exclusive interview

Exclusive Interview with James Frain:
“Franklin doesn’t know he’s psychotic”

By True Blood News on Sep 22 2010 | 34 Comments »

 james frain franklin mott true blood characters exclusive interviews

James at True Blood's Crew Appreciation Party

James Frain made a big impression as Franklin Mott on True Blood this season … a big impression full of crazy, psychopathic, lovesick lunacy. He was so intense and so brilliant that he’s become a fan favorite and many mourned Franklin’s true death. We had an opportunity recently to ask Frain a few questions about his role as Tara’s unwanted suitor and about his other roles, getting to know a little better the awesome British actor behind Franklin Mott.

TB-N: You landed your first role in Shadowlands (1993) directed by Richard Attenborough, who discovered you when you were in your third year at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. What was it like to begin your career with such an important film? Did that role change your life in any way?

JF: I think I was the only guy on that set who didn’t have a knighthood. Lucky break is too small a term. Shadowlands gave me my career.

TB-N: And what a great start! In that film, you worked with Anthony Hopkins, portraying a taciturn student of the British writer C.S Lewis. You also starred with him again in the film Titus (1999). What was it like working with the talented Sir Anthony Hopkins?

JF: Hopkins is one of the greats; watching the intensity of his concentration up close was inspiring. On set he’s relaxed and fun, and he’s a brilliant mimic. He’s of the work-hard-but-don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously school, and that had a big influence on me.

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James Frain in The Tudors

TB-N: You are a popular face on TV, having appeared in shows like “The Closer,” “24,” “Invasion,” “Californication” …  and especially “The Tudors.” What are your favorite TV shows? What’s the show you have enjoyed acting in the most?

JF: I enjoyed all of them in different ways, but ‘The Tudors’ stands out because it was my first experience of working on a character over several years. My all time favorite TV show? HBO’s ‘The Wire.’

TB-N: And it was in The Tudors where you portrayed for the first time a subject of a sanguinare King. You magnificently brought to life again to Sir Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII’s councilor.  Did you enjoy being under Cromwell’s skin?

JF: I imagined how Cromwell might have seen himself; as a good man doing God’s work, and I was fascinated by the contradictions in his personality. I enjoyed putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and I appreciated how generous writer Michael Hirst was with his process.

TB-N: It’s a busy year for you. You’ve been working recently  on the much anticipated sequel to “Tron,” “Tron Legacy,” with Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde (releasing in Dec.). Can you tell us a bit about your character, Jarvis?

JF: Jarvis is the Chief of Secret Police within ‘Tron’ World, but he’s completely inept. He spends most of his time trying not to get killed.

 james frain franklin mott true blood characters exclusive interviews

18th Annual BAFTA / Wireimage

TB-N: And you are also sharing the screen with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson in the upcoming film “Water for Elephants”, where you play an elephant caretaker…

JF: Rosie the elephant is a total pro and a major scene stealer. She’s going to be a big star.

TB-N: Seems you’ve jumped from one villain to another; you play an evil billionaire in the upcoming NBC superhero drama series “The Cape.”

Is the project confirmed after filming the pilot?

JF: Not all billionaires are the of the loving kind. Peter Flemming has complicated family issues which he resolves by adopting creepy disguises and doing terrible things. Only one man can stop him (although this may take a few seasons). The Cape starts airing in January 2011.

TB-N: We’ve read that you live in Los Angeles. Being born in Leeds and raised in Essex, do you miss living and working in the UK? What are you into when not acting?

JF: When I’m not acting I like hanging out with my kids, drawing, and cooking. I get to travel to Europe a lot for work so that helps keep me connected to the UK.

TB-N: You have been a regular on the stage in the UK, appearing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Court Theatre, and now you’re a vampire on True Blood. How did your stage training prepare you for playing a psychotic, love-sick vampire?

JF: Shakespeare wrote genre (although vampire wasn’t as hip then) and his villains are complex, funny, scary, and tragic. So I guess that’s a pretty good build up to Franklin.

