James Franco, Lola Sultan talk ‘In Dubious Battle’, mud and Franco possibly being a “goofball” (Video)

Stark Insider continues its ongoing coverage of the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) with an interview with James Franco and Lola Sultan at the screening of In Dubious Battle. Past segments include: Nicole Kidman (Lion), Amy Adams (Arrival), and Emma Stone (La La Land). 

The guy will just not stop.

James Franco continues to defy any definition of rational workload. The actor-director-writer-artist-producer-teacher has an ambitious new project making the film festival rounds. In Dubious Battle, adapted from one of John Steinbeck’s earlier and lesser known novels (published in 1936), tells the story of a fruit-workers’ strike in California.

“I always liked Steinbeck.”, says James Franco while attending the screening at the Mill Valley Film Festival this past weekend. “I had done a production Of Mice and Men on Broadway two years ago. After that I realized I wanted to do more Steinbeck, maybe a film. In Dubious Battle was one that was lesser known, but it had never been adapted.”

Franco directs and stars (and produces) in In Dubious Battle, alongside some other big names: Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Sam Shepard, Robert Duvall, Ed Harris and Analeigh Tipton to name a few.

And then there’s the (literally) little name: Lola Sultan.

Loni Stark interview with James Franco, Lola Sultan

Talking to Lola outside the CineArts Sequoia in Mill Valley, I realized I had finally — finally — interviewed someone shorter than me. Then again, she’s only nine years old. I also discovered that although this is her feature film debut, Lola is incredibly composed for her age. Witty too. And I should point out, most importantly, smart enough to know to throw in a compliment or two to her fellow actor and director James Franco — the guy “up there.”

“I got to meet Nat Wolff and other people.”, said Lola Sultan moments before the screening at MVFF. “And I got to be in a movie that James Franco is in.”

One problem though… she didn’t get to see Franco often. Because he was “up there” and she was “down here” — hmm, I think I can relate.

My understanding is that the producers are still looking for domestic distribution for In Dubious Battle. The $15 million epic has been receiving very positive reviews from festival go-ers. I hope it can make it to either theatrical release, or possibly more likely to somewhere like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

“I thought it would be incredibly cinematic,” Franco said. “So we got the rights.”

IN PHOTOS: James Franco and Lola Sultan at the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF)

James Franco talks about IN DUBIOUS BATTLE - Video
James Franco talks about ‘In Dubious Battle’, his new film adaptation of a John Steinbeck novel.
James Franco at the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) - Video
James Franco is no stranger to risky business.
Actress Lola Sultan talks with Loni Stark about her debut feature film In Dubious Battle.
Actress Lola Sultan talks with Loni Stark about her debut feature film ‘In Dubious Battle’.
James Franco with Loni Stark - In Dubious Battle
‘In Dubious Battle’ is one of Steinbeck’s “Dustbowl Trilogy” which includes ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.
James Franco and Loni Stark - Goofball moment
James Franco and Loni Stark share a “goofball” moment at the Mill Valley Film Festival in 2010.
Loni Stark interviews James Franco - Mill Valley Film Festival
James Franco has several new projects in the works including an HBO series ‘The Deuce’ and a film about San Francisco arthouse figure Tommy Wiseau.

Long-time Stark Insider readers may recall my “Goofball” encounter with James Franco at the premiere of Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. It was one of my first interviews. Safe to say, I piled on a few errors — “127 Days”? Oh well, you live and learn, and hopefully you get another chance. Thankfully, Franco, as you can see in the above video of his 2016 MVFF appearance, was gracious, generous with his time, and also kind enough to share the moment with not only up-and-comer (and super-cute) Lola Sultan, but also with some of his family.

As for the genesis of the “goofball”? I know, we are all so anxious to know. It came about when James Franco spent time with hiker and 127 hours subject Aron Ralston. I asked him what he thought of Aron. He said he was a “little goofball.” We took what we could and ran with it, for better or worse. Are you a goofball? Am I a goofball? Dig deep, this is Stark Insider.

Until we meet again!

Mill Valley Film Festival runs through Sunday, October 16, 2016. Get out there if you can. Marin (just north of San Francisco) is a beautiful place to spend time, and watch some movies.

WATCH: James Franco and Lola Sultan talk about IN DUBIOUS BATTLE, walking through mud, John Steinbeck, and the possibility of Franco being a “Goofball”

Explore. Create. Live. Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 9,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Subscribe to 
Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.