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Though James Franco lost out to Colin Firth for Best Actor at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Friday, he got to give a different kind of acceptance speech at the black tie Art of Elysium charity gala “Heaven” the following evening when he received the “Spirit of Elysium” award.

In front of a crowd that included other Art of Elysium volunteers and supporters like Harvey Weinstein, Topher Grace, Gerard Butler, Nicole Richie, Rachel Bilson, and Elijah Wood, Franco discussed a darker period in his life when he was looking for something beyond movie-making.
Thankfully, his co-star Kirsten Dunst came to the rescue, signing him up for the non-profit that encourages actors, artists, and musicians to dedicate their time to children battling serious medical conditions.

Friends with benefits
“I was in a movie called Spiderman 3 and working with Kirsten Dunst and she said, ‘you know I volunteer with this group called Art of Elysium’ and she said come help out.”

A fortuitous coincidence
“”It was funny because I was seeing a therapist at the time,  I saw him for like a month, and I told him I just wanted to find a place where I could give back. I didn’t know what I could give. All I did was act and I didn’t want to teach that.  And so then Kristen said that there was this organization that worked with artists to make good of doing with they do and it was a place where they can help someone.”

Even he gets rejected
“”I went and started volunteering at the hospital and met my friend David [one of the children the charity helps] . We wrote a play together for the holiday party, it was an amazing play. And my dear friend Kirsten Dunst turned it down and we ended up doing something about the Grinch. But anyways, [the experience] really saved my life.”

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