Homefront allowed James Franco to go a little nuts as the villain, a meth lord who makes life hell for Jason Statham. As previewed in the Homefront trailer, Statham is a former DEA agent who moves to a small Southern town with his young daughter to pursue a quieter life. Little did he know that the community would be a hotbed for meth dealing, with Franco’s evil villain at the top of the food chain. Franco could have been one of those actors who does his own stunts, but given what a pro Statham is, Franco decided to leave it to the professionals.
"Jason does all of his own stunts. I don’t. My guy gets really beaten up,” Franco told Movie Fanatic. “There was a stunt guy that was just happy to do that. I’ve done a lot of movies with fight scenes, and you know when you’re working with somebody that’s good. Fight scenes are really more like dances than they are fights, because you’re depending on your partner to do the right move at the right time.”
Franco did do a few of his own fight scenes -- he’s just being modest! “A fight scene has a lot to do with the other person,” Franco admitted. “We had one fight scene in the movie. It was like, ‘Yeah. Okay. This is great. Actually I’m not scared here. I feel great here because Jason knows what he’s doing. I’m not going to get hurt.’ Whereas, somebody that hasn’t done a lot of fight scenes is not tough and will probably hit my hand with the sword or punch me in the face by accident.”
Franco also welcomed the chance to play a villain, but he insisted it be more than a one-dimensional character that so many villains can be. And it so is, as we report in our Homefront review.
“I think it helps serve the movie if he’s not just a bad guy that’s there as a device, that he is somebody that does bad things, and you don’t condone his actions, but you can understand why he’s doing it. What that meant to me was that maybe he shouldn’t do the meth, that this is a business. He sees it as a business,” Franco said.
“When he goes after Jason’s character, maybe he has a little fun with the torture of it, but it’s more that he sees this guy as just a key to helping his business, to helping him achieve his dream of getting out of this town and just making something of himself, which is something that we all do.”
The actor admitted that there is something in his portrayal of Gator in Homefront that is universal, whether we want to admit it or not. “Whatever our business is, we want to succeed. We want to achieve. And so, we can all understand that side of it where he crosses the line that hopefully none of us crosses. ‘Well, okay, I’ll hurt somebody else in order to achieve my dream.’ We don’t go with him there, but it’s like you can understand the human motivation behind what he’s doing,” Franco said.
“That’s why I thought the meth is just his way. It’s just what he found. It’s the way that he thinks he can get out of this wicked little town.”
When Franco got the script written by Sylvester Stallone, all the elements were there… but he wanted to tweak a little something. “I read it and I saw that it was a well-constructed movie and that there was a good villain that I could have a lot of fun with. I thought there were two key things to be brought out with Gator. In the original script I read, he did everything that was in the script, but he didn’t really care about his sister (played by Kate Bosworth),” Franco said.
“She was addicted to drugs and he would hold it over her head. So I went to the book. I looked at the book and realized that in fact there was a much more complex relationship to be had, that he actually loves his sister and cares about her and probably likes her more than she likes him.”
He also sought to improve what was on the page between Gator and the girlfriend character played by Winona Ryder. “Winona’s character, it was written like I was the boss of the relationship. I thought it would be more interesting if he was insecure about this relationship, and it turns out she was seeing one of the other gangsters before, and it upsets Gator,” Franco said.
“I thought it would make it a little bit more unusual that he could be insecure in this relationship rather than just, ‘I run this show,’ and that she’s the boss of the relationship until the end.”