CBS’s Smith Reviews Harvey Milk Movie: ‘A Must-See’

Harry Smith and James Franco, CBS On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed actor James Franco, who stars opposite Sean Penn in a new movie about gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk: "Actor James Franco is here to talk about his role in the much-talked-about new movie, 'Milk.' He is amazing in it." At the end of the show, Smith thanked Franco for being a guest and offer this review of the movie: "James Franco in 'Milk,' amazing performance. Sean Penn, off the charts. It's a must-see for everybody."

On November 30, CBS’s Sunday Morning offered a similar glowing description of the film, describing Milk as a "rebel with a cause." In the Wednesday interview, Smith described Franco’s role in the movie as a career-maker: "...there’s this completely other performance here. I mean, there's a part of you that's go to be, ‘this means I have a career,’ and 'I'm not just -- I'm not the pretty face on the Gucci ads, I get a career now.’"

Here is the full transcript of the Wednesday segment,

7:01AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: Actor James Franco who's starring in 'Milk' with Sean Penn, getting rave reviews. He'll be here to talk about his big role this morning as well.

8:00AM TEASE:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Actor James Franco stops by, he's getting Oscar buzz for his latest role in 'Milk.'

[CLIP FROM 'MILK]

JAMES FRANCO: You know, I remember when your birthday's were a little less lavish and a little more intimate.

SEAN PENN: Who invited you in?

[END OF CLIP]

8:01AM TEASE:

SMITH: And actor James Franco is here to talk about his role in the much-talked-about new movie, 'Milk.' He is amazing in it.

8:12AM TEASE:

BRANDY: Up next, James Franco talks about his critically acclaimed new movie, 'Milk.'

8:30AM TEASE:

SMITH: Also ahead, hot young actor -- those are Gucci boots, right? James, don't you do -- don't you do Gucci?

JAMES FRANCO: Yeah, you need some-

SMITH: See, it's a synergy thing.

BRANDY: Amazing.

SMITH: Right, okay. Yeah, he is amazing.

BRANDY: He is.

SMITH: He's here to talk about his brand new movie based on the life of Harvey Milk, so that's what we're going to talk about in a minute.

8:33AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Actor James Franco is having a breakout year. This summer, he played a stoner in the hit comedy 'Pineapple Express,' now he is receiving Oscar buzz for his role as Harvey Milk's lover and confidante in the new film 'Milk.'

[CLIP FROM 'MILK']

SEAN PENN: Can I just tell you-

JAMES FRANCO: If you say anything about politics, or the campaign, or what speech you have to give, or anything, I swear to God, I'm going to stab you with this fork.

SEAN PENN: I just wanted to say that this is the most wonderful dinner I have ever had. If we lose this, it'll just be you and me again, I promise.

[END OF CLIP]

SMITH: Right. James Franco is here this morning. Good morning, good to see you, man.

FRANCO: Good to see you.

SMITH: Wow, what a movie.

FRANCO: Yes.

SMITH: For people who don't understand, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to an important public office in the United States of America.

FRANCO: Yeah.

SMITH: He was subsequently assassinated.

FRANCO: Yes.

SMITH: You play?

FRANCO: I play Scott Smith, his partner, who -- Harvey Milk had to run four times before he was elected to office. And my character helped him with his early campaigns, not knowing anything about politics. You know, they moved out to San Francisco together and-

SMITH: At least in the movie, you very much are the emotional spine to Sean Penn's character.

FRANCO: Yeah. I mean, that was -- I think that was one of the good things about this movie. You know, it's kind of like a bio pic, but not really. It doesn't feel like that to me. And I think one of the ways that they just got around that is he makes it a very personal story and you really get to see that the, you know, the private life of Harvey Milk.

SMITH: Did you and Sean talk about this ahead of time or did you show up on the set and he -- because he -- he goes some place with this.

FRANCO: Correct.

SMITH: I mean this is -- there's a kind of an affectation, but it is -- he makes a serious commitment to this role.

FRANCO: Yeah, yeah.

SMITH: Did you talk about it ahead of time?

FRANCO: Yeah, I mean we had rehearsals and stuff like that as far as like the scenes go. And you know, he's Sean. Everybody that shows up on the set is thinking, like, 'okay I just don't want to, you know, screw up with Sean Penn,' but he -- and you know, he's a guy of such a stature that he could easily intimidate everybody on set. But he was the complete opposite and was very, you know, welcoming and just encouraging and really brought everyone together.

SMITH: What did it mean to you to do this movie? Because people know you from the 'Spiderman' movies. And then they know you, they think they know you, from 'Pineapple Express' and then there's this completely other performance here. I mean, there's a part of you that's go to be, 'this means I have a career,' and 'I'm not just -- I'm not the pretty face on the Gucci ads, I get a career now.'

FRANCO: Well, I was trying to play the character from 'Pineapple Express,' did that not come across?

SMITH: [Laughter] That worked, but you can only make so many of those movies before people say 'oh, that's that guy who does that all the time.'

FRANCO: That's what they say about you.

SMITH: [Laughter] Exactly right. Exactly right.

FRANCO: No I -- no it was an incredible opportunity and I actually -- I actually pursued it. I heard Gus was doing it. I was in London studying and I wrote him an e-mail and just told him, you know, I'd do anything to be a part of this movie. And also just because, you know, because it's such an important movie, but also, you know, he's been one of my favorite directors since I started.

SMITH: That's not a bad troika, the three of you guys working together on a movie?

FRANCO: It was, I mean, truly a dream to -- to work with both those guys.

SMITH: And in the meantime, what people may not know is you're simultaneously studying film at NYU right now and writing at Columbia?

FRANCO: Yes.

SMITH: Right. And making movies.

FRANCO: That's why -- I thought my classes were early. This is pretty early. [Laughter] But I just didn't -- you know, I'm -- I'm in the film program and we had to work on documentaries, so I just did a documentary on the behind the scenes of SNL. And I know that you've, for Biography, you did the same.

SMITH: Did the same, yeah. We'll compare notes.

FRANCO: Yes, we will.

SMITH: You're such a good teacher, that's why I did that, that thing.

FRANCO: You've got it down, what have you been smoking this morning?

SMITH: Just -- just the biscotti that's it. Thanks man, good to see you.

FRANCO: Good to see you.

SMITH: Congratulations.

8:52AM TEASE

SMITH: James Franco in 'Milk,' amazing performance. Sean Penn, off the charts. It's a must-see for everybody. Thanks for stopping by this morning.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC