James Franco © Getty Images
With his last directorial effort now in post-production (an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God), James Franco is moving on to the work of another literary giant: William Faulkner. Franco is set to direct Faulkner’s 1930s classic, As I Lay Dying. Showbiz 411 reports that the October shoot will be located in Mississippi and Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films (“The Expendables 2,” “The Paperboy“) will back the project. As of now, the cast includes, Danny McBride — the two starred together in the 2011 comedy “Your Highness” — Tim Blake Nelson, Logan Marshall Green, Ahna O’Reilly, Jim Parrack, and Franco.
As I Lay Dying is an account of a family’s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to the fictionalized Yoknapatawpha County. The novel’s namesake references Homer’s The Odyssey, the exact line from which is Agamemnon’s: “As I lay dying, the woman with the dog’s eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades.” Characteristically, the piece is narrated in turn by each member of the Bundren family. Of his novel, Faulkner noted, “I set out deliberately to write a tour de force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall.”
Faulkner’s novel is one among many literary works upon which Franco has set his sights in the last year or so. Franco has plans to bring collections of poems by C. K. Williams and Stephen Dobyns, Steve Erickson’s Zeroville, and, eventually, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian to the big screen. With more than a dozen voices narrating the story, As I Lay Dying certainly isn’t the easiest place to start. But no one here ever suspected Franco of being an underachiever.