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- The Los Angeles Times published a report detailing five accusations of “inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior” involving actor and filmmaker James Franco.
- The accusations started surfacing on Twitter during the Golden Globes ceremony on Sunday night, after Franco accepted his award while wearing a Time’s Up pin.
- Several women, most his acting students, claim that Franco put them in uncomfortable situations where they felt they had to appear nude.
- Franco denies the accusations.
After Franco won a Golden Globe award for his performance in “The Disaster Artist” on Sunday night, he was criticized on social media for showing solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct by wearing a Time’s Up pin. Franco was also accused of sexual misconduct himself by several women on Twitter.
Franco, 39, got his start in the industry on the cult hit “Freaks and Geeks,” and has starred in a variety of high-profile films in varying genres, from the original “Spider-man” franchise opposite Tobey Maguire to “Milk,” “Pineapple Express,” and “127 Hours,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar in the best actor category.
Franco denied the various allegations made against him on Twitter in an interview with Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show” Tuesday night, generally calling the claims “not accurate.” When the LA Times reached out to Franco’s lawyer for comment on its story, the publication was directed to his comments to Colbert.
“The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So, I don’t want to shut them down in any way. It’s a good thing and I support it,” Franco said.
Two women told the LA Times that when Franco was their teacher at Playhouse West in North Hollywood, he put them in “uncomfortable” situations that went beyond what’s appropriate in a teacher-student relationship.
Franco taught Hilary Dusome and Natalie Chmiel at Playhouse West in 2012. Dusome told the LA Times that Franco selected her and other women to appear in an “art film.” Chmiel said that Franco told her the footage would be used for a 7 For All Mankind jeans advertisement.
During filming, Dusome and Chmiel said Franco asked the actresses if they wanted to take their tops off. When no actresses volunteered, Dusome and Chmiel said Franco became angry.
“I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realized it was because I have nice [breasts], it was pretty clear that was not the case,” Dusome told the LA Times. “I don’t think he started teaching with bad intentions, but he went down a bad path and damaged a lot of people in the process.”
Franco launched the Studio 4 acting school in 2014, with locations in North Hollywood and New York City. He did not teach most of the classes. The LA Times spoke to over a dozen former students who had a positive experience at Studio 4, which is now closed. But some did not have a good experience.
Studio 4 separated itself from other acting schools by Franco and his production company’s [Rabbit Bandini Productions] promise to cast students, and involve them in Franco’s own films and art projects.
Former student Katie Ryan told the LA Times that Franco “would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts.” For years, Ryan said that she received emails from Franco about auditions for roles as “a prostitute or a hooker.”
Taking advantage of aspiring actresses and filmmakers
Actress Sarah Tither-Kaplan said in a tweet that she had an “exploitative” experience doing nude scenes in two of Franco’s films. The contract she signed only paid $100 per day, she said.
Tither-Kaplan told the LA Times that in 2015, Franco asked her to play a prostitute in his feature film, “The Long Home.” The role required her to appear nude. She signed a contract, and decided it was the best decision for her career.
But Tither-Kaplan told the LA Times that one day on set, in May 2015, a producer approached her and other women to ask if they wanted to appear in an orgy scene. Tither-Kaplan said that she appeared in the background of the scene, and that Franco simulated oral sex on each of the women who appeared with him in the “bonus” scene. Tither-Kaplan alleged that Franco removed the plastic guard that covered her vagina and continued to perform the scene.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” Tither-Kaplan told the LA Times.
Franco’s attorney told the LA Times that “the allegations about the protective guards are not accurate.”
Actress Violet Paley tweeted on Sunday that Franco once “pushed” her head down in a car toward his “exposed penis,” and that she knew “other girls with similar stories.” (Paley also tweeted that Franco apologized to her and “a few other girls” over the phone weeks earlier, and noted that she had a “consensual relationship” with Franco as well).
Speaking to the LA Times, Paley said she met Franco in 2016. She wanted to be a filmmaker, and he offered to give her notes on a screenplay she wrote. They began a romantic relationship but she said that he pressured her into performing oral sex in her car. She said she did it, but was uncomfortable. They continued a consensual sexual relationship after the alleged incident.
Franco’s attorney called Paley’s accusations “not accurate” to the LA Times.
In a series of since-deleted tweets, “Breakfast Club” actress Ally Sheedy wrote during the Golden Globes ceremony, “Why is James Franco allowed in? Said too much.” She later tweeted, “James Franco just won. Please never ever ask me why I left the film/tv business,” after Franco won the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy for “The Disaster Artist.”
When asked about Sheedy’s comments by Seth Meyers on “Late Night” Wednesday, Franco said, “It was so shocking. I don’t know. I guess I’m just letting it be.”