When no one else cared and he couldn’t find a job, acting aspirant James Franco turned to McDonald’s who welcomed him in.
Decades later, with the hamburger franchise under attack over everything from the low wages it pays in America to the dubious nutritional value of its products, the now-Hollywood star has written an essay defending the fast food chain.
Writing in The Washington Post, Franco reveals that after moving to Los Angeles as an 18-year-old, he was forced to find work when he dropped out of UCLA against his parents wishes and enrolled instead at a small “hole-in-the-wall acting school”.
Fired from his first two positions for reading on the job, he turned to McDonald’s.
“I was given the late shift drive-thru position,” Franco, star of last year’s controversial The Interview, writes. “I wore a purple visor and purple polo shirt and took orders over a headset. I refrained from reading on the job, but soon started putting on fake accents with the customers to practice for my scenes in acting class.”
The accents variously led to dates with customers, interest from casting directors, even offers of language teaching. “As bad as the accents were (Brooklynese, Italian, British, Irish, Russian, Southern), people actually found them persuasive,” he says.
Despite being vegetarian when he started at the burger chain, Franco was soon scoffing down the product.
“I started eating the cheeseburgers that were headed for the trash after being under the warming lamps from more than seven minutes,” he writes. “I would also sneak frozen apple bars and eat them in the freezer, still frozen — great with coffee.
“(And) I hate to whistleblow, but everyone ate straight from the fry hopper. You’d walk by and snag a fry and pop it in your mouth. So easy. I also put tons of salt on the fries because that’s how I like them. I don’t know if the customers ever complained.”
Ultimately he would spend three months with McDonald’s before a Super Bowl commercial for Pizza Hut opened acting doors and he could pay his bills.
The essay has prompted mixed reactions on US social media with some questioning Franco’s motivations, others mocking his defence of the chain and at least one agreeing that parents ordering for sports teams are “the devil incarnate”.
Ultimately, Franco says he was “treated fairly well at McDonald’s”.
“If anything, they cut me slack,” he writes. “And, just like their food, the job was more available there than anywhere else. When I was hungry for work, they fed the need.”
You can read the complete essay here.