Laconic James Franco to serve as "enthusiastic" Daytona grand-marshal

The bored-seeming actor will declare "Drivers start your engines!" at the famous speedway.

By Daniel D'Addario

Published February 8, 2013 3:56PM (EST)

 (AP/Peter Kramer)
(AP/Peter Kramer)

James Franco is about to star in his first big-budget movie since 2011, "Oz the Great and Powerful." And in order to promote the expensive Disney fantasy about a Wizard of Oz, he's going to end up in some unfamiliar places.

He's set to appear as the grand marshal of the Daytona 500 later in the month; his last big live appearance, you may recall, ended poorly, with Franco criticized for his utter lack of energy or interest in his Oscar-hosting gig.

If James Franco wants to continue being a very famous actor (and though "Oz" was greenlighted years ago, and his feelings may have changed, the sort of tiny-scale documentaries Franco likes to make depend upon and refer to his fame), he'll have to do embarrassing things like host the Oscars and appear at car racing events and get interviewed by E! and all the rest. The degree to which he's allowed to be "too cool" erodes when a multimillion-dollar-movie rests on his shoulders -- and making tiny independent films because it's the only thing he can book, rather than as a break from big-budget fare, is much less fun.

In a press release, Daytona International Speedway's president says, "We’re looking forward to hearing James’ enthusiastic starting command to kick off the Daytona 500." It sounds like a warning -- be enthusiastic or else.

Daniel D'Addario

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Celebrities James Franco Oz The Great And Powerful