James, Dave, and Tom: The Truth About the Franco Brothers

There are a few well-known siblings who have made it big in Hollywood, including James and Dave Franco. Whether you know James from his work in almost every Seth Rogan movie or Dave from Bad Neighbors, there’s no denying that these siblings have immense talent without being competitive.

Tom, Betsy, James, Dave Franco / Dave Franco and Alison Brie / James, Tom, and Dave Franco / James and Dave Franco.
Source: Getty Images

The two have carved different paths in Hollywood, but not everything is golden. Dave chose to distance himself from James, but they still have brotherly love. They also have a shared secret: their oldest brother Tom, the favorite yet unknown Franco brother. Clearly, there is more than meets the eye in the Franco family.

An Artsy Upbringing

James, Tom, and Dave Franco were born in Palo Alto, California, to Betsy and Douglas Franco. The Franco household was weird and artsy, according to Dave. Their parents were both painting majors in college, and they wanted their children to thrive in a nurturing, liberal, and academic environment.

A photo of the Franco family at the park.
Source: Facebook

Their friends assumed their Thanksgiving dinners consisted of the family sitting around making sculptures out of their mashed potatoes. Although it wasn’t the typical upbringing, the Franco brothers always felt loved and supported by their parents. They were encouraged to do whatever they wanted and follow their passions.

James Was a Math Genius

As the oldest, James had to set an example for his younger brothers. His father wanted him to get good grades, and he impressed his family with his academic abilities. James was the “math whiz” of the family and scored an internship at Lockheed Martin because of his knowledge and high test scores.

James, Tom, and Dave are sitting on the couch as kids.
Source: Twitter

While he was supposed to be a role model, James got into some trouble during his high school years. He was arrested for underage drinking, graffiti, and shoplifting. James said it was teen angst because he felt uncomfortable in his skin and shy. However, he turned things around in time to do well.

Worried About Rejection

James acted in school plays during high school, which sparked his interest in becoming an actor. He contemplated a career in marine zoology, but James was always pulled back to acting. However, he feared being rejected. Instead, James enrolled at UCLA as an English major to keep his path open-ended.

A photo of a young James Franco.
Source: Facebook

His time at UCLA was short as he dropped out after one year against his parents’ wishes. James would have had to wait two years to audition for the school’s acting program, but he didn’t want to wait that long. He decided to take acting classes and worked at McDonald’s to support himself.

Practice Makes Perfect

James’ parents didn’t want to financially support him after he dropped out of college, but he made the most of it. While working at McDonald’s, James would practice accents on customers to hone his skills. He later wrote an editorial titled, “McDonald’s was there for me when no one else was.”

James Franco in a still from Never Been Kissed.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox

His hard work paid off, and James got his first paid role after 15 months of training in a Pizza Hut commercial. James started getting guest roles on TV shows, but his big break didn’t come until 1999 when he landed the lead role in NBC’s short-lived Freaks and Geeks.

He Dove Into the Role

Freaks and Geeks was canceled after just 18 episodes, but it helped James get his name out there. He then landed roles in Never Been Kissed and Whatever It Takes. He was still working on his acting skills, so when he landed the role of James Dean, James saw it as an opportunity.

Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, and James Franco in a promo shot for Freaks and Greeks.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: DreamWorks SKG

He immersed himself in the role, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, bleaching his hair blonde, and learning to play the guitar and ride a motorcycle. James spent hours learning about Dean by studying his movies and reading books about him.

Worldwide Fame

In 2002, James’ career reached a new level when he played Harry Osborn, the son of the Green Goblin, in Spider-Man. He was originally considered for the role of Peter Parker, but Tobey Maguire was chosen over him. However, critics praised James’ performance.

James Franco and Willem Dafoe in a still from Spider-Man
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Sony Pictures

The blockbuster hit catapulted James to be a big-time movie star, with the film grossing over $820 million worldwide. It opened new doors for him in the film industry, and he reprised the role in 2004 for Spider-Man 2. James’ fame helped another family member get into the industry.

Along Came Dave

Unlike James, Dave didn’t envision himself becoming an actor. After high school, he studied at USC to become a high school creative writing teacher. But James’ manager saw potential in Dave and encouraged him to take theater and acting classes during his sophomore year.

