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Fran Kranz on theater, film, and his haircut

BY ALEXIS SWERDLOFF

Leaning back on my common room futon, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a vintage Lacoste windbreaker, old school Adidas running shoes, and running his hands through his spiky blonde hair, Fran Kranz, MC '04, epitomizes cool. He speaks slowly and squints his eyes when he talks to you, so you can almost see him thinking.

COURTESY FRANZ KRANZ
Franz Kranz, MC '04 is willing to put off stardom for a while.

"The greatest part of acting is when you lose your sense of consciousness," he said. "The character just flows out of you. When you become aware of this, you snap out of that state. But it pumps me up just to know that I was once in that state of perfection. That is the essence of why I like to be on stage."

Kranz began acting after he took a required course called "Communications" in ninth grade at the Harvard Westlake School in North Hollywood, Calif. "People told me I was a good speaker, so I took an acting class," he explained. His teacher apparently saw his talent and told him to audition for the school play. Not surprisingly, he got the lead.

"My school had lots of connections with the `business,'" Kranz said. "Casting directors always called up my director looking for kids to audition for parts in movies and shows." Through these connections, he landed his first potential acting job. The summer before his junior year, Kranz guest-starred on Frasier as a character named Aaron.

"I decided that I was only going to act professionally during the summers and during vacations," Kranz said. "I was set on getting my high school diploma and then going to college."

Last summer, Kranz acted in a small play in Hollywood called Lily Livered Crash. He also worked on Donnie Darko, a small independent film shown at the Sundance Film Festival, which, according to Kranz, is a "really, really, really, really weird movie." It stars Noah Wyle, Drew Barrymore, and Patrick Swayze.

"My scene is actually the climax of the movie," Kranz said. "I get to run over a girl with my car—I got to ride in a stunt car."

During winter break, Kranz work-ed on Training Day, a film starring Den-zel Washington and Ethan Hawke. And over spring break, he plans to work on Orange County, a movie starring Colin Hanks and Jack Black about a highly qualified student who doesn't get into Stanford because the college counselor accidentally switches Hanks' transcript with the transcript of an underachieving pothead—played by Kranz.

"I only look at scripts that film either during the summer or over vacations, because I'm not willing to take time off from school. There's no need for me to be famous yet. I don't want to be a star now," Kranz, who plans to be a humanities major, said.

"I get tons of scripts from my agent to read every week. There's actually a package waiting in the Dean's Office for me now. I try to read a lot of them, but there are just too many," he said. I read American Beauty, but turned down an audition for the part as Ricky. The script was different—there was this awful ending that I thought was really pretentious."

When asked about his inspirations, he runs both his hands through his hair again, sighs, and says, "Sir Alec Guin-ness. After I saw him play Fagan in Oliver Twist, I really was able to see what an actor is capable of doing. Before seeing Oliver Twist, I had only seen him as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. The juxtaposition of those two very different roles showed me the range of what a good actor can do."

Kranz has made a name for himself among Yale's drama crowd. He appeared in Antony and Cleopatra last fall and is now reahearsing for Sideman and A Chorus Line.

Kranz prefers theater to film. He said, "While working on Donnie Darko, I felt like all the actors were little prostitutes and the director dictated our every move. I haven't done that much film work, but it seems to me that a film isn't the actor's work. In a play, you control the character—it's really your role. Theater is much more of an art."

Finally, I ask him the question that every Yale student wants to know: "How do you get your hair to be spiky like that?"

"My hair actually has a history," he replied. "I played Judas in a high school production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I decided that Judas needed blue hair so I dyed mine blue. My parents then forced me to bleach it back for graduation. So, my hair got f**ked up. It was really damaged, so I had to cut it. That's how the spikes originated. I never comb it—I just wipe it with a towel. And I only wash it about twice a week." However, for all those Fran Kranz wannabes, he cautioned, "My hair is a mystery within itself. No one will ever be able to have hair as cool as mine."

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