Feb. 19, 2016

Actor-director James Franco named 2016 convocation speaker

James Franco
Franco

Critically acclaimed actor James Franco, best known for his roles as James Dean, adventurer Aron Ralston and in the “Spider-Man” trilogy, will give the keynote address at this year’s Senior Convocation on Saturday, May 28, during Cornell’s 148th Commencement Weekend.

“We are extremely excited and honored that he accepted our invitation and are confident that his address will be powerful and enlightening,” said Zachary Benfanti ’16, chairman of the student-run 2016 Convocation Committee, which selects the speaker.

After starring in the TV cult classic “Freaks and Geeks,” Franco earned a Golden Globe for his depiction of the 1950s film icon in the 2001 made-for-TV film, “James Dean.” He also earned critical praise and an Oscar nomination for his starring role in the 2010 drama, “127 Hours,” in which he portrayed outdoorsman Ralston, who was forced to amputate his right forearm after becoming trapped by a boulder during an expedition in Utah in 2003.

Franco played Harry Osborn, Peter Parker’s best friend, in the “Spider-Man” movies in 2002, ’04 and ’07. His other big-screen credits include “Milk,” “Pineapple Express,” “Date Night,” Your Highness” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful.” He wrote, directed and starred in “Good Time Max” and “The Ape.”

He can currently be seen in the Hulu eight-part miniseries, "11-22-63," a science-fiction thriller adapted from the 2011 novel by Stephen King. Franco plays high school teacher Jake Epping, who is tasked with traveling back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The first episode aired Feb. 15.

In addition to his work in films, Franco partners with two charitable organizations: Art of Elysium, a Los Angeles-based group that helps children with disabilities; and 826DC, which is dedicated to helping Washington, D.C., students excel.

Franco, 37, received his bachelor’s degree in English, with a concentration in creative writing, from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2008.

Convocation is scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. on May 28 in Schoellkopf Stadium. Tickets are not required, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. In the event of inclement weather, tickets will be available for students to download from cornelltickets.com.