A portrait of Dave Franco.
Source: Tumblr

His brother was already an established actor when Dave made his acting debut in 2006, appearing on the CW’s 7th Heaven. Unfortunately, his first prominent role in another CW show was short-lived after the series received low ratings and was ultimately canceled.

Wannabe Vampire

At the beginning of his career, Dave auditioned for many roles and faced many rejections. One part he sadly didn’t get was the role of Edward Cullen in Twilight. Dave met with director Catherine Hardwicke to discuss the role, but he doesn’t know if he was close to getting it.

A posed photo of Dave Franco.
Source: Tumblr

Everyone wanted to be in one of the book-turned-movie series that were popular in the 2000s because they launched the careers of many young actors. However, Dave would have to wait another few years before achieving big-screen success.

Distancing Himself

Although Dave started acting nearly a decade after his brother, he and James couldn’t avoid the constant comparisons. People would compare their mannerisms and acting styles, driving a wedge between the brothers. James and Dave wanted to be seen as individuals.

James Franco and Dave Franco attend
Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Dave and James never had a fight or falling out, but Dave chose to distance himself from his brother in order to carve his own path in Hollywood. He wanted to be taken seriously as a credible actor, so the two decided to refrain from working on films together until 2017.

James Didn’t Watch Dave’s Show

Before Dave made everyone swoon on the big screen, he had a brief stint on Scrubs. He landed a recurring role during the show’s ninth and final season as a medical student whose parents bought him the hospital internship. Dave received some positive praise for the performance.

Eliza Coupe, Michael Mosley, and Dave Franco in Scrubs.
Source: YouTube

Many of the show’s long-term viewers passed on watching its final season, and they weren’t the only ones. James admitted he didn’t watch any of Dave’s episodes because he stopped watching before the final season. He must not be Dave’s number one fan.

The Unknown Franco Brother

While many people often assume that there are only two Franco brothers, James and Dave have a middle sibling, Tom. Like Luke, “the forgotten” Hemsworth, Tom is not as well known as his brothers, but he is just as odd and eccentric.

James, Dave, and Tom pose together as they arrive at an event.
Source: Twitter

According to Dave, anyone who has met all three brothers can agree that Tom is the favorite. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dave said, “He’s the best one – the best looking, the sweetest, the nicest, greatest guy to be around. We keep him to ourselves. He’s our little secret.”

Tom Is an Artist

Tom tried his luck as an actor, receiving a few small roles, including an appearance in the comedy-horror film Basket Case 2 and an uncredited part in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. However, Tom’s true passion is art. He studied fine art and ceramics in college like his parents.

Tom Franco attends an art gallery event.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

After college, Tom founded Berkeley’s Firehouse Art Collective, where he often showcases his found-object sculptures. He has also collaborated with James on a few art exhibitions called Pipe Brothers, creating giant ceramic sculptures out of sewer pipes.

Cat Lovers

The Franco brothers are unique in their own ways, but one thing they admittedly have in common is their love of cats. Dave said the family always had cats when they were growing up, adding, “We are the strange family, where, over Christmas, we all bring home the cats.”

The Franco family poses with their cats.
Source: YouTube

Sometimes they had eight cats in the house at once, which they found out was illegal in Palo Alto, where they grew up. Dave has two 16-pound cats and is a self-proclaimed “weird cat guy.” They must have a good vacuum cleaner to deal with all that cat hair.

Their First Collaboration

Both James and Dave wanted to be seen as individuals, so they didn’t work together until 2017’s Disaster Artist. James directed, co-produced, and starred alongside Dave, turning the making of Tommy Wiseau’s “the best worst movie ever made” into a hit film.

Dave and James in a still from the film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: New Line Cinema

It took them 32 years to share the screen, but it was worth the wait. James played Wiseau, remaining in character throughout the entire shoot. Meanwhile, Dave portrayed Greg Sestero. The movie received positive reviews, and James’ portrayal gained worldwide praise. Tom also made an appearance.

