Nearly four years after a series of sexual misconduct allegations made against actor James Franco ground his career to a halt, he broke his silence on the matter to SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle. He blames his ongoing “sex addiction” for reportedly exploiting students under his tutelage in the “Sex Scenes” acting class he ran at the film school he founded. Franco says he’s been recovering from his battle with sex addiction since 2016.
“In 2018 there were some complaints about me and an article about me and at that moment I just thought, I’m gonna be quiet. I’m gonna be, I’m gonna pause. Did not seem like the right time to say anything,” Franco said. “There were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen.”
Those complaints came from five women who said Franco exhibited “sexually inappropriate or exploitative behavior” toward them while under his mentorship.
For example, one of Franco’s accusers, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, said that he asked female students to film or audition topless scenes. In one instance, while shooting a nude orgy scene, she says Franco removed “protective plastic guards covering other actresses’ vaginas while simulating oral sex on them.” Another student confirmed Tither-Kaplan’s account.
Speaking to Cagle, Franco contends that he’s been doing “the work” and that he’s been in recovery for substance abuse and sex addiction.
The natural human instinct is to just make it stop. You just want to get out in front of it and whatever you have to do… apologize, you know, get it done. But what that doesn’t do is allow you to do the work, and to look at what was underneath, like, whatever you did… there’s probably an iceberg underneath that, of behavior, of patterning, of just being blind to yourself that isn’t gonna just be solved overnight. So I’ve just been doing a lot of work. And I guess I’m pretty confident in saying like, four years, you know? And, I was in recovery before for substance abuse. And, there were some issues that I had to deal with that were also related to addiction. And so I’ve really used my recovery background to kind of start examining this and, and changing who I was.
Franco said that he was “completely blind to power dynamics.” However, he allegedly dangled acting roles in front of female students in exchange for sexual advances. Also, there was the time he allegedly tried to lure a 17-year-old female fan to join him in his hotel room. At the time, he said on Live With Kelly And Michael that he “learned his lesson” and tweeted, “I HOPE PARENTS KEEP THEIR TEENS AWAY FROM ME. Thank you.”
But now things are different, insists Franco, who says he feels bad that his brother, Dave Franco, and former collaborator Seth Rogen were left holding the bag when the 2018 allegations came to light.
“I just wanna say, I absolutely love Seth Rogen…. ‘Cause a lot of people come up to me like… I love Seth Rogen. I worked with him for 20 years. We didn’t have one fight for 20 years.”
“We aren’t working together right now and we don’t have any plans to work together,” Franco continued. “Of course, it was hurtful in context but I get it. He had to answer for me because I was silent. He had to answer for me and I don’t want that. And so that’s why it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to talk to you today: I don’t want Seth or my brother or anyone to have to answer for me anymore.”
The actor hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations since 2018, when he appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. He told Colbert, “The things I heard are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out because they didn’t have a voice for so long.”
Earlier this year, Franco settled a lawsuit from Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal for $2,234,000. In the settlement, Franco continued to deny the allegations.