James Franco's 'Spring Breakers' Character Was Inspired by This Underground Rapper

James Franco's 'Spring Breakers' Character Was Inspired by This Underground Rapper

Mar 16, 2013

A lot has already been written about Spring Breakers, and most of it has been about James Franco. With little story or character to actually invest in, Spring Breakers is more like an experience -- a freaky, pop-fueled assault on your senses -- than it is an actual movie. But almost everyone who sees it agrees that Franco's character Alien absolutely steals scenes with ferociousness, barreling his gangsta-rapper routine straight into your brain to the point where you hear his voice stalking you for days after watching the film. For a couple of artists (Franco and Spring Breakers writer-director Harmony Korine) who like their work to be experienced and not just watched, it's hard not to assume they wanted us all to walk away whispering "Spring Breaaaaak. Spring Break Foreeeevvver" over and over until it shattered the barriers that typically dictate what we like or don't like about a movie.

Franco's Alien has become so popular that multiple stories (and a For Your Consideration poster) already exist championing the performance for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and it won't be long before this fictional rapper who represents our anger and greed and thirst for control unironically ends up plastered on the dorm room walls of college students all across the country. What you might not know about Alien, though, is that Franco actually based him off a very real underground rapper named Dangeruss, who just like his fictional counterpart is a dreadlock-wearin' badass who boasts about his gangsta lifestyle with thuggish enthusiasm.

Dangeruss was featured briefly in Spring Breakers as part of Alien's entourage in the outdoor concert scene (see a shot of the two above) that introduces the character, and Franco spent enough time with the rapper on and off set that he actually directed one of Dangeruss' music videos, titled "Hangin with da Dopeboy," which claims to be compiled of footage shot by Franco. 

Note: These music videos are NSFW

So who is Dangeruss? Like Alien, he's a rapper from Florida who grew up in a dysfunctional home with no father and an absent mother. Until Spring Breakers Dangeruss was just another small-time aspiring rapper with minor achievements, but when one of his music videos for a track titled "My Fork" went semi-viral, it came to the attention of Harmony Korine, who decided to use the rapper in his movie. 

Dangeruss had never heard of Korine, though he told Complex that the movie Kids "used to be my sh*t when I was in middle school," realizing years later that Korine was the guy who wrote it. Korine is now also the one responsible for shining a nationwide spotlight on this previously unknown rapper, even if most of the attention is on the actor who plays him. 

Eventually that'll change. Franco will continue to gain Oscar buzz, and Dangeruss will probably begin headlining major shows in the very same spring break spots the film was shot, creating this weird sort of brilliant vortex where art imitates life and then life imitates that art right back. 

But something tells us that was the point all along. 


Follow along on Twitter @ErikDavis and @Moviesdotcom.


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