James Franco’s ‘As I Lay Dying’ Assembles Cast, Is Still a Crazy Idea

James Franco is talking this week about the casting of his upcoming adaptation of the William Faulkner novel As I Lay Dying. Paul Dano appears to be involved, and Franco mentions that he wants Michael Shannon, Joaquin Phoenix, and Richard Jenkins to sign on as well; but who is on officially and who isn’t doesn’t seem to be exactly clear. That would be a pretty solid cast if Franco gets his way, but would it be enough to get audiences to sit through Faulkner?

In a world where a Coen brothers-helmed remake of True Grit has now grossed well over $130m, it just may. For those unfamiliar with the novel, “As I Lay Dying” is a bleak, slow moving story about a poor family from Mississippi trying to move their mother’s corpse, by wagon, through rough terrain. It is told through the voices of 15 different narrators and if you asked me I would say that it is pretty unfilmable. If audiences who liked True Grit find this one because of it’s solid cast and colloquial Faulkner dialogue I would be very interested to see their reactions to it.  And I’ll be interested to see my own reaction to Franco’s treatment as well.

For fun, I’ve pulled the book off of my shelf and turned to a random page to show off the prose.  What I got was this passage from page 13, “’Eat,’ he says. ‘Get the goddamn stuff out of sight while you got a chance, you pussel-gutted bastard. You sweet son of a bitch.’” Totally random: scout’s honor. This will be a ride. [MTV News]

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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