James Franco has admitted to sleeping with students of an acting school he previously managed. He claims he battled a s** addiction and has been working to change his behavior in recent years.
The Oscar-nominated actor has been accused of sexual misconduct on numerous occasions since 2018, all of which he has vehemently denied. Later though, he did reach a settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought by two former students who claimed they had been exploited and were the victims of fraud at the now-defunct school.
On an edition of the Jess Cagle Podcast on SiriusXM radio, he discussed the case in detail for the first time.
Franco, 43, admitted that he “did sleep with students, and that was wrong,” while he was a teacher. He said that he did not create the school in order to seduce ladies.
“I suppose at the time, my thinking was if it’s consensual, OK,” adding “At the time I was not clearheaded.”
Franco was nominated for best actor at the Oscars in 2011 for his starring role in 127 Hours, directed by Danny Boyle, and is also known for his roles in Pineapple Express and the Spider-Man films.
The actor said he had remained quiet over the allegations relating to his school for years because “there were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen”.
In January 2018, five women told the Los Angeles Times that Franco had acted in an inappropriate way toward them, adding to earlier accusations on social media.
Later, in October 2019, two women filed a civil suit against the “Pineapple Express” star, accusing him of exploiting aspiring actors at his now-defunct school and duping young women into shooting explicit sex scenes.
The plaintiffs, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, sought to represent a class of more than 100 former female students. They alleged the school set out to “create a steady stream of young women to objectify and exploit,” as well as “circumvent California’s ‘pay for play’ regulations,” which prohibit making actors pay for auditions. They told NPR in 2019 that they were promised that as paying students, they would be offered opportunities to audition for roles in Franco’s projects.
Part of the complaint involved a class called S** Scenes, which required students to audition and pay an extra $750. Tither-Kaplan said she assumed the class would teach her how to navigate love scenes professionally, but that she found its goal to be more for students to “get unclothed and do *** scenes and not complain and push the envelope.”
When the allegations first surfaced, Franco said they were “not accurate”.
But payments were eventually made to Ms Tither-Kaplan and Ms Gaal, as well as other students who filed complaints.
Franco said he developed a s** addiction after he became sober from an alcohol addiction he developed at a young age. “It’s such a powerful drug,” he said. “I got hooked on it for 20 more years. The insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time.”
Cagle pushed back, asking Franco how he could not have been aware of the power imbalance between students and their teacher, a very famous actor.
“I suppose at the time my thinking was if it’s consensual, OK,” Franco said. “Of course I knew, you know, talking to other people, other teachers or whatever, like, yeah, it’s probably not a cool thing. At the time I was not clear-headed… so I guess it just comes down to, my criteria was, like, if this is consensual I think it’s cool, we’re all adults.”
Franco also characterized the s** scenes class as provocatively titled, saying it was about dating and relationships and should have been called something more along the lines of “contemporary romance.”
In 2014, Franco admitted to having flirted with a 17-year-old girl on Instagram and offered to rent a hotel room so the two could meet, after the girl posted photos of their exchange online.