Hollywood star James Franco has said he was thanked by ex-gay activist Michael Glatze for his portrayal of him on film.

The film ‘I am Michael’ will portray the life of Michael Glatze, who as a young man edited Young Gay America magazine, before in later life renouncing homosexuality and marrying a woman.

James Franco set to star in the lead role, and Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto, who came out as gay in 2011, has signed on to the film to play Glatze’s ex-boyfriend, while Emma Roberts will star as his female ‘love’ interest. The independent film is directed and co-written by Justin Kelly and produced by Gus Van Sant.

Franco said he met Glatze at the premier of the upcoming film ‘I am Michael’ at the Sundance Film Festival.

He said: “I haven’t had that many conversations with him,” admitted James at the film’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

“I met him in person for the first time here at the festival. He made a point to come up to me and thank me, and he said he loved the movie. I think it was very healing for him.”

He also addressed balancing the wishes of Glatze, with the film’s attempts to give a rounded portrayal of real events.

“We did have Michael’s permission and his relationship to this material is different than any of the real life people I have portrayed. Where we start in Michael’s life in the movie, is far from where he is right now,”he went on.

“So in a way, we had to show to him we were going to have a very even-handed, non-judgemental approach, but we also had to say to ourselves, ‘We’re not telling this story just to make Michael happy, we’re telling the story to get both sides’. The best we could do was say to him was, ‘We have good intentions. We’re not going to crucify or judge you but we also need to tell the story from the other side as well as the side you’re on now’.”

The film was described as a “risk” by co-star Charlie Carver, who said: “It’s risky. It’s rare that you tell and give attention to something like conversion therapy, so I think it’s pretty audacious that this was made,” he said.

“I think there’s a responsibility to tell the truth but also to not sensationalise things to an effect. It’s a very sensitive subject,” he added.

Franco recently released a photo of himself and Quinto kissing, and previously it was announced that James Franco, Zachary Quinto and Charlie Carver will appear in a threesome scene the film.