Sean Penn, James Franco

Barry King/WireImage.com, Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage.com

Is James Franco stripping down for director Gus Van Sant?

Franco costars as Scott Smith in Milk, Van Sant’s film based on the life of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), the pioneering gay-rights activist and politician who was assassinated in 1977 after being elected a San Francisco city supervisor. Smith was Milk’s campaign manager and also one of his lovers.

Sources tell me that Franco recently shot a scene in which he doffs his clothes to go skinny-dipping in a pool. However, my sources report there are no full-monty shots.

Disappointing, yes, but all is not lost. “He has the nicest ass,” a source cooed.

No word yet if the flick will include a sex scene or two between Penn and Franco, but as another source put it, “These were gay men in the '70s.”

‘Nuff said.

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