James Franco is one of the most recognizable stars in movies today, but he remains one of the most polarizing as well. After getting his start in more commercial roles like Spiderman and a stunning performance in a James Dean biopic, Franco has returned to his stoner goofball roots and seems to be firmly planted there.
Franco splits his time between being an indie actor, starring in stoner comedies as well as teaching film courses as a professor at USC as well as NYU. He can also boast the fact that he’s a bankable movie star who has been nominated for an Oscar as well as being named the Sexiest Man Alive — so when it came time to roast Franco for Comedy Central, his buddies had plenty of material to chose from.
The special, which is the latest in Comedy Central’s long line of celebrity roasts, airs September 2 but was filmed Sunday night in Los Angeles. Franco was the star of the roast, but his long time buddies Seth Rogan, Aziz Ansari, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow and others were also subject to the relentless onslaught of insults and jokes directed their way. Here’s the best of what was said:
“James has acted alongside some amazing actors — Robert DeNiro, Tommy Lee Jones. He once played opposite an unruly chimp with giant teeth but it was worth it because Eat, Pray, Love turned out awesome.”
- Seth Rogen
“When Jonah’s agent told him that Quentin Tarantino wanted him to be in a spaghetti western, Jonah was like, ‘You had me at spaghetti!’”- Jeff Ross
“So many gay jokes tonight about Franco. Apparently if you’re clean, well dressed and mildly cultured, you’re super gay now. Is that why the rest of you guys are so aggressively fat and dirty?
- Aziz Ansari
“Look at me doing all the talking while you sit there doing nothing. I feel like I’m cohosting the Oscars with you.”- Seth Rogen
“James Franco is truly our generation’s James Dean. So handsome that you forget he’s only been in two good movies.
- Nick Kroll
“James Franco: acting, teaching, directing, writing, producing, photography, soundtracks, editing — is there anything you can do?”- Natasha Leggero
“Jonah almost couldn’t make it tonight because he had trouble finding a tuxedo that changes sizes every three hours.”- Jeff Ross
“I don’t think James is gay or straight. It’s just that he literally can’t open his eyes enough to see who he’s f–king.”
- Sarah Silverman
“The joke’s on all of you. This is not a roast. This is my greatest most elaborate art installation ever. I’m not the real guest of honor, these aren’t real comedians and we’re not even on a real network. What you’ve seen tonight was my brilliant opus to sequester an artistic visionary and subject him to the mindless incoherent trashings of talentless abnormalities. I call it Genius Unscathed and this is my masterpiece”
- James Franco
“He recently got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is incredible because now critics and homeless people can s–t on him all the time.”
- Jonah Hill
“If at any point James fully opens his eyes tonight, there will be six more weeks of summer.”- Nick Kroll
“Judd Apatow was going to direct this roast, but Comedy Central didn’t want it to be 40 minutes too long.”- Seth Rogen
“Jonah Hill was going to be in the last Transformers movie but they cut the role of the car that transformed into a giant a–hole after it was nominated for an Oscar.”- Jeff Ross
“Franco, you look like you’re asleep. Did you just read a James Franco book?”- Seth Rogen
On agreeing to be roasted: “I wanted to do something that has zero artistic value, something nobody will remember three months from now, something that’s offensive, homophobic and stars horrifically untalented people and something that’s only a big deal to a handful of teenage stoners on Twitter. You might say, ‘James, didn’t you just describe Your Highness? I wouldn’t know I didn’t see Your Highness.”
- James Franco