And he had some storied company in the cult show's ensemble.
Just ask Hollywood comedy heavyweight Judd Apatow, who executive produced the "Freaks."
"With all of the people from 'Freaks and Geeks' I'm so happy with how well everybody's is doing," Apatow exclusively told Yahoo! Movies on Monday.
For a television show that was only on for a single season in 1999, it proved to be the testing ground for some of today's biggest stars – in front of and behind the camera. Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Apatow – who all continue to work together, perhaps most notably in "Knocked Up" – are usually the "Freaks" alums most frequently called out.
But there are others like Busy Philipps, who stars in "Cougar Town;" and the show's creator Paul Feig, who has gone on to direct a stable of hot TV shows ("The Office," "Mad Men," "Arrested Development") not to mention the hit comedy "Bridesmaids."
"I think back to when I met everybody at 'Freaks and Geeks' when they were basically kids," Apatow said, addling, "I'm the proud strange uncle to all of those boys and girls."
And, of course, there's Franco. "When I saw James getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame [last Thursday], I thought, 'Well that's the first star! That's exciting!'" Apatow said, indicating Franco is the first of the "Freaks" cast to achieve such recognition. "And James was really moved by that moment," the 45-year-old added.
Rogen, Franco and Apatow (left) on the set of 2008's 'Pineapple Express' (Photo: Dale Robinette/Columbia Pictures) …
And the filmmaker sees more collaboration with the Oscar-nominated star in his future. "I'd love to," Apatow says of a future team-up. "It couldn't happen soon enough for me."
Apatow also spoke to Yahoo! Movies at length about the upcoming March 22 Blu-ray release of "This is 40." Check back here next week for more from the interview.
Watch 'This is 40' Trailer:
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- Arts & Entertainment
- Judd Apatow
- James Franco
- Freaks and Geeks