James Dean (2001)
James Franco ,
Michael Moriarty ,
James Franco (Freaks and Geeks, Spider-Man) stars as legendary film actor James Dean in the Turner Network Television (TNT) Original film JAMES DEAN, directed by Academy Award®-nominated director Mark Rydell (On Golden Pond, The Rose). JAMES DEAN, a stirring drama that tells the tragic story of the brooding rebel who remains a legend 45 years after his death.
Rydell and Bill Gerber executive-produce the two-hour film, from a script by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Israel Horovitz (Sunshine). George W. Perkins is the producer. Michael Moriarty, Valentina Cervi, Enrico Colantoni and Edward Herrmann also star in the film, along with Rydell, who plays studio boss Jack Warner. JAMES DEAN is a Gerber Pictures/Marvin Worth Production in association with Five Mile River Films and Splendid Television.
Although he starred in just three films - Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden and Giant - James Dean's performances and, more important, his persona transcended the screen and became the heartbeat of a generation. And the heartbeat goes on.
The TNT Original film chronicles the meteoric rise to fame and icon status that is Dean's legacy. From his early days as a starving actor in New York, to his acceptance into the prestigious Actors Studio, to his critically praised Broadway debut and finally his brilliant but brief film career during Hollywood's golden age, JAMES DEAN tells the story behind the legend.
The film also delves into the early tragedies and insecurities that fueled Dean's burning desire to succeed as an actor, including the death of his mother when he was nine and his fractured relationship with his father, from whom he was constantly seeking approval.
In addition, the film highlights the incredible passion Dean had for acting, and how hard he worked to become successful. According to Franco, Dean's icon status sometimes overshadows his extreme dedication to his craft: "I tried to show how personal James Dean made each of his roles and how the roles so strangely paralleled his real life," said Franco. "He was a very dedicated artist who would sacrifice anything for his work. His emotional life and turmoil drove this tortured man to become something great, and it has been a dream come true to play him."
Franco was cast in the title role after an exhaustive casting search that spanned New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and many other cities. Said Rydell (who knew Dean), "I didn't want to do this movie unless I could find the right actor -- no compromises. That problem was solved the minute I met James. His commitment and dedication were so startling, I consider my discovery of James Franco as James Dean to be a miracle. His execution of the part still leaves me breathless. It's amazing how accurate his work is. He was able to find the essence of Jimmy without losing himself, which is quite remarkable. His performance is not an imitation of James Dean, but it is James Franco understanding this tortured boy that we are depicting in the film."
Bill Gerber brought the JAMES DEAN project to TNT after several years in development at Warner Bros. Studios. During this time, many young actors were attached to star in the feature film, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Stephen Dorff.