In 2018, when James Franco was accused of sexual misconduct by five women, four of whom were students at his acting school, the actor didn’t respond very well. He’s speaking out now, nearly four years later.
Franco revealed in a new interview with SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle this week that he consented to the interview to clear the air after he was accused of abusing his authority as a teacher in a sexually exploitative manner in a Los Angeles Times article. On Late Night with Stephen Colbert at the time, Franco addressed some of the charges, claiming that some of them were “not accurate,” before expressing support for “people coming out and being able to have a voice” amid the #MeToo movement.
Franco was also sued by two of the women.
He told Cagle when he was asked why he decided to speak out now,
“Well, 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 pause. Did not seem like the right time to say anything. There were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen. There’s a writer, Damon Young, and he talked about, when something like this happens, 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, get it done. But what that doesn’t do is allow you to do the work and to look at what was underneath”.
“Whatever you did, even if it was a gaffe or you said something wrong or whatever, 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, my recovery background to kind of start examining this and changing who I was.”
According to the allegations, the ladies accused Franco of using his Sex Scenes workshop to “produce a continual supply of young women to objectify and exploit,” according to the allegations.
“The stupidest thing I did, or one of the stupidest things I did at the school was I called one of my classes, a masterclass ‘Sex Scenes.’ It was not about sex scenes. I was not teaching people how to do sex scenes or intimate scenes or anything of that nature. It was a provocative title. It should have been called Contemporary Romance or something like that. It was a class where they did scenes about whatever their romance is, you know, what they go through as young people. So meeting people on, you know, dating apps or breakups, or, you know, just a bad date, stuff like that. So that’s what was being done in that class. It was not sex scenes.”
Franco acknowledged having sex with several of his students when Cagle explicitly asked about the lawsuit, which claimed Franco’s class was just “a pipeline of young women who would be subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education.”
“Look, I’ll admit I did sleep with students. I didn’t sleep with anybody in that particular class. But, over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong. It’s not why I started the school and I wasn’t the person that selected the people to be in the class. So it wasn’t a master plan on my part. But yes, there were certain instances where, you know what I was in a consensual thing with, with a student, and I shouldn’t have been.”
The actor was also questioned about the “power imbalance” between students and teachers, particularly for a well-known teacher like Franco. He said,
“At the time, I was not clearheaded, as I’ve said. So I guess it just comes down to my criteria, which was like, ‘If this is consensual, like, I think it’s cool. We’re all adults.”