James Franco thinks being serious is ''draining''.

The 34-year-old actor - who is also an accomplished author, artist and university lecturer - admits trying to impress the public is tiring and he has now decided to take on projects for himself, despite what others may think.

When asked who the real James Franco is, he replied: ''I don't think I'm one or the other. I love the academic world but I also like being silly. When a serious image becomes a part of your life, it was be draining.

''I guess it comes from wanting people to like you. I don't know [if I'm liked]. I've been involved in projects that people enjoyed, and I'm grateful. But now I feel free to do projects for more artistic reasons.''

One of his personal interests is gay culture, which he has explored through several film roles - including Gus Van Sant's 'Milk' - and his own experimental visions.

However, James insists he doesn't pick the parts deliberately and he instead tries to put across a bigger message which everyone can relate to.

Referring to his fascination with the society, he told Britain's Marie Claire magazine: ''In some cases it's accidental. I didn't do 'Milk' to play a gay character - it was a great film by my favourite film-maker.

''The equality message doesn't just apply to gay culture, it applies to everyone. I try to highlight dynamics, engaging with them in a way that helps people look at them differently.''