TB-N: Had you ever watched True Blood before you auditioned for the role of Franklin Mott?

JF: I knew it was a phenomenon but I hadn’t caught up yet, but I found it useful going in without any preconceptions. I had a couple of scenes from the first few episodes to work with. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I read with Rutina to make sure we had chemistry. We started shooting about a week later.

TB-N: While True Blood is known for its intense characters and risqué plots, Franklin Mott entered the season with a whole new whirlwind of crazy. Although he’s a villain, fans really enjoyed the character … a lot. Did you expect such an overwhelming reaction to Franklin?

JF: I didn’t anticipate about how people might react, and I had no idea what was coming. I feel very grateful for how enthusiastic the response has been.

TB-N: And you got a chance to live for yourself the fan love at Comic-Con. Was this your first experience at such a crazed event?

JF: It was my first time and I had a blast. There’s a celebratory atmosphere – people get to feel a part of the shows they love. It was cool to see people dressed as zombies and superhero’s just hanging out in San Diego’s cafe’s and bars.

TB-N: What did you like best about playing the role of Franklin Mott? What has been the biggest challenge?

JF: I liked Franklin’s sense of humor, and how he didn’t have a clue how crazy he is. The challenge was keeping all the elements in play without losing the balance. I’m still holding out for a spin off-show – I’m thinking something along the lines of ‘Flavor of Love.’

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Behold my mad vamp texting skills!

TB-N: You seem to have a great sense of humor based on other interviews we’ve read. Were there any scenes when you struggled not to laugh on set?

JF: The texting scene cracked me up. The writers kept coming up with great ideas for Franklin but speed texting? That was comedy gold.

TB-N: Franklin is deliciously psychotic. Is there anything specific you do to prepare for that?

JF: Franklin doesn’t know he’s psychotic. I think he’d be upset if you told him that.

TB-N: Ok, we won’t tell him then. Let’s talk about love. You have filmed sex scenes before; how would you compare True Blood’s neck biting sex scenes to what you have done in the past?

JF: The teeth make you talk like Elmer Fudd. Not so sexy.

TB-N: Hah! We guess it takes some training to get used to it. Anyway, you didn’t look like Elmer Fudd to us. OK, we can’t resist. Those silk jammies were hot. Did you get to keep them?

JF: I’m wearing them right now.

TB-N: Sexy! Thank you James for being such a nice dude.

34 Responses to “Exclusive Interview with James Frain:
“Franklin doesn’t know he’s psychotic””

  1. Tincar says:

    A big thanks to James Frain for the interview and for giving us such a memorable character. I LOVED Franklin. He was crazy fun. We look forward to seeing Frain in upcoming projects. I have been a fan for awhile and loved his adorable, loving character in “Where the heart is.”

  2. TBObsessed says:

    Fun interview! Thanks to James Frain and TB-N! I was hoping he’d come back from that head smashing Tara gave him with a miraculously healed brain so that he would be a little less dangerously obsessive! Oh well, he went out with a bang! Literally.

  3. Acanthus says:

    What a treat and great fun. Thank you James Frain, and thank you, excellent Nest, for stitching the interview together.

    Glad he mentioned Cromwell. I thought I saw the icy gravitas of Sir Thomas peeking out beneath the vampire in those scenes with KRE. Tudor Councilor or Vamp Gumshoe, James Frain makes it all so impossibly believable . I love to watch this actor, I really do.

  4. patricia says:

    I think Franklin left really soon…. His story-line had a lot of good stuff to keep him going for longer

  5. GhostofAF says:

    What a wonderful interview, thanks James! I just love his answer to that last question. I wish Franklin had stuck around a bit longer though.

  6. konfettii says:

    Wonderful interview, I miss Franklin Mott soooo much!
    And when James Frain jumped through that window at the WalMart in Where the Heart is, my heart went pitter pat :) He’s amazing.

  7. Jody says:

    Loved this interview – Franklin was such an awesome character. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but James Frain really blew me away. I loved the way he says “Tara” when she flirted with him. He deserves an Emmy for his guest appearance for True Blood. He was bloody fantastic!

