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Joseph Gordon-Levitt vs. James Franco: A Smackdown

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Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 4:00 AM
click to enlarge James Franco and Joseph Gordon-Levitt: actors, directors, renaissance men - PHOTO OF JAMES FRANCO BY DAVID SHANKBONE, PHOTO OF JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT BY GRAMMARSHY/FLICKR, ADAPTED BY AMANDA LEWIS
  • Photo of James Franco by David Shankbone, photo of Joseph Gordon-Levitt by grammarshy/Flickr, adapted by Amanda Lewis
  • James Franco and Joseph Gordon-Levitt: actors, directors, renaissance men

Until two days ago, the James Franco-directed adaptation of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying was set to go head to head with the release of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon this weekend. Now, As I Lay Dying has been bumped, for a release date TBD. Is Hollywood trying to tell us it has found a newer, smarter, hipper Renaissance man for America to crush on -- and there's only room in town for one of them?

The more we thought about it, the more we realized James and Joe are kind of similar. Serious acting chops, writing and directing gigs, lots of side projects, literary ambitions, mysterious love lives...

But has JGL truly supplanted Franco as the superior jack of all trades?

Let's see how they stack up.

Age

Franco: 35

JGL: 32

Breakout role

Franco: Starred in a critically acclaimed TV show about a group of lovable outsiders attempting to survive in a hilarious yet hostile environment

JGL: Starred in a critically acclaimed TV show about a group of lovable outsiders attempting to survive in a hilarious yet hostile environment

First paid gig

Franco: Pizza Hut commercial

JGL: Sunny Jim peanut butter commercial

Festival where his new movie premiered

Franco: Cannes

JGL: Sundance

Notable early directorial effort

Franco: 2005's The Ape.

JGL: 2010's Morgan and Destiny's Eleventeenth Date: The Zeppelin Zoo, which involves mustaches, Channing Tatum and lots of sepia.

Latest directorial effort

Franco:

Franco's film, the Faulkner-adapted As I Lay Dying, costars that yokelly guy from O Brother Where Art Thou (#typecasting) and chronicles the death and burial of the Bundren family matriarch in rural Mississippi. How does Franco convey the distinct voices of the book's 15 different narrators? Apparently there are split screens. The film garnered fairly positive reviews from those who saw it at Cannes.

JGL:

JGL's film, the Jersey Shore-inspired Don Jon, costars ScarJo: He's addicted to porn, she's addicted to romantic comedies. Unrealistic models for relationships, yo!

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