Amanda Seyfried and James Franco in 'Loveless,' and the real Hugh Hefner in 1973 (Photo: Radius/TWC, Everett C …
The host with the most sleaze, that is. And, as it's James Franco, how can you resist?
The chameleon-like Franco has transformed himself into yet another extremely distinctive character, and this time one with some considerable historical significance (at least in certain circles): Hugh Hefner, the man known for unleashing Playboy magazine unto the world and one of the all-time great heroes of high school boys 'round the world.
Franco plays the magazine publisher and notorious ladies man in "Lovelace," the upcoming biography film about Linda Lovelace, star of the porn industry-changing "Deep Throat" and Hollywood tragic figure. And, as you might expect, Franco plays the Playboy Enterprises guru with ever-smirking, hand-kissing, ultra-icky charm.
Watch James Franco and Amanda Seyfried in an exclusive clip from 'Lovelace':
The scene takes place at the 1972 world premiere of "Deep Throat," which is, not surprisingly, hosted by Hefner (or "Hef," as he corrects Amanda Seyfried's Lovelace). Upon trading two blondes for a brunette with Linda's beau Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), Hef takes the guest of honor on a tour through the party, where the naive young starlet meets the likes of porn star Harry Reems (Adam Brody), the movies financier Anthony Romano (Chris Noth) and even Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. (Ron Pritchard). It's sort of a double-meta (or something) variation on Franco being the host at another all-star party earlier this summer in "This Is the End."
Franco nails Hefner's air of vague condescension and sly drawl — though, at age 35 the actor is a full decade younger than Hef was at the time — in a scene that's most remarkable for showing us how big of a deal "Deep Throat" actually was. Really, this is a film premiere with A-list celebs on the guest list ... and it's for a porn movie. And Linda Lovelace was arguably the only porn star to receive the kind of celeb status that could rival that of Angelina Jolie or Julia Roberts. "Deep Throat" was a pop culture phenomenon, a product of a much different (and way long-gone) time.
Meanwhile, Franco's Hefner channels his "Spring Breakers" character Alien as he leads an innocent (-ish) young girl down the rabbit hold of decadence and lost innocence. In real life, Hefner allegedly contributed to further corrupting Lovelace: Chuck Traynor very much wanted to partner with Hefner and as an incentive reportedly encouraged Linda to indulge the mogul's apparent passion for bestiality films.
It's been fun to watch James Franco try on many different suits over the past few years, from his Oscar-nominated role as Aron Ralston in "127 Hours" to Alien in "Spring Breakers" to the title role in "Oz the Great and Powerful" to, uh, James Franco in "This Is the End." It looks like his turn as Hugh Hefner in "Lovelace" will be a worthy addition to the line-up, even if it's only a cameo.
"Lovelace" hits theaters and on demand on August 9.
See photos from Tuesday night's "Lovelace" New York red carpet premiere:
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