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Franco praised for I Am Michael


James Franco at Sundance Film Festival in 2015

James Franco at Sundance Film Festival in 2015

James Franco at Sundance Film Festival in 2015

James Franco has revealed that former gay activist Michael Glatze thanked him for playing him in new movie, I Am Michael.

Justin Kelly's film tells the story of Michael, who denounced homosexuality and became a Christian pastor. The movie was produced by Gus Van Sant.

"I haven't had that many conversations with him," admitted James at the film's debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

"I met him (Michael) in person for the first time here at the festival. He made a point to come up to me and thank me, and he said he loved the movie. I think it was very healing for him."

The 127 Hours star admitted he felt some responsibility playing Michael in the true-life story, which also stars Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts.

"We did have Michael's permission and his relationship to this material is different than any of the real life people I have portrayed. Where we start in Michael's life in the movie, is far from where he is right now," the actor explained.

"So in a way, we had to show to him we were going to have a very even-handed, non-judgemental approach, but we also had to say to ourselves, 'We're not telling this story just to make Michael happy, we're telling the story to get both sides'. The best we could do was say to him was, 'We have good intentions. We're not going to crucify or judge you but we also need to tell the story from the other side as well as the side you're on now'."

I Am Michael - based on Benoit Denizet-Lewis' 2011 article in the New York Times Magazine, titled My Ex-Gay Friend - tackles the subject of conversion therapy, as well as Michael's anti-gay pieces of writing.

Director Justin said: "I was interested in the story because everyone attacked Michael when he wrote all these hateful articles but he's since changed a lot. I was interested in wanting to find out why, rather than vilifying him.

"The goal from day one was for me, Gus and James to tell the story as it happened and let the audience determine at the end whether he is being true to him or not. It's about the journey to get him from one point to another."

James' co-star Charlie Carver, who plays Tyler, called the movie a "risk."

"It's risky. It's rare that you tell and give attention to something like conversion therapy, so I think it's pretty audacious that this was made," he said.

"I think there's a responsibility to tell the truth but also to not sensationalise things to an effect. It's a very sensitive subject," he added.

PA Media