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Why James Franco isn’t very happy with the New York Times after his Broadway debut

James Franco in a scene from Of Mice and Men in New York.


James Franco has not taken kindly to criticism of his Broadway debut.

Best known for far-ranging roles in films like 127 Hours and Oz the Great and Powerful, the 35-year-old actor struck back at the New York Times and its theatre critic Ben Brantley this week after the paper dared to run a less-than-flattering review of his performance in the revival of Of Mice and Men.

In the review published on April 16, Brantley referred to the opening-night production of the play based on John Steinbeck's 1937 novella as "respectful," but also "generally inert."

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The new stage version of the Depression-era story stars Franco as the central protagonist George Milton, an itinerant ranch labourer, with the Irish actor Chris O'Dowd cast as his slow-witted cousin and companion, Lennie.

In Brantley's critical view, the two male leads "wear their archetypes like armour." The critic also said "habitual theatregoers … shouldn't expect the kind of revivifying interpretation that makes revisiting a classic feel essential."

Brantley also says Franco employed a "Yosemite Sam" accent to play his character, and accused him of being "understated to the point of near invisibility."

Brantley did, however, issue some faint praise by suggesting the new production would make "an excellent audiovisual aid for middle-school instructors who are teaching Steinbeck's novella."

None of which sat well with James Franco.

On Thursday, the actor went on Instagram to post a link to Variety's far more favourable review, which praised the acting in the production as "flawless."

But Franco was obviously still steamed by the withering review from the Times.

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Franco's Instagram post came with the comment: "Sadly Ben Brantley and the NYT have embarrassed themselves. Brantley is such a little bitch he should be working for instead of the paper of record. The theatre community hates him and for good reason, he's an idiot."

Within hours, the angry remarks were removed from Franco's Instagram account, but not before Vanity Fair columnist Richard Lawson screen-captured the page and posted it on Twitter, along with the comment, "Ohh brother."

And since the New York Times is entirely unlikely to retract or reconsider its review, we say, rage on, James Franco. At least it'll keep him from using social media to hit on underage women.

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