James Franco on the "Topical and Eternal" Plot of 'In Dubious Battle'

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James Franco

“This was one of [John Steinbeck's] books that had never been adapted — it was topical and eternal,” Franco told THR at the film's L.A. premiere.

With 37 credits for both features and shorts in the last 12 years, James Franco has quietly become one of the most prolific directors working in Hollywood. In Dubious Battle is his latest effort, and the film had its American premiere on Wednesday night at the ArcLight Hollywood.

One secret to his success may be the speed with which he puts his films together. While many films linger for years in development hell, it took Franco only a few hours to pull together the financing for his latest effort.

“As soon as we saw the second draft of the script, immediately, six hours later, we decided to greenlight the movie,” said Andrea Iervolino, who produced the film with his partner, Monika Bacardi. "We called, spoke and said, 'Come on. Let’s go.' Then, of course, we finished the casting, and in two months, we were on the set."

In Dubious Battle tells the story of a labor strike among California farmworkers in the 1930s and is based on the John Steinbeck book of the same name. This is the third movie that Franco has adapted from a classic American novel, following As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner and Child of God by Cormac McCarthy.

“I’ve loved John Steinbeck since I was a teenager,” Franco told THR at the premiere. “That’s how I came to it. This was one of his books that had never been adapted, and I read it, and I realized that it had such an amazing story. It was topical and eternal in its themes, and it's about a labor strike and the haves and the have-nots, and I thought it was an important story to tell.”

The film also features an all-star cast that includes Franco, Nat Wolff, Ashley Greene, Robert Duvall and Bryan Cranston. Greene spoke about Franco’s directing style and what made working with him so thrilling.

"It’s kind of madness, in a great way," she said. "He makes it very fun and exciting. It’s no secret that he is kind of wild and eccentric sometimes. I think that he is a man that knows no boundaries, and I think that’s a really exciting thing, and it's something that I aspire to be like one day, to kind of have no box that you’re in. So, you know, you get to experience a little bit of that when you’re with him, and you never know what he’s going to throw at you."

The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where Franco won the Mimmo Rotella Award, which is given to a filmmaker who has shown an exceptionally strong connection to the arts.

In Dubious Battle will be available in select theaters and on VOD this week.