Things are not looking good for James Franco. In light of his recent Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Awards wins, the Hollywood leading man has been receiving allegations of sexually exploitative behaviour.
Five women have come forward with their testimonies – four of whom were former students from the film school Franco founded. Franco attorney Michael Plonsker has since denied the women’s allegations.
Both Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Violet Paley called Franco a hypocrite for wearing a #TimesUp pin to the Golden Globes ceremony earlier on Monday (8th January). It “was like a slap in my face,” Tither-Kaplan told The Los Angeles Times. Tither-Kaplan was a former student at Franco’s Studio 4 school in North Hollywood.
The former pupil shared that she was asked cast as a prostitute and was required to take part in a nude orgy “bonus” scene with Franco and other women in his 2015 film, “The Long Home”. During that incident, the actor had apparently removed a clear plastic guard that covered their vaginas – leaving them without protection. They were also asked to perform topless and dance around Franco in another unscripted scene.
Aspiring screenwriter Violet Paley told the Los Angeles Times that when they were in a romantic relationship in 2016, Franco had pressured her to perform oral sex inside a vehicle. “I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out. I got really nervous, and I said, ‘Can we do this later?’ He was kind of nudging my head down, and I just didn’t want him to hate me, so I did it,” she recalled.
Former students from Playhouse West – Hilary Dusome, Natalie Chmiel, and Katie Ryan – have also come forward with their personal #MeToo accounts. Dusome shared, “I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realised it was because I have nice (breasts), it was pretty clear that was not the case. 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.”
Dusome added that Franco once approached the group of actresses midway filming and asked, “So, who wants to take your shirt off?” When no one volunteered, the 39-year-old movie star stormed off, according to fellow alumna Chmiel.
Similarly, Ms Ryan claim that enrolling in Franco’s classes came with a price. “(He) would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts,” she told the publication.
In addition to the five aforementioned ladies, Ally Sheedy also tweeted a vague message, saying, “James Franco just won. Please never ever ask me why I left the film/TV business.” The tweet has been deleted.
Since the controversy, Franco has decided to step back from the spotlight. “He’s in a really bad place, so bad that he changed his phone number. His close friends are trying to be there for him but it’s been hard – he’s only talking to a select group of people. For now, he’s just hiding out,” a source told People Magazine.