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Sexual harassment and assault

James Franco denies sexual abuse claims to Stephen Colbert in wake of Golden Globes controversy

Franco said that claims made on Twitter after his Golden Globe win were “not accurate” and that he still supports the Time’s Up campaign against sexual harassment and abuse

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 11:37am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 January, 2018, 1:49am

James Franco denied accusations of sexual misconduct made against him in an interview with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night’s edition of Late Show.

Franco was accused of sexual assault by one woman and of pressuring another to do two nude scenes in a film after he won a Golden Globe Award for his film The Disaster Artist on Sunday.

Franco had worn a pin supporting the Hollywood-led Time’s Up movement, which aims to challenge sexual harassment and assault in workplaces across America, while hosting the event.

“I mentioned backstage I wanted to talk to you about this, and if you’re OK talking about it, I wanted to ask you about some criticism you got on Golden Globes night,” Colbert said, before bringing up the pin.

“You got criticised for wearing that,” he said. “Do you know why? And do you have a response, do you have anything you want to say about that criticism?”

“First, I want to say I wore it because I do support it. I was so excited to win, but being in that room that night was incredible. I mean, it was powerful. There were incredible voices, and I support it. I support change” he said.

He then went on to talk about Ally Sheedy’s oblique complaint on Twitter that Franco should not have been “let in” to the awards show. Franco directed her in a stage place, The Long Shrift, in 2014.

“There were some things on Twitter … I haven’t read them. I’ve heard about them,” he said. “OK, first of all, I have no idea what I did to Ally Sheedy.

“I directed her in a play off-Broadway. 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.”

I have no idea what I did to Ally Sheedy.
James Franco

He then went on to address a claim by actress Violet Paley that he sexually assaulted her and tried to lure her 17-year-old friend to his hotel room, and another by Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who said he pressured her into performing in nude scenes.

“The others, look,” Franco continued. “In my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done. I have to do that to maintain my well-being. I do it whenever I know that there is something wrong or needs to be changed, I make it a point to do it.

“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 because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So I don’t want to – I don’t want to, you know, shut them down in any way.”

Colbert asked whether “there can be some sort of reconciliation between people who clearly have different views of things?”

Franco replied: “I mean, like I said – the way I live my life, I can’t live if there’s restitution to be made. I will make it. So 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.

… 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.
James Franco

“I mean, as far as the bigger issues, you know, how we do it. Look, I really don’t have the answers. And I think the point of this whole thing is that we listen.

“You know, there were incredible people talking that night. They had a lot to say. And I’m here to listen and learn and change my perspective where it’s off, and I’m completely willing and want to.”

Franco is due to appear on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Wednesday. A planned Wednesday appearance at The New York TimesTimesTalk event was cancelled on Tuesday after the claims emerged.

The accusations were made almost immediately after Franco picked up his trophy on Sunday, as actress Violet Paley claimed the actor once sexually assaulted her and tried to lure her 17-year-old friend to his hotel room.

“Cute #TimesUp pin James Franco. 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?” she wrote on Twitter.

Paley, who clarified that she was an adult and not a teen at the time, added that she did have a consensual relationship with Franco, but that the alleged encounter she mentioned was against her will. Paley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Seventeen is legal in New York, but that being said, it’s still pretty damn young
James Franco

Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who was once a student of Franco’s at his acting school, alleged that Franco exploited her by asking her to strip down on set for only US$100 per day after she signed a “vague and general at best” contract.

“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? Times up on that!” she tweeted. “I 100 per cent did not feel like I had a choice to say no.”

She also called out Franco for allegedly failing to give actresses speaking roles unless the part involved nudity.

Tither-Kaplan did not specify on which film set the nude scene occurred, but the two currently have a film titled The Long Home in post-production.

“If a famous actor who has the ability to make or break my career with the snap of his fingers offers me a part, I don’t have bargaining power. I need work. I need to eat. I need a career,” she tweeted.

She declined to comment to The News.

Paley and Tither-Kaplan were not the only ones to hint at something more sinister beneath Franco’s Golden Globes grin.

During the show’s broadcast, The Breakfast Club actress Ally Sheedy shared a series of cryptic tweets naming the actor.

Sheedy did not accuse Franco of anything, but took issue with his presence at the show.

“Why is a man hosting? Why is James Franco allowed in? Said too much,” Sheedy wrote in tweets that have since been deleted.

At the awards show, Franco was one of many stars who wore a pin