Mom inspires James Franco's career

Actor James Franco talks about his Bay Area roots and who inspired him to explore a life in the arts.

July 21, 2010 7:19:14 PM PDT
It's not often that a movie star decides to take a role on a soap opera, but that's what James Franco is doing. He grew up in Palo Alto and is still close to his mom and that connection is why he's appearing on "General hospital."

Franco has been acclaimed for "Milk," as a stoner in "Pineapple Express," and this summer he stars with Julia Roberts in "Eat, Pray, Love."

But in "General Hospital" he has a unique co-star -- Betsy Franco, James' real life mom.

"We were saying things to each other that we would never say in real life," she said.

Betsy and her husband still live in the Palo Alto house where James and his brothers grew up.

She has written more than 80 children's books like "Mathematickles!"

"It is math problems with words instead of numbers," Betsy said.

She encourages young people to use their creativity. Betsy not only writes, she act improvisational acting classes and sketch comedy.

Two of her sons are actors and one is an artist.

"Tom my artist illustrated "Metamorphosis" and James and Dave read the audio book," she said.

Home has always been an artistic environment.

"We encouraged it. We always had materials around they could work with," Betsy said.

James was inspired by watching her write books.

"He could see a model of someone making a living being creative," Betsy said.

James is not just an actor. He is an artist with a one-man show and he is going for a Ph.D. at Yale.

"He's always been extremely curious, focused, interested in everything," Betsy said.

Betsy has always encouraged her kids to use their imaginations, but she says they inspired her to broaden her horizons.

"My sons are fearlessly creative and they made me see. What can you lose?" she said.

Her "General Hospital" role will finish, but Betsy isn't done yet for sure.