James Franco Accused Of Sexual Misconduct By Former Acting Students

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images.
Update: A report in the LA Times details the allegations of five women who have accused the actor of sexually exploitative behaviour that includes pressuring them to participate in nude scenes, removing the plastic guards covering actresses' vaginas during simulated oral sex, and pressuring one woman to perform a sex act in her car. Through his attorney, Franco has denied the allegations, and HBO says there have been no complaints against Franco on The Deuce, on which he stars and is executive producer.
Original story follows.
The entire audience was painted black at the 75th Golden Globes in observance of Time's Up, a movement started by the women of Hollywood in an effort to end sexual harassment and assault. The movement is a response to #MeToo and the wave of women coming forward with accusations in all industries following the initial allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. In addition to the dress code, many attendees wore Time's Up pins to further cement their support, but in the case of James Franco, that ended up causing some backlash.
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"Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco," wrote actress Violet Paley on Twitter. "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?"
Paley is referring to screenshots that surfaced in 2014 that appear to show the actor trying to get a 17-year-old girl to come to his apartment. "I’m embarrassed," he later admitted on Live With Kelly and Michael. "I guess I’m just a model about how social media’s tricky. It’s a way people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned is you don’t know who’s on the other end. I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson."
Paley wasn't the only person to take to Twitter following Franco's appearance at the Golden Globes. Actress Ally Sheedy also posted some cryptic and now-deleted tweets expressing scepticism about his Time's Up pin and, following his win for Best Actor in A Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for The Disaster Artist, told people to "never ask me why I left the film/TV business."
On Tuesday night, after all of this unfolded, Franco appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert where the host asked him directly about the allegations. In regards to Sheedy, he says he doesn't know what the tweets were about.
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"I directed her in a play off-Broadway," he told Colbert. "I had nothing but a great time with her, total respect for her. I have no idea why she was upset. She took the tweet down. I don’t know. I can’t speak for her. I don’t know."
With respect to the other allegations, however, things got a little trickier.
"Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done," he continued. "I have to do that to maintain my wellbeing. I do it whenever I know that there’s something wrong or needs to be changed...The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out...because they didn’t have a voice for so long. I don’t want to shut them down in any way. It’s, I think, a good thing and I support it."
In response to his comments, Paley told Refinery29 that she stands by everything she said.
If anything, this response shows that Franco hasn't quite reconciled with himself what these allegations mean. It's hard to believe him when he says he supports women coming forward, but that the ones coming forward about him are incorrect. He talks the talk, but we can only hope he means it when he says he'll walk the walk as well.
"I can’t live if there’s restitution to be made," he added. "If I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to. I mean, I think that’s how that works. I don’t know what else to do."
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The first step would be not dismissing the allegations as "not accurate". There's no point saying you're going to listen if you're not open to the fact that you might hear some uncomfortable things.
"I’m here to listen and learn and change my perspective where it’s off," he concluded. "I’m completely willing and want to." Then let's start right now.
Watch the full exchange below:
Refinery29 has reached out to both Franco and Sheedy for comment.
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.
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