Shooting Agyness Deyn As James Dean For "Elle" At Chateau Marmont: Another Day In The Life Of James Franco

by Alex Gilman · June 17, 2011

In college, I had a buddy with a healthy amount of discretionary funds to his name. This often led to hilarious misunderstandings when we would hang out as a group (after attending all my classes, of course, in case my mom is reading). "I'd like to try surfing," one of us would say jokingly, given that we went to college in Vermont, in -20° weather. The next day, our rich friend would show us the brand new surfboard, wetsuit and accessories that he had enthusiastically ordered online.

James Franco is that guy.

Only, his impulses are less towards expensive hobbies, and more towards pretentious ones: poetry, photography. He'll probably own a vineyard by the time he's 35. And what was he up to the other day? Oh nothing much, just trying his hand at photography with a gender-swapping James Dean-themed photoshoot with famous models for ELLE at the Chateau Marmont. You know...

In Chateau Dreams, the famously Dean-obsessed Franco cast model Agyness Deyn to play the Rebel Without A Cause, with supporting roles from models Natalia Bonafacci and Imogen Poots. And as you can see in the photos, which appear in the July issue of ELLE, he's got the James Dean iconography down pat. But, um, are they any good?

Well, according to three experts asked by StyleList to evaluate the work, it ain't bad. Though it "lacks originality," according to Stephen Frailey of the New York School of Visual Arts, they also show "energy and ambition." All three of the experts liked the gender-bending casting of Agyness Deyn, although two of them three disagreed over whether he worked better in color or black-and-white.

And then there's also the little matter of the fact that NONE OF THIS MATTERS WHATSOEVER, since he's James Franco and his pet projects will get exposure almost completely regardless of what they are. But we as Americans (or at least, we as snarky, celebrity-obsessed bloggers) need to make a judgment call: are we rooting for James Franco to succeed or fail? It seems to change almost by the day. He's writing a movie? Oh, that could be cool. He's hosting the Oscars? HE'S SO STONED HE SUCKS WHAT THE HELL.

So I think I'm making the call: we're rooting for James from now on. Yes, he's pretentious. Yes, he tried to show his humble beginnings by admitting that he worked at McDonald's for three months, and yes, he once threw our phone on the floor at a party. But at least he's not in a stupid band. Sure, there's this, but it's clearly a joke, which I'm cool with. In a world where Billy Bob Thornton angrily storms out of an interview because he's there to talk about his band and Gwyneth Paltrow is trying to use that beyond awful country music movie to start a beyond awful country music career, how bad can it be that James Franco is skipping around photographing plastic bags in the wind and writing his precious thoughts in a little moleskin notebook?

James, I got your back. Just don't ever try to play the bass.

[photos via ELLE]