Long before Roger Howarth stepped into the role of Franco Baldwin on General Hospital, actor James Franco was in the role. In fact, James originated the role in 2009 and was featured as a “special guest” until the character’s supposed death in 2012.
When James first appeared on General Hospital, the role of Franco was that of a reclusive photographer and world-renowned artist. The character of Franco was also a serial killer whose evil deeds still haunt many in Port Charles today.
The actor first joined the iconic soap opera for a short-term stint, but he returned several times over the next few years. As ABC News detailed at the time, James pursued the General Hospital gig as he had never worked in soaps before. At one point, his mother, Betsy Franco, even appeared as his character’s mother.
SheKnows Soaps notes that the writers created the character specifically for the film actor, and James said he wanted to play an artist who was crazy. It was the writers who chose to name the character “Franco,” and ultimately, James felt that what they created was better than anything he could have asked for.
Franco’s storyline was originally slated to run for about 20 episodes and James filmed those in just three days on the General Hospital set. James decided to return the following summer for another short stint and he subsequently returned for additional appearances after that.
As Soap Central details, the character of Franco was connected to Jason and the death of Claudia Zacchara in the early days of his storyline. Franco eventually emerged as an artist landing in Port Charles and he had an art exhibit organized by Maxie and Kate, via Crimson.
Franco took Maxie to his studio, where he blindfolded her, took photos of her, and slept with her, despite her romantic relationship with Spinelli. Later, Franco killed Dante’s partner, Ronnie, and at various times he kidnapped Sam, Carly, and Lulu.
It was later revealed that Franco had arranged for Michael to be attacked while in prison for Claudia’s death. Jason found Franco and chased him to the top of a building, and Franco seemingly fell to his death. However, it was later discovered that he had faked his death.
When Franco reappeared in 2011, he followed Sam and Jason to Hawaii during their honeymoon. He drugged them and made it appear that he raped Sam as Jason was watching on a monitor. Jason managed to confront Franco and shot him, again seemingly killing him.
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After Franco’s supposed death, it was revealed that he and Jason were supposedly fraternal twins. As General Hospital viewers know, this was later changed when Billy Miller was written to be Andrew Cain, Jason’s actual twin.
When Franco reappeared in 2013, it was with Roger Howarth in the role. Howarth has played Franco since then, and the storyline has taken numerous twists and turns over the years to try to redeem the character.
As viewers know, Franco is now living with Drew’s memories and slept with Kim despite being married to Elizabeth. James Franco’s version of Franco Baldwin might be years in the past, but the events of his reign of terror in Port Charles are still referenced often.
As The Inquisitr noted earlier, the actor is now facing new allegations of sexual misconduct. This is prompting some fans to look back on his time on General Hospital and revisit the wild storylines he embraced during those numerous stints on the soap.