A Win for the Family

All three brothers took part in Disaster Artist, making the film all the more powerful. It seems that three Francos are stronger than one because the film earned James a Golden Globe win for Best Actor. It was his second Golden Globe win after he took home the award for James Dean in 2002.

Tom, James, and Dave pose for a photo behind the scenes of The Disaster Artist.
Source: Twitter

While many people would have loved to see the Franco brothers work on more projects together, James decided to slow down and take time for himself towards the end of 2017. He has since returned to the screen, but not with his brothers.

James Under Fire

It should have been a triumphant time for James as he had just won a Golden Globe, but the praise quickly turned into ridicule. In 2018, five women came forward with allegations of inappropriate or sexually exploitive behavior against James, and four were his former students.

A portrait of James Franco.
Photo by Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis/Getty Images

The women said they had negative experiences with him on set, claiming James took advantage of their eagerness to work and be a part of something bigger. And this wasn’t his first offense. In 2014, he was caught messaging an underage girl on Instagram.

It Didn’t End There

Shortly after the allegations came to light, James spoke to Stephen Colbert to clarify that the claims were inaccurate. He tried to defend himself, but more people came forward about his bad behavior. Busy Philipps shared that Franco screamed and pushed her on the set of Freaks and Geeks.

James Franco speaks during a Masterclass.
Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images

Two of Franco’s former students filed a lawsuit against him and his acting school partners the following year. They claimed that Franco and his associates used the Studio 4 acting school as a scheme to take advantage of young female performers.

Saving Face

James tried to save his reputation by settling the lawsuit privately in February 2021. He paid more than $2.2 million to resolve the legal disputes but denied the allegations. James settled with the women because he felt it was an important time to address the mistreatment of women in Hollywood.

James Franco walks the red carpet at the Golden Globes.
Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

It was as if he took accountability and denied it at the same time. People were also frustrated that James wore a Times Up pin at the Golden Globes because he was one of the men accused of using his power in Hollywood to take advantage of women.

A Bromance Is Born

After meeting on the set of Freaks and Geeks, the bromance between James and Seth Rogan began. He might have two biological brothers, but Rogan became his “chosen brother.” When the NBC series ended, James and Rogan began working on several projects together.

Seth Rogen and James Franco embrace.
Source: Reddit

After appearing together in Knocked Up, their first collaboration was in Pineapple Express, one of their most hilarious projects. James shared that he wrote poems about their friendship, making everyone feel that these two would be friends for life. Their friendship was so wholesome.

Their Friendship Changed

James and Rogan had been friends for nearly 20 years, but some friendships aren’t meant to last. When the allegations against James came out, Rogan initially stood by his friend. However, as more information was revealed, Rogan decided to distance himself from James.

James Franco and Seth Rogen attend the
Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Rogan said he does not support abuse and harassment, so he has no plans to work with James in the future. James gave his first interview in four years in 2021, agreeing with Rogan’s stance on the issue. He has no hard feelings toward his former friend.

Removing James’ Art

The Franco brothers are known for their creative talents, and James has successfully made a name for himself as an abstract artist. Rivaling Tom’s success, James’ paintings have been bought by the likes of Sharon Stone and Tom DeLonge. But the allegations have hurt his career.

James poses beside his art in a gallery.
Source: Facebook

His high school previously displayed a mural he painted and a series of paintings James donated, but they have since been removed. The superintendent didn’t say if it was related to the allegations, but the timing was certainly coincidental.

Tom’s Tragedy

Tom hasn’t shared much of his life with the public, but he gained attention for his marriage to Julia Lazar. Like Tom, Lazar was also an artist, and they co-founded the Firehouse Art Collective a year after meeting. They helped many artists in the community share their work.

Tom and Julia are laughing on their wedding day.
Source: Twitter

Sadly, their relationship was cut short. After getting engaged, Lazar was diagnosed with liver cancer. Tom and Lazar got married in the hospital a month before she died. The tragedy hit the Franco family hard, and they rallied around Tom to mourn her loss.

Dave’s Leading Lady

Many women would love to date Dave, but he has been a taken man since 2012 when he started dating Alison Brie from Community. After five years together, Dave and Brie got married in a secret ceremony, but he didn’t wear a wedding ring.

