CINEMA: James Franco’s La Passione

VICE: A decadent and beautifully shot trip that riffs on Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, if it were shot on acid and starred the ATL Twins as demons. MORE

PHAWKER: The greatest Calvin Klein’s Obsession ad never made. That is high praise around our house.

JAMES FRANCO: I have been working on some projects with Agyness Deyn for a while. We had previously collaborated on a shoot for Elle where she and Natalia Bonifacci had dressed up like James Dean and Sal Mineo and we shot them around the pool at the Chateau Marmont. Another time I went with Agyness and a group of friends to Magic Mountain. We pulled numbers out of a hat before every ride to pair up. The idea was to make out with our partners and film it. Shortly after that trip, Aggy told me she wanted to do something with me based on Theodor Dreyer’s Joan of Arc.

At the time I was shooting Oz in Detroit, where I would be for the next six months. While I was there, Aggy and I developed the Joan of Arc idea and settled on a modern-day mash-up, Dreyer-style (silent, tons of close-ups, etc.). We decided that the majestic and widely photographed turn-of-the century Michigan Central Station—now abandoned and covered in graffiti—would be the perfect setting. But we couldn’t make the dates work for Aggy. Instead we ended up shooting a crazy version of Othello in the train station. In our version it is Emilia who is the mastermind behind Othello’s—and Iago’s and Desdemona’s— downfall; she is Othello’s lover and uses her husband’s jealousy to take down the Moor et al.

Then Aggy got married (much love to her and her husband) and became too busy to do Joan of Arc. Natalia Bonifacci became our Joan. Gucci was opening a new store in São Paolo, Brazil, and we thought a video would be the perfect way to help inaugurate it. Joan of Arc would be perfect. But now we had two new elements involved: Gucci and South America. MORE