James Franco’s ‘Pineapple Express’ Look Came From an On-Set Injury

From the late 2000s to the early 2010s, Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow had the comedy world on lock. The two collaborated on a string of movies that became massive box-office hits, and their sensibilities remain influential on how writers and actors tell jokes on screen. One film that has maintained a legacy of fans long after its release is Pineapple Express, starring Rogen and James Franco. The movie didn’t dominate the culture or receive rave reviews in the same way that Superbad did, but it has developed a cult following that still stands today. 

Around the 10th anniversary of the 2008 stoner comedy, Rogen, who also co-wrote the film, revealed some behind-the-scenes facts, including how an accident during shooting affected Franco’s appearance.  

James Franco’s role in ‘Pineapple Express’ was nearly very different 

James Franco Pineapple Express injury accident
‘Pineapple Express’ co-stars Seth Rogen and James Franco in August 2008 | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

In Pineapple Express, James Franco plays Saul Silver, a neighborhood drug dealer with a passion for civil engineering. After his friend Dale Denton (Rogen) witnesses a murder, the two engage in a hijinks-laden run for their lives. 

Both actors earned praise for their roles, with Franco being nominated for a Golden Globe. But the original plan was for Rogen to play Saul and Franco to play Dale. They switched characters after deciding they wanted to subvert traditional archetypes rather than play into them. 

“We started to think, ‘Maybe that’s a little expected,’ and then I remember we met with Franco about it for the first time, and he was like, ‘I kinda wanna play the other guy,'” Rogen said in a GQ video recapping his career. “We were like, ‘You know what? That is probably more interesting.’ It gives me a chance to have a bigger role, which is fantastic, and it gave him a chance to do something totally unexpected.”

James Franco’s wardrobe in ‘Pineapple Express’ hid an on-set injury

Seth Rogen took to Twitter to talk about the making of Pineapple Express around its tenth anniversary.

One of the tidbits he shared related to one of Saul’s most distinctive fashion choices. He wears a gray headband throughout the movie’s third act, and though the character slams into a tree while running from hitmen, Franco needed the headband to hide stitches after he inadvertently went Method for the scene. 

“The reason Saul wears a headband in #PineappleExpress is the result of another injury. There’s a shot (that’s in the movie) when we are running through the woods, Franco hits his head on a tree. He actually hit his head on a screw that was holding a pad in place and got stitches,” Rogen explained on Twitter

Franco wasn’t the only actor who sustained on-set injuries

Making Pineapple Express took a bigger physical toll than expected. 

The fight scene at Red’s (Danny McBride) house is one of the best scenes in the movie. It was also highly improvised, which led to various injuries during filming. Rogen broke his finger, and Franco cracked McBride’s skull by hitting him with a bong. 

McBride’s turn in Pineapple Express was another on-the-fly revision. Red was supposed to die the first time he was shot but somehow survived multiple bullet wounds and a car explosion because he was so hilarious that Rogen and screenwriter Evan Goldberg rewrote the movie to keep him around. 

There were plans to make a Pineapple Express sequel, but Sony rejected the idea due to budget concerns. Leaked emails between Apatow and former Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal revealed early conversations about making Pineapple Express 2 happen, but the studio refused Apatow’s $50 million budget demand. 

A hilarious trailer for a sequel came out in 2013, but unfortunately, it was an April Fool’s prank to promote This Is the End

RELATED: ‘Pineapple Express’ Alternate Ending Gave Seth Rogan’s Dale and James Franco’s Saul a Tragic Sendoff