Dave Franco and Alison Brie go to a drive-in.
Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

The press questioned if there was trouble in paradise, but there wasn’t much to the story. Dave said his ring was too small, and he hadn’t gotten it resized. He and Brie had nothing but positive things to say about married life.

The Cats Forced Him to Get Married

Before Dave dated Brie, he said he was a single guy with two 16-pound cats. His friends said he needed to stop focusing on his cats and bringing them to interviews, but Dave “couldn’t help it.” Luckily, Brie didn’t mind Dave’s furry friends.

A selfie of Dave, Alison, and their cat in bed.
Source: Twitter

Dave joked that his wife was his only option when it came to marriage because no one else would put up with his cat obsession. Realistically, not many people would be happy about sharing a bed with 32-pounds of fluff. Brie was a keeper for that reason alone.

Dave and James Share Friends

James isn’t the only Franco brother to have worked with Rogan. One of Dave’s biggest roles was in Rogan’s Neighbors and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Rogan and James were still friends then, so working with his brother’s best friend must have been fun.

Seth Rogen, Dave Franco, and Zac Efron attend the 2014 MTV Movie Awards.
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images

We can only assume that Dave is standing by his brother’s side, so it’s unclear if Dave and Rogan are still friendly. Maybe out of solidarity, Dave won’t work with Rogan as long as he is not working with James. Blood is thicker than water, so Dave is loyal to his family.

Dorm Room Mishap

Dave might not have finished college, but he made a lasting impact on the school. He lived in the dorms and shared a room with two other students like a typical college kid. One day they smelled something strange in the room, forgetting they had lit a candle.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco, and Zac Efron on the set of Neighbors.
Source: Universal Studios

The candle set fire to their dorm room after they left it unattended. As a result, Dave had to sleep on his friend’s laundry pile for two weeks until the room was fixed. That’s one way to leave a mark at school.

He’s the “Chill One”

The Franco brothers have big, artistic, and eccentric personalities. James and Dave have shown their quirky sides to the public, but Tom isn’t that well known. Tom claims he is the “chill, calm one” out of the three brothers. He claims that people say he is the most normal.

James Franco, Tom Franco, and Dave Franco attend the Art of Elysium event.
Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images

However, their mother describes Tom as the “free spirit of the bunch.” She said he used to gather loose objects off the street and use it in his artwork. Maybe he appears normal to others, but Tom is just as whacky as Dave and James.

Mom’s Favorite

Every mom will say they don’t have a favorite child, but there is always one who gets the most attention. While Betsy Franco has never said who her favorite son is, Dave might have won the top spot. When he first started to make money, he bought something special for his mom.

The Franco brothers are out to dinner with their mother.
Source: Facebook

Dave saw that his mom’s TV was ancient and looked like a big brick, so he used the money from his first big acting job to buy her a flat-screen TV. He wanted to say thank you for all the support she gave him throughout the years.

James Made an Enemy

When he first started his career, James didn’t get off on the right foot with a few other actors, including Fast and Furious star Tyrese Gibson. They butted heads in 2006 while promoting the Navy boxing film, Annapolis. Gibson wasn’t a fan of James’ acting style.

James Franco and Tyrese Gibson, a still from Annapolis.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Touchstone Pictures

James is known for his method acting style, and he refused to break character leading up to the film’s final scene. He would continuously swing punches at Gibson during rehearsals and refused to loosen up. Gibson doesn’t have plans to work with James again.

James Had to Back Out

When Christopher Nolan took on the mind-bending film Inception, both James and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were stars on the rise. James initially got the role of Arthur alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, and Michael Caine. However, we never got to see this dynamic group on screen.

James Franco attends a screening of
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images

James had to drop out of the film due to scheduling conflicts, and the role went to Gordon-Levitt instead. James had plenty of film opportunities, so this was just another movie that got away. We would still like to see these talented actors’ team up sometime.

He Had to Address This

People have questioned James’ sexual orientation for a while, and the actor decided it was time to give everyone an answer. In a strange interview with FourTwoNine, James “interviewed” “gay James Franco” and asked him, “Are you gay or what?”