  8. Aemac says:

    I love James Frain.. He was one of the best additions to TB this year….I wish he could have hung around, maybe gone to a vampire psychologist. : )

  9. CushyB says:

    Thanks so much for this great interview with the ultra talented James Frain! He can do it all, and so very, very well. Plus, he’s such an appealing, funny, bright person and seems like a genuinely nice guy. Much good luck to him!

    Please join Facebook Fans of James Frain and show your support!
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=73421314640&ref=ts

  10. Emily says:

    OMG please bring James Frain back to True Blood, he was amazing. He was brilliant as Franklin Mott, can’t wait to see him in more projects… I just got The Front Line and he was amazing in it. God I miss Franklin.

  11. teri says:

    James is adorable. He always gives the best interviews. Thanks so much for posting this.

    If only there could be a spin-off series. I’m not too keen on a ‘Flavor of Love’ type show…but, ‘Mott: Vamp PI’ has a nice ring to it :)

    And, how adorable is the part about him hangin’ with his kiddies, drawing and cooking. *lesigh*

    My dream man.

  12. lizzie1701 says:

    Thank you for this article. I loved Jame’s role on TB as well, and will always remember Franklin Mott. Also agree how he said “Tara”.

  13. Acanthus says:

    Everyone, including JF obviously, loved the texting scene. Me, I think the absolute wordless comic coup of the entire series was Franklin’s stony-faced fang-off with Jessica. Minimum action, maximum wit.

    • teri says:

      The texting scene gets all the attention, but I agree…the fang off between he and Jess wins hands down. It was hilarious. His ‘yeah, well check these out’ little look was so cute and funny. And, Jessica’s expression was priceless. The whole interaction between them in that scene was some how weirdly endearing. LOL I wish they’d had a few more scenes together.

  14. gattopardo says:

    thank you James Frain and Nest ladies for this lovely interview. Loved the little tease at the end. LOL for a compete psycho nutter, Franklin did manage to get many ladies all hot and bothered didn’t he?

  15. Char says:

    I have to be in the minority and disagree that “OMG Franklin was so hot and awesome.”

    Watching his scenes with Tara made me very uncomfortable. This show has a lot of violence against women anyway, but glorifying his psychological, emotional and sexual abuse is really…gross, for lack of a better word. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show and most of the characters, and Franklin was important for Tara’s character development. James was a great fit for the role and played it magnificently. However, I am uneasy that so many ladies all over the Internet are talking about how “dreamy” Franklin was. He was an abusive rapist. Can we accept that and stop talking about how all boyfriends should be so attentive? (Not that I have seen people do that here, but I have seen it, and it disturbs me).

    /puts away soapbox

    • Sarah says:

      I can really relate to you!
      To me TB made a rather interesting point with this character. The dark and psychotic side of an “I-would-do-everything-for-you” lover is clearly shown on the show. It is not healthy to exist for only one person and a good relationship needs trust and consent.
      I can´t believe that I actually have to say this but there are a lot of people online who cannot see that FM is a psychotic rapist thus I guess there is still a long way to go!I understand that a lot of people dislike Tara but when I hear posters on HBO saying that “Tara can be lucky that at least one man wants her although she is always annoying” my inner feminist get really angry..
      I always thought that FM is a very dark mirror of Bill. He is the attractive stranger coming to Merlotts, wanting “some of the synthetic blood” before being involved in a beating with two hillbilies. He uses manipulation to make a Merlott waitress sleep with him and after a short time he wants to marry her (“be my vampire bride). Although claiming his eternal love he does not tell her the whole truth or let her her make her own decisions.

      • Acanthus says:

        Interesting , your Bill-shadow analysis, Sarah. Nice compare-and-consider. Thank you for the brain food.

        Overall, and this isn’t addressed to anyone in particular, I’d say that Franklin isn’t a serial psychotic rapist, but more of a psychotic narcissist.

