James Franco has teamed up with a gay art-porn director to produce and star in an indie film which re-imagines footage lost from the 1980 film Cruising which starred Al Pacino.

Franco, who is straight but has played several gay characters, has teamed up with Travis Matthews, who directed and stars in the film James Franco’s Cruising alongside him.

Matthews, who got Franco’s attention through media coverage of his gay art porn/drama “I Want Your Love”, told IndieWire that Franco: “Knew he wanted real gay sex in [the film]”

“We talked about his interest in the film and his interest more broadly in so many gay-themed stories and visionairies. He’s worked with so many in front of and behind the cameras over the years.”

Cruising starred Al Pacino as an undercover police officer who infiltrates the gay S&M scene in New York in order to investigate several murders. The director, William Friedkin, became embroiled in a ratings battle, but was forced to remove 40 minutes of footage from the film in order to reduce the rating from X to R.

The removed footage was later reported to have been lost by Warner Brothers, and has become the project of Franco and Matthews, who want to recreate the scenes. The pair originally wanted to update the films, but reportedly could not get the rights.

The pair hope to release the film in early 2013, but Franco’s next project will be another first – an adaptation of the William Faulkner classic, As I Lay Dying, for which the rights have never previously been obtained by a director.

Franco told Elle magazine that co-star Sean Penn wanted the Harvey Milk biopic Milk to include more gay sex scenes, and talked frankly about Harvey Milk’s death, saying: “I think people are dead because he died too soon.”

He also caused a stir when he told an Entertainment Weekly interviewer: “You know what, maybe I’m just gay.”