Nearly four years after the Los Angeles Times published accounts from five women accusing James Franco of sexual exploitation, the actor is finally speaking out.
Franco is accused of starting up relationships with several of his students while they were enrolled in his acting school and while Franco served as their instructor. One student claimed the 127 Hours star "would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts.” Another said Franco deliberately removed safety measures typically used in the film industry to protect actors during sex scenes.
The filmmaker has also been the subject of criticism from '80s icon Ally Sheedy, Cougar Town actress Busy Philipps, and an ex-girlfriend named Violet Paley who have all accused Franco of various forms of inappropriate behavior and even a forced sexual act.
While Franco has long remained quiet on the subject of these accusations except to issue denials through his legal team, he did settle a class-action lawsuit brought by two of his former students, agreeing this past June to pay out more than $2.2 million in damages.
Now it seems the beleaguered actor is done hiding. Last week, Franco appeared on “The Jess Cagle Podcast" to discuss his legal battles and disclose longstanding struggles with alcoholism and sexual addiction.
“In 2018, there were some complaints about me and an article about me,” explained Franco. “And at that moment I just thought, ‘I’m gonna be quiet. I’m gonna pause.’ [It] did not seem like the right time to say anything. There were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen.”
Franco went on to tell Cagle that he did indeed sleep with students at his acting school, even teaching a masterclass called ‘Sex Scenes’ that he now concedes was poorly named. “Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students and that was wrong,” said Franco. He then tried to stress his good intentions, saying, “…It’s not why I started the school and I didn’t — I wasn’t the person that selected the people to be in the class. So it wasn’t a part of my master plan.”
The wide-ranging interview covered a variety of subjects including Franco’s treatment for substance abuse and how Franco felt about his former friend and collaborator, Seth Rogen, saying he no longer wanted to partner up with Franco on film projects. (For the record, Franco agrees that no one, including Rogen, should have to answer for Franco’s actions and he says he understands those who have chosen to take a step back.)
But for Franco’s victims, these admissions are too little, too late. Reps for law firms representing Franco’s former students told TMZ, “In addition to being blind about power dynamics, Franco is completely insensitive to, and still apparently does not care about, the immense pain and suffering he put his victims through with this sham of an acting school.”