James Franco Waxes Nostalgic About McDonald’s Job: “Still Love” It

James Franco
James Franco wrote about his time working at McDonald's.   Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Years before nabbing acting accolades for 127 Hours and pushing boundaries with The Interview, James Franco was deep-frying potatoes and flipping burgers at his local McDonald's.

The Spring Breakers star, 37, shared his history with the fast-food chain in a new Washington Post op-ed, in which he voiced his love and support for the Golden Arches. Franco sounded off on McDonald's at a time when the company has been struggling to reclaim its spot in the casual dining food chain. 

"McDonald’s sales have slumped," Franco began in his column, published on Thursday, May 7. "Maybe the public wants healthier food. Maybe there’s too much competition. Maybe people aren’t into the chipotle barbecue snack wrap… All I know is that when I needed McDonald’s, McDonald’s was there for me. When no one else was."

Looking back on his early days as an aspiring actor, The Oscar-nominated star said he was looking to make ends meet, and after getting fired from a coffee shop job, he considered McDonald's.

"Someone asked me if I was too good to work at McDonald's," he writes. "Because I was following my acting dream despite all the pressure not to, I was definitely not too good to work at McDonald’s. I went to the nearest Mickey D’s and was hired the same day."

Franco, who explained that he "wore a purple visor and purple polo shirt" with the classic headset while working the late shift drive-thru position, worked on his acting skills on the job by "putting on fake accents with the customers to practice for my scenes in acting class."

He also got other perks from the job, slowly developing a taste for the American food. 

"I had been a vegetarian for a year before working there because I was obsessed with River Phoenix, a staunch vegetarian — he actually cried on a date with Martha Plimpton when she ordered soft-shell crabs," Franco explained. "But as soon as I got to McDonald’s and was paying my own way, I started eating the cheeseburgers that were headed for the trash after being under the warming lamps from more than seven minutes. I would also sneak frozen apple bars and eat them in the freezer, still frozen — great with coffee."

"I hate to whistleblow, but everyone ate straight from the fry hopper," he added. "You’d walk by and snag a fry and pop it in your mouth. So easy. I also put tons of salt on the fries because that’s how I like them. I don’t know if the customers ever complained."

The California native went on to detail his career progression with McDonald's, moving up in the ranks to the front counter, where he had to deal with nasty customers and parents ordering for their children, before quitting the job once he landed a part in a Pizza Hut commercial. 

"I was treated fairly well at McDonald’s," the star wrote of his time at the fryer. "If anything, they cut me slack. And, just like their food, the job was more available there than anywhere else. When I was hungry for work, they fed the need." 

"I still love the simplicity of the McDonald’s hamburger and its salty fries," he added. "Maybe once a year, while on a road trip or out in the middle of nowhere for a movie, I'll stop by a McDonald’s and get a simple cheeseburger: light, and airy, and satisfying." 

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