Did James Franco really deserve that D he got in an NYU acting class—the one that may or may not have gotten his acting professor fired? R. John Williams doesn’t think so, and he should know: He’s Franco’s English adviser at Yale, and in a glowing Slate essay, he insists that Franco is actually a model student for whom “blowing off class” would be “highly uncharacteristic.” Franco kept all but one of his weekly “directed reading” meetings with Williams, and held them via video conference since he was filming a movie in Detroit at the same time.
Though Williams did reprimand Franco for the one meeting he missed, the professor admits that it was “interesting, even thrilling” to study film theory with an Oscar-nominated actor. For one weekly meeting, Williams flew out to Franco’s set, an experience he found “breathtaking.” And for all those who wonder how Franco manages to juggle acting and scholarly work, Williams reveals that actors actually have a lot of down time while filming movies, and says he is no longer surprised when Franco does extra work. “James Franco is becoming a scholar,” he concludes, “and I suggest we take him seriously." (Read more James Franco stories.)