By Dana Rose Falcone
Updated May 07, 2015 at 03:10 PM EDT

Before James Franco took on acting, producing, directing, writing, and teaching college courses, he worked the drive-thru at a California McDonald’s.

“I wore a purple visor and purple polo shirt and took orders over a headset,” Franco writes in a Washington Post essay. “I refrained from reading on the job, but soon started putting on fake accents with the customers to practice for my scenes in acting class.”

Franco explains he took the job after dropping out of UCLA to pursue acting, and some people enjoyed the accents more than others. “People actually found them persuasive,” Franco writes. “I was asked to give Italian lessons to a cute young woman who thought I was from Pisa; of course I couldn’t follow up as I did not speak Italian… And I went on several dates as a thick-tongued kid from Bed-Stuy.”

The Interview star admits he gave up his one year of vegetarianism after beginning work at the fast food restaurant, and reveals that everyone ate out of the fry hopper. Franco received a promotion to work on front counter duty during the day after one month and says he was treated “fairly well” while working at McDonald’s.

“When I needed McDonald’s, McDonald’s was there for me,” Franco writes. “When no one else was.”