Scott Levenson, Vince Jolivette, Iris Torres and Shaun Sanghani — pushed his I Am Michael writer-director Justin Kelly to make the movie quickly. He passed the script onto his Adderall Diaries co-star, Christian Slater.
“It was definitely an out-of-the-box character for me — there was certainly a time in my life when I would’ve said, ‘No way. I would never do this,’ but I just didn’t want to be there anymore. I wanted to feel the fear and do it anyway,” Slater explained of playing the slain producer. “It’s a cutthroat business, literally, but every business has that element. This competitiveness and greed is all motivated by money.”
With reenactments of Corrigan’s most famous videos (but no male genitalia shown onscreen), Garrett Clayton was admittedly nervous to play Corrigan, whose real name is Sean Paul Lockhart. “I know everyone was surprised when I accepted the role because of Disney, let’s be honest,” said the Teen Beach actor. “But there’s a great message of overcoming obstacles and taking charge of your own life. He is someone who was trying to make the best of a crazy situation. It’s a big self-discovery piece.”
While the male actors said they were altogether eased by Kelly’s even-handed approach to both sides of the story, the women joked they had different reasons for joining the project.
“I was just happy to be in a movie where all the guys had to take off their clothes,” Molly Ringwald joked to the audience after the screening. Alicia Silverstone added, “I love all of these actors – they’re all very sexy!”
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