You may have heard that in 127 Hours, opening today, James Franco performs an act of self-mutilation so grisly and intense that people have been passing out, vomiting, and having seizures in theaters. We saw the scene (behind partially covered eyes) in which Franco, as real-life outdoorsman Aron Ralston, breaks and then cuts his own arm off with a dull blade–and it’s the most graphic thing you’re likely to see in a non-horror movie. But what’s it like when it’s your older brother up on that screen, pretending to sever his limb? We spoke to James’ younger brother Dave to find out.
The younger Franco, who you may recall from these Funny or Die videos or the last season of Scrubs, knows a thing or two about gore: He’s got a role in next year’s remake of Fright Night, which he told us is a hard R. “I’m not trying to be a badass, but in general I can take lot of gore and I can watch pretty gruesome things without being affected too much,” he said.
But 127 Hours is not gratuitous blood and guts. By the time Franco’s character commits the act, the audience is heavily invested in his fate, even though they already know it. Dave Franco, for one, was affected. “For some reason in this movie, you go through this whole journey with this one guy stuck in this hole, and by the time he’s cutting his arm off, you feel like you’re cutting your own damn arm off. My whole body started to get hot, and you start losing your breath a little.” Even if the guy on the screen is the same guy who used to give you wedgies? “I think at this point, for the most part I can remove myself from it and watch it from an objective point of view. But there are times in every movie of his where I see a little bit of his true self come through, and I can just have a chuckle to myself.”