        It’s all about him: he sees himself in Tara (nad women before her), – zot! MINE (in a psychotic possession frenzy); Talbot – not like me: PAH! open contempt and insult. KRE: a king, SIR! pride by association. Whatever – It’s just all about Franklin Mott.

        Or it was. Too bad Tara didn’t smash his frontal lobe just enough to make him the season’s quasi- amnesiac (about her). Then we could have kept him around. Then again, great death scene. And wasn’t that whole Jason take a shadow of the fang-off?

      • Char says:

        Completely agree with you on the Bill point!

        And yeah, I have seen the victim blaming going on online, and it’s gross. :|

        Thanks for not name-calling or guilt tripping me for my opinion, I appreciate it!

    • teri says:

      I understand your concerns…but, I’m a huge fan of JF. So, he could play the most evil character ever and I’d still love him. And, yeah he was HOT and AWESOME. He was also crazy, demented and a possible rapist. I say possile because we NEVER saw a rape. But, since Tara said it was so, it must have happened at some point.

      What bugs is that here we have this lovely…delightful interview with the gracious and witty James Frain, and yet, .we can’t enjoy it for the wonderful interview it is without dragging in the ‘Franklin was abusive’ stuff. It was a show. Franklin was awesome and horrid at the same time. I miss him.

      Anyway, I just wanted to concentrate on the actor and that fun interview. Is that so wrong :)

      • Char says:

        Nothing wrong with it at all of course. But it’s a two way street, and it would be nice if differing opinions were valued on this website, instead of being jumped on.

        People seem to think I am focusing on the actor here. I’m not. The character was deplorable. The fact that JF made it such a great performance is a testament to his talent.

  16. Sarah UK says:

    Great interview and i am definitely in the i loved Franklin Mott camp – JF made him really likeable despite him being a complete psycho !

    Thanks to James Frain for taking the time to do this interview too and i will get round to watching the Tudors one day .

  17. Natalie says:

    I LOVED jams in the Tudors and was sad at his demise, then i watched Leverage and whoops, there he was! Then i watched TB and who walked in…Franklin!

    I Absolueltely LOVED Franklin and hope the lil nutball isnt dead, they buried him so there is a way! I Would love to know more about him and how he came to be under an American “the King”. Being English he has the potential of being far older than an American, his scene with the texting had me in absolute stitches and i had to replay it several times, i need more Franklin whether its a prequel history or a ‘resurrection’, he is far too good in a “bad” way to waste in a hole behind Mellottes!

    • Acanthus says:

      Russell is an ancient Celt, as I recall from the background that Denis O’Hare worked up for the character – hence his germanic accent when stressed. There seem to have been a number of vampire ‘diasporas’, when Old World vampires came to the New World, much as their human counterparts did, to escape persecution, to find opportunity. America would have provided Russell with the opportunity to be royal, if you can call the King Of Mississippi royal. All those European thrones pretty much occupied ;-)

  18. Sthetrollslayer says:

    Nice article not too in depth but amusing and lighthearted.

    I would love to see him come back. Yes I know hes goo now but maybe as another character.TB is such an out there show anyway…

    Really I do not think AB was counting on how popular the character would become after just a few episodes.

    Teri and Natalie Yes I agree
    it is too bad we JF fans cannot enjoy an article with out someone bringing up the controversy on whether Tara was raped. I saw no such thing and it is just my personal opinion that it was thrown in at the last minute as a way of writing him out of the show.

    I am almost certain this is probably the same schmuck who keeps trolling a certain movie board trying to illicit a response from the Franklin /jf fans. You have issues. Work on them but take it somewhere else.
    Its just a tv show.

    • Char says:

      I am a “shmuck”? Really? And a troll because I have an opinion about a TV show? I didn’t realize that having an intelligent conversation about abuse was considered trolling. Please, enlighten me as to how my respectful critique of the character was in any way being a shit disturber?

      Perhaps *gasp* more than one person shares my opinon, and this is why you have seen this posted elsewhere. Maybe it’s just a TV show. But when people fail to reflect on what they have seen and what it says about society (which TB has in spades, good and bad), that’s when ignorance blooms. And unfortunately, the comment you made was very ignorant.

