I had an off-the-record encounter with Danny Boyle recently, and naturally he couldn’t stop raving about James Franco. He noted that he’d overcome the pretty boy-to-serious-actor hurdle with incredible grace and public and critical acceptance, whereas many actors flounder for years.  And it’s true. It’s pretty remarkable how the guy went from being a bit of a goof to being acclaimed and adored … while still managing to be a bit of a goof.

It looks like Franco will be skipping over another milestone before his years, as he’s now turning an eye to directing major features. Roger Friedman sat down with Franco, who revealed he was working with the William Faulkner estate to get the rights to As I Lay Dying.  He wants to sit in the director’s chair, and hopes to be there by spring. It’s not clear whether he intends to act in the film, though there’s plenty of angry young men in the novel … he’d be fine as any one of them.

Franco also has his eye on directing Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, which McCarthy fans have been clamoring for someone to take on for years. An adaptation hovers on IMDB with a release date of 2011. IndieWire emailed Scott Rudin (who is the producer on the long-awaited adaptation) and he denied Franco’s involvement.   In fact, they all but call Friedman a liar, which then has many suspecting the entire story.

We’ll see how it sorts out. It’s hard to say whether Franco will be a good director for either of these films since he’s never tackled anything like this before.  (As a commenter notes, and I feel I need to elaborate on, he’s done indie productions and shorts but nothing with a major release or budget.) I know which one I’d rather watch, though … but I’ve never been much of a Faulkner fan. (Sorry, Mr. Franco.)