In May 2010, he was cast to star in Rupert Wyatt's million budgeted Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the Planet of the Apes series which was released on August 5.
Franco starred alongside Winona Ryder in The Letter, originally entitled The Stare, directed by Jay Anania.
In her New York Times review, critic Manohla Dargis wrote: "He's delightful as Saul, loosey-goosey and goofy yet irrepressibly sexy, despite that greasy curtain of hair and a crash pad with a zero WAF (Woman Acceptance Factor).
It's an unshowy, generous performance and it greatly humanizes a movie that, as it shifts genre gears and cranks up the noise, becomes disappointingly sober and self-serious".
While filming James Dean, the actor, to get into character, cut off communication with his family and friends, as well as his then-girlfriend. To prepare for his role, he met with sex workers or people who had previously been prostitutes.Of Franco's character, Apatow said, "You tell him, 'Okay, you're going to play a pot dealer', and he comes back with a three-dimensional character you totally believe exists.He takes it very seriously, even when it's comedy".For his role in 127 Hours (2010), Franco was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.He is also known for his roles in Spider-Man, Pineapple Express (2008), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Spring Breakers (2012), Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), and King Cobra (2016) and other films, as well as TV roles in General Hospital and .
For the former, he did eight months of boxing training and for the latter, he practiced horseback riding and sword fighting.