Published November 12, 2010
“Don’t get me wrong. British actors are wonderful, but different from Americans … I learned more about acting working with James Franco than with my countrymen,” declared "Slumdog Millionaire"'s Oscar-winning director-screenwriter Danny Boyle. He was saluting James’ bare-knuckle performance as canyoneer Aron Ralston in Danny’s "127 Hours," a testament to bravura filmmaking.
The opening weekend’s blockbuster tally included only four cities, Los Angeles among them. In December, it’ll go into wide release.
Why are American actors different, we asked Danny at Fox Searchlight’s "127 Hours" premiere, which received a standing ovation at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre. “Somehow, they’re more relaxed when filming, easier in a way … James taught me that.” He cited James as having that “naturalism brilliance of Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Inspired by the bestselling "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" memoir, the true and harrowing story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, the adaptation is a visceral reenactment. Hiking that April 2003 weekend in Utah’s beautiful Blue John Canyon, Aron slipped into a claustrophobic canyon slot. An immovable boulder collided on his right arm. Trapped to the elbow for five days, with minimal food and water (even drinking his urine), Aron’s unable to extricate himself. The boulder’s a brutal 800-pound villain, forcing Aron into that unthinkable realm of amputating his arm, which the book reveals took an hour (only minutes in the movie).
Aron exemplifies the endurance of the human spirit and the astonishing strength of the life force.
“I cry every time I see the film,” Aron told the premiere audience. He lives in Colorado with wife Jessica and newborn son Leo. In Boulder (!). Of all places.
Oscar talk floated throughout the Toronto International Film Festival in September for "127 Hours," which Danny filmed documentary style, for James’ tour de force portrayal, Danny’s direction, and the cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak.