February 28th, 2011
12:21 PM ET
With his Academy Awards-hosting gig now complete, James Franco can finally focus on all those other oddball projects he has in the pipeline, like teaching a college course about himself, producing a college musical and developing a "Three's Company" play and movie.
While some may find the Oscar nominee's recent career choices unusual, they make perfect sense to Aron Ralston, the man Franco portrayed in director Danny Boyle's "127 Hours."
"He's so impassioned with his artistry, and the strangeness of all of [the projects] just tells me it's very authentic to him," Ralston tells CNN of the Oscars host. "It's all very genuine expression. He's not doing it for attention or acclaim or money or fame. I don't think at all that it's some Joaquin Phoenix, like, 'I'm going to do a story about a hoax of my life as an act of performance.'"
"127 Hours" — which arrives on DVD on March 1 — tells the harrowing yet inspiring story of how Ralston became trapped by a boulder in a Utah canyon for five days in 2003 and ultimately amputated his right arm to free himself. Franco plays Ralston as an arrogant, self-centered adventurer, and Ralston is happy with the way he is portrayed on screen.
"People don't relate to superhumans but they can relate to someone who has faults and regrets," he says. "You might think it's a little harsh, but it shows the journey, where I was and where I've come in almost the last eight years now."
The experience taught Ralston to shift his focus toward others and to cherish the relationships in his life, and witnessing that awakening in "127 Hours" makes him emotional.
"It's really a virtual experience, a vicarious reality; you go through what I went through — the despair, the reaching out for connection," he explains. "And it reminds me of what's really important in my life."
That includes wife Jessica and their one-year-old boy, Leo. "I look forward to being able to do adventures together, to help him through his learning curve of discovery and enjoyment of the outdoors," Ralston says of his son.
While "127 Hours" may not have taken home best picture or best actor Oscars, Ralston says that, true to the cliché, it really is just an honor to be nominated.
"It was a tremendous year in movies. Maybe in another year we might have had a stronger shot at picking up a couple of statues, but I don't really care about that," he tells CNN. "Just to be here in Los Angeles, to go to the Oscars, it's a celebration in and of itself."
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