Dave Franco talks ‘Nerve,’ his future acting career

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Dave Franco stars as Ian in "Nerve." The film follows him and Vee (Emma Roberts) as they race to complete increasingly difficult dares as part of an online game.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment | Daily Texan Staff

In his latest film, “Nerve,” out Tuesday, Dave Franco’s character, Ian, rides a motorcycle while blindfolded, sings in the middle of a restaurant and runs through a department store in nothing but his underwear, all in hopes of winning the online-only dare game Nerve and the cash prize that comes with it. The Daily Texan sat down with Franco to talk about his biggest fears, the future of his acting career and the behind-the-scenes of making “Nerve.”

The Daily Texan: What initially interested you in “Nerve”?

Dave Franco: A few things: First, it was a role I’ve never played before. I’ve done mostly comedies up until this point and this was a little bit more of a serious role and more of a serious movie, in general. I liked the fact that it felt like an original story — that’s my main criteria for choosing projects these days. I want to be involved in movies that feel original or at least are attempting to bring something new to the table. The directors themselves were also a huge draw for me as well. They just have good taste and after I sat down with them initially, I knew they were going to make the best version of this movie possible.

DT: What was working on this set like?

DF: Set was extremely fun but also very challenging for many reasons. We were shooting in New York, and almost the entirety of the movie takes place at night so our schedule was 5 p.m. until 5 or 6 a.m. — whenever the sun came up. That takes a toll on you. It’s one of these things when you go to bed around 7 a.m. and wake up around 1 p.m. and feel like you’re in a constant state of fogginess or hungover even though you didn’t drink anything the night before. When you do that for 2 1/2 straight months, you go a little crazy at points. But filming in New York was extremely fun because you can feel the energy of the city when you’re out at night. We’d be filming on the streets and crowds of people would gather around because they were curious about what we were doing and it felt like art imitating life that we had all these “watchers” following us wherever we went to the point where we would actually turn the cameras on them as if they were “watchers” and use some of that footage in the movie. D T: If “Nerve” was real, would you be a watcher or a player?

DF: I would be a watcher. I’m pretty lame these days. I’m 31 now, and I feel like I experienced my quota of risk-taking growing up where I don’t want to put myself in harm’s way anymore if I don’t need to. I love my simple, boring life where I stay in with my cats most weekend, or if I do go out, it’s meeting up with friends for dinner. I’m the happiest I think I’ve ever been.

DT: If you had to do one of the dares from the movie, which would you do?

DF: I probably wouldn’t do any of them in my real life, but while promoting this movie, Emma [Roberts] and I decided we wanted to sing in public, just like my character does in the movie. So we went out in New York, and I went into the Apple store and belted out the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.” We want to start a little campaign and we’re going to post those videos soon and hope that other people post videos of themselves singing in public too. It’s something that will help them get out of their shells a little bit, too. DT: This film deals a lot with people’s fears. What’s your biggest fear?

DF: Turbulence on an airplane. I’m a pussy when it comes to flying anywhere. It’s not one of things where if there’s turbulence I’m going to be the guy who’s screaming or praying in the middle of the aisle, but I do get quiet and my face probably loses all color and you will see me gripping onto the handrests. 

DT: What can people take away from this film?

DF: I think the movie will stay with people after the fact and people will analyze how they use social media and maybe think back on the times they were really mean to people over social media and try to change their ways. I think audiences will also think about how kids are so willing these days to put themselves in danger just to attain instant fame. This movie is slightly a cautionary tale about that. It’s not telling you, ‘don’t take risks,’ but if you do, do them for the right reasons. Don’t do it just to get more views and likes; do it because you are someone shy and you want to break out of your shell a little bit.DT: You play a lot of younger characters. Is that a challenge for you or does it make it harder to get more adult roles?

DF: It’s not really a choice — I don’t think anyone is going to hire me to play a character that’s actually my age. I look a lot younger than I am, which people say is a great thing, but to be honest, I just want to look my age sometimes. For a long time there, I was playing only high school characters or college characters. Thank God that, I think at least in the film world, I graduated from college. I would love to play roles that are closer to my age, it’s just that no one necessarily wants to hire me for those roles.

DT: Is acting something you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life?

DF: I don’t know. I can’t see myself being 60 or 70 years old and still fighting for roles, waiting in my trailer all day to be called to set. But the main reason I got into it at all is because I wanted to make movies, be involved in any way that I could. So if I’m not acting when I’m older, I still would love to do more behind-the-camera stuff — writing, producing or directing.

DT: Is there a character from a movie in the past that you would’ve loved to play?

DF: I remember when I read the script for “Little Miss Sunshine,” I fell in love with it. I remember reading it and laughing out loud by myself, which is very rare for a script to make me laugh that hard. Ultimately Paul Dano got the role and he was way better in that part than I would’ve ever been, but it was one of those movies where I wish I could’ve been a part of it in any capacity. I love that movie so much.

DT: Do you have advice for any young actors just starting out? 

DF: Everyone has a camera these days. There’s no excuse to not be making your own material and when you are doing that, there’s no excuse to not be taking huge risks. There’s no pressure. The worst-case scenario is that you make a video and no one sees it — who cares? Best case, you make a video that’s weird and crazy and somehow resonates with the public and it could help you get to that next level.