After appearing at the Golden Globes sporting a "Time's Up" pin Sunday, James Franco has found himself in the middle of a series of #TimesUp sexual misconduct allegations. The embattled actor was forced to address some of the accusations on Tuesday, which he says are "not accurate," and things got, well, really awkward. Now, more allegations are being leveled at Franco — and they might spell major trouble for the 39-year-old star.
On Sunday, two actresses took to Twitter to slam Franco for what they allege is his #TimesUp hypocrisy. "Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes," wrote filmmaker and actress Sarah Tither-Kaplan, "remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn’t exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times up on that!"
"Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco," wrote actress Violet Paley. "Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis & that other time you told my friend to come to your hotel when she was 17? After you had already been caught doing that to a different 17 year old?"
'80s star Ally Sheedy, who has worked with Franco in the past, added a cryptic tweet that she eventually deleted: "James Franco just won. Please never ask me why I left the film/tv business."
Franco addressed the allegations on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Tuesday night and made his own rather vague statements. "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," he said. "If I have done something wrong, I will fix it — I have to," he added. "The point is to listen. I am here to listen and learn and change perspective where it’s off. I’m completely willing and want to."
On Thursday, Los Angeles Times' Daniel Miller and Amy Kaufman detailed more allegations against the actor accusing him, among other things, of using his acting school, Studio 4, to sexually exploit women. The Times interviewed five women, four of whom were students at his school and one of whom describes him as her former mentor, who all accused him of "inappropriate or sexually exploitative" behavior.
"I feel there was an abuse of power, and there was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women, and a culture of women being replaceable," his first accuser, Tither-Kaplan, told the Times. Perhaps the most explosive allegation in the report, leveled by Tither-Kaplan and another actress, revolved around a group sex scene filmed in 2015. The Times reports:
In 2015, Franco asked Tither-Kaplan to play a prostitute in another of his projects, the feature film “The Long Home,” with a cast that included him, Josh Hutcherson, Courtney Love and Timothy Hutton.
The part required her to perform nude, and she agreed because she considered it a big break. In fact, she signed nudity agreements for each of the films she made with Franco.
But one day on set in May 2015, a producer approached her and other women to ask if they wanted to film a “bonus scene” of an orgy. In it, Tither-Kaplan appeared fully nude in the background, she said. A handful of other women were selected to appear with Franco, who simulated performing oral sex on each of them, Tither-Kaplan said. But in each case, she said he removed a clear plastic guard that covered their vaginas — and continued to simulate the sex act with no protection.
Then, Tither-Kaplan said, she and her female co-stars were asked to appear topless in an unscripted scene and dance around Franco while wearing animal skulls atop their heads. One actress who balked was sent home the next day, Tither-Kaplan said.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” she said.
Another actress who participated in the shoots confirmed Tither-Kaplan’s account of the unscripted sequence that led to the departure of an actress. She also confirmed the removal of the plastic guards.
Another student of Franco's, Hilary Dusome, 33, said she initially found him to have a "really generous spirit" in helping aspiring, but that changed when he selecting her and some other actresses to appear in one of his "art films." Natalie Chmiel, confirmed Dusome's account.
"Both women described what they considered to be an unprofessional and hostile shoot at a strip club," the Times reports. "Midway through filming, Dusome said Franco approached the actresses — who wore masks and lingerie — and asked, 'So, who wants to take your shirt off?' When no actresses volunteered, Franco stormed off, Dusome recalled."
Another student says that one of the projects she appeared topless in for the Sex Scenes class at the school ended up on at least one pornography site after being uploaded to Vimeo, a result over which the school says they had no control.
Citing his client's statement to Colbert, Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, disputed all of the allegations but told the Times that school officials will be investigating the claims.
Franco was the lead teacher at Studio 4, which he launched in North Hollywood, California in 2014. One the school's perks is the promise that Franco would try to "funnel promising talent into the actor's own projects." Many of the students had positive things to say about the school and their experiences with Franco.