In explaining why he's played so many gay characters, actor-director James Franco said that a lot of his heroes just happen to have been gay.

Franco's latest film, Sal, looks at the life and murder of Sal Mineo, considered the first major Hollywood actor to come out gay.

(Related: James Franco's Sal looks at last day in the life of openly gay star Sal Mineo.)

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Franco was asked about his “fascination” with gay characters.

“It's not like it's my mission to tell the stories of as many gay men as possible, although in some cases, I think it is the point,” Franco said. “In Milk, the point is to show one of the great fighters for equal rights for the gay community, so I was happy to do that. With characters like Allen Ginsberg [in Howl], my love for him started with his work when I was a teenager. So his sexuality is secondary to me. It's an important aspect of who he was and his character, but it wasn't like, 'Yes, I want to play another gay role,' it was more, 'Yes, I'd love to play another one of my heroes.'”

He added: “But I feel like because I've done more gay characters, gay scenes, or gay projects than most straight actors, people see it as some sort of mission. It's more of a case-by-case basis, and just trying to capture figures that I love. I guess that a lot of the figures that I love were gay.”