Women’s Accusations Follow James Franco After Golden Globes
Posted January 11, 2018 4:30 p.m. EST
For actor and filmmaker James Franco, Sunday’s Golden Globes victory for his performance in “The Disaster Artist” was meant to propel him into Hollywood’s annual awards season with a shot at an Oscar nomination this month. But questions about Franco’s behavior with women are following him into the spotlight.
Since Sunday, several women have come forward to say that Franco sexually exploited them or behaved inappropriately. Some of these women discussed their experiences with Franco in social media posts they shared during and after the Golden Globes broadcast, and others spoke to The Los Angeles Times for an article published Thursday.
Franco has continued to appear at awards ceremonies (like the National Board of Review gala Tuesday) and on television talk shows, awkwardly explaining that he supports the rights of women to call out acts of sexual misconduct while asserting that his accusers have made inaccurate claims about him.
Now some of his accusers say Franco is being insincere in his public appearances, and they fear that the pomp and circumstance of the Hollywood awards circuit will ultimately shield him from having to face any consequences for what they said he did.
Violet Paley, one of the women who accused Franco of misconduct, said Thursday in a telephone interview that his public statements rang hollow and seemed self-serving.
“I’m really disappointed,” Paley said. “I’m getting harassed by his fans for speaking out, like this is something I wanted.”
She added, “He had months of opportunity to make it right, and he didn’t. I’m getting death threats. He’s just going on, talking about his movie.”
During the Golden Globes, Paley was one of several women who took offense at the fact that Franco was wearing a pin supporting Time’s Up, an initiative founded by powerful women in the entertainment industry to fight workplace sexual harassment.
Paley, 23, has said she was 21 when she began a romantic relationship with Franco, during which she said he coerced her to perform oral sex on him. In a tweet posted Sunday, she wrote, “Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco,” adding further details of her accusation.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan, another woman who criticized Franco that night, wrote in a Twitter post directed at him, “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?”
Tither-Kaplan later told The LA Times that she felt pressured to appear nude in an orgy scene in Franco’s yet unreleased film “The Long Home,” and that other actresses who appeared in the scene wore plastic guards covering their vaginas that Franco removed before simulating sex acts with them.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” Tither-Kaplan told The LA Times.
Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, told The LA Times that he disputed all of the women’s allegations in the article. Contacted by The New York Times, representatives for the actor pointed to Franco’s comments in late-night television interviews in which he said the women’s tweets were inaccurate but he supported their right to speak out.
The actress Ally Sheedy, who appeared in a 2014 off-Broadway production of “The Long Shrift” that Franco directed, wrote in a Twitter post Sunday, “James Franco just won. Please never ask me why I left the film/tv business.”
Sheedy later deleted the Twitter post. She did not reply to a request for comment from The New York Times.
Franco, 39, has acted widely in films and TV shows, including “Freaks and Geeks,” “Pineapple Express,” “Spring Breakers” and “127 Hours,” which earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. He stars in the HBO drama “The Deuce,” playing dual roles as twin brothers in 1970s New York.
In a statement, David Simon, a co-creator of “The Deuce,” said that after checking with fellow producers, “we have no complainant or complaint or any awareness of any incident of concern involving Mr. Franco. Nor has HBO been approached with any complaint. In our experience, he was entirely professional as an actor, director and producer.”
He is also the director of “The Disaster Artist,” as well as a prolific writer, stage performer and visual artist, and he ran a film and acting school called Studio 4 that closed last fall.
In 2014, Franco acknowledged that he had tried to pick up a 17-year-old girl on social media after images of their Instagram messages were circulated online.
At that time, Mr. Franco said in an interview with Howard Stern, “They make it out like I’m pursuing young women. I’m not going to high schools looking for dates. I’m leaving my work and they’re coming there. So, I’m seeing attractive women.”
Paley said she reached out to Franco in October after The New York Times published a report revealing that the film producer Harvey Weinstein had paid settlements to several women who accused him of sexual harassment.
Paley said she called on Franco then to apologize to her and to other women who said he mistreated them. She said she did not receive an apology until several weeks later, when journalists from BuzzFeed began making inquiries about Franco’s past behavior.
In a Tuesday appearance on CBS’ “The Late Show,” Franco told host Stephen Colbert, “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.”
Franco added, “If there’s restitution to be made, I will make it. I’m here to listen and learn and change my perspective where it’s off.”
Appearing Wednesday on NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” Franco said, “I have my own side of this story, but I believe in these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say just because I believe in it that much.”
He added, “And if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to try and actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.”
The New York Times canceled a public TimesTalks interview with Franco, scheduled for Wednesday. “The event was intended to be a discussion of the making of the film ‘The Disaster Artist,'” The Times said in a statement. “Given the controversy surrounding recent allegations, we’re no longer comfortable proceeding in that vein.”