  19. Frain Fanger says:

    He’s got kids?!! Dang. Double Dang for missing out on a comic con with actor worth seeing. But here in oz we don’t have that so sucks to be me. The interview was a great read and hopefully on a Season 3 dvd they will definitely chuck him in the bonus section – Frain behind the scenes stuff.

    I lurve Franklin Mott as a Character because lets face it – he was entertainment!!! Even if he was wickedly possessive and ludacris that was how they have written him to be. Plus he had importance to building up what sookie is and her background. JF performed Franklin like Heath Ledger made the role of Joker legendary. And without the light-hearted, intellectual psycho’s in the picture main characters would become bland season after season after season. For me what made him attractive was the fact he was articulate, humerous, mysterious, and the fact he wanted to be – well wanted by someone. But it was the concept of the character that I loved…well and JF’s cute facials. I am all for feminism and standing up for woman’s equality and no violence against women, but we girls are no better and just as manipulative and psychotic too! Especially on our time of the month! What Franklin did a woman could do – eg. Lorena? Possibly better too heh. And some women out there like the challenge and rough (if innocent Sookie dont like it rough why is she stringing the supernatural ones). Anyway these are human fantasies and it is normal. I guess it depends if you take it to another level.

    Char your opinion is A okay. I don’t find offensive. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Sookie is annoying to me so ( not Anna Paq) the character. And for the record – Tara kicks ass. And her scenes with JF was best in the show.

  20. Tara says:

    Thank you ever so much for a fantastic interview James. I thought Franklin literally got the short end of the stick as they could have done soooo much more with that character and story line. It was really nice to see that AB and his writers with such a fantastic sense of humor throughout that whole Franklin/Tara Story line this past season. Thanks again TB-N for that fantastic interview :)

  21. Valda says:

    I agree with Tara as far as the short end of the stick and doing more with that character and story line! Well, anyway I so miss you! Hey, teach me how to text like you! *laughing*

  22. Amber says:

    I hope that they would bring Franklin back, he is their best character ever! That would be hilarious if they showed Franklin in a dating series ala “Flavor of love” as James stated. Before Franklin’s true death, and before Tara, he went on this show and taped a lot of episodes. It could just happen to come on the TV at Merlott’s and scare the crap out of Tara–she would drop the pitcher of beer and piss her pants just from hearing Franklin’s voice, lol.

    I just don’t buy her whoa is me routine. Even though she was victimized for a spell, she had been dishing it out to others, and she did get her revenge on Franklin: which is more than other victims ever get! I think her playing the “victim” all the time has wore thin on the viewers. Maybe that is why she is not getting that much sympathy for her Franklin incident?

    Or, they can bring him back as Franklin’s twin brother? His twin brother is less cocky, darker, even more sinister, and vows to revenge his brother’s murder.

    Oh well, even if Franklin is gone forever, I am glad to know JF more. I am so impressed by his body of work and his acting talents; I will support what ever he does.

  23. Kait HJ says:

    aww the only bummer here is that they don’t mention my favorite film with him in it……where he delivered the Walmart Baby! “where the heart is” i thought he was awesome in that as well, and so cutely teddybearish :D

  24. Kait HJ says:

    i also have to say that i laughed my butt off when he says “hook-ahhh, Hook-Ahhhh….That’s a WaterPipe!” I blew a gasket laughing, especially because it was about a week after I saw it the 1st-3rd time when i finally heard it; and I only noticed it because i kept seeing TSHIRTS with Hookah and his Picture on them! It was awesome :D

  25. Cyberologist says:

    I’m just reading this interview but a great character too short lived I barely got to know Franklin then he was gone yes he was psychotic but Frain played him brilliantly…too bad for his fans those of us who hoped for something more…what a waste.

    I was terribly disappointed and his role on the Cape while its great to see him I’ll take him anyway I can its just not enough he’s a one dimensional cookie cutter villain IMO. TB should have kept Franklin around and not KO him so he could come back for another brief stint.

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