James Franco credits Kirsten Dunst with helping save his life.

The 32-year-old actor was advised by his 'Spider-Man 3' co-star to volunteer for charity Art of Elysium - with helps children serious medical conditions - at a time in his life when he wanted to assist others but was unsure what to do.

He recalled: "Kirsten said, 'You know I volunteer with this group called Art of Elysium' and said to come help out.

"It was funny because I was seeing a therapist at the time, and I told him I just wanted to find a place where I could give back. I didn't know what I could give. All I did was act and I didn't want to teach that.

"I went and started volunteering at the hospital. Anyways, the experience really saved my life."

The '127' hours actor picked up the Spirit of Elysium awards from the charity on Saturday (15.01.11) at the Art of Elysium Heaven Gala in Los Angeles and also told the star-studded crowd of charity helpers and supporters - including Gerard Butler, Jake Gyllenhaal, Nicole Richie, Rachel Bilson and Elijah Wood - of how Kirsten rejected a play he had written with one of the children the organisation helps.

He said: "I met my friend David and we wrote a play together for the holiday party, it was an amazing play. And my dear friend Kirsten Dunst turned it down and we ended up doing something about the Grinch."