James Franco and Sean Penn in a still from Milk.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Focus Features

James has been in films like Milk, and I am Michael, leaving the media to wonder about his preferences. When James finally answered the question, he said, “I am gay in my art and straight in my life.” It didn’t matter what his preference was, but everyone wanted to know.

James Wasn’t Nice to Her

As you can tell, James has had the most controversial moments out of the three brothers. He ruffled feathers on the set of Freaks and Geeks when he shoved Busy Philipps to the ground. During their improv scene, she fakes slapped him, and he retaliated too seriously.

James and Busy on the set of Freaks and Geeks.
Source: YouTube

It turned the entire cast against James, and no one wanted to hang out with him besides Rogan. He made matters worse by yelling at her, saying, “Don’t ever touch me.” The two have since made amends, but they won’t be working together in the future.

Dave Doesn’t Want Children

Although he is married to Brie, and they have a loving relationship, Dave has said he doesn’t plan to have children. Brie said it is stressful enough with two cats, so they cannot imagine how hectic life would be with a baby.

Dave Franco and Alison Brie of
Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images

Dave and Brie have busy schedules, so they don’t know how they would plan a pregnancy that fits their lifestyle. They are doing well and don’t feel they need to have children. Their decision could change, but they are happy with their fur babies for now.

He’s a Workaholic

All three brothers are hard workers, but James has said he has workaholic tendencies. He was once one of the busiest men in Hollywood because he was working as an actor, director, writer, producer, poet, student, and teacher. That’s a lot of jobs for one person.

James Franco is seen walking on the street.
Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Often times, James would balance his multiple careers at once, insisting that he enjoyed his life that way. However, in 2017, James announced that he would be taking a break, which didn’t last long. It’s safe to say that James is addicted to work.

Stuck in the Middle

Recently, James found himself involved in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s divorce case. James was subpoenaed in January 2020 to testify during the trial. He was seen in a surveillance video with Heard in an elevator a day before domestic violence allegations came out.

James Franco and Amber Heard attend the premiere of
Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Getty Images

James didn’t really want to be involved, so he requested that any information he provided and his participation be kept from the public. As the trial has made headlines over the past several weeks, we wonder what information James gave to help investigators.

He Plays the Ukulele

In the 2010 film Eat, Pray, Love, James’ character plays the ukulele for a few seconds. Unlike his character, James has kept up with the instrument and practices his skills often. Playing the ukulele has become one of his favorite hobbies when he has free time.

James Franco plays the Ukulele in a still from Eat, Pray, Love.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Columbia Pictures

James admitted that he began playing in a ukulele group with other actors and producers. It seems kind of dorky but wholesome. We can imagine James and other celebrities sitting in a circle jamming on their ukuleles. Some people would pay to see that.

The Richest Brother

While all three brothers are successful, James has the highest net worth. Despite his busy schedule, Dave is worth a mere $10 million compared to James’ net worth of $50 million. They both live very comfortable lives, but James has worked hard to make his millions.

Dave Franco, James Franco and Tom Franco attend a after party.
Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Although Tom is not an actor, he has a substantial net worth of $500,000. The brothers aren’t competitive with each other and don’t care who has more money. Their parents are proud of each of them regardless of their net worth.

Not His Best Work

James has worked on several big projects during his career, and not all of them were hits. According to reviews, one of his recent films was the worst one of his careers. The 2019 film, Zeroville, was named the worst movie of 2019.

James Franco and others in a still from Zeroville.
Source: myCinema

James starred alongside Rogan, Megan Fox, and Dave. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a success in everyone’s eyes. Luckily, James has plenty of other projects on his resume, so one bad film isn’t going to sink his career. The allegations against him didn’t even affect his work much.

Dave Is a Romantic

One thing that sets Dave apart from his brothers is his sense of romance. He knows how to make grand gestures, and he has been like that since high school. While dating his high school girlfriend, he delivered a rose to each of her teachers on her birthday.

James Franco poses for photographers.
Photo by Francois G. Durand/Getty Images

He wanted her to get a flower in each class. Dave is adorable, and he hasn’t lost his sense of romance over the years. While the two keep their relationship private, we can only imagine the romantic gestures he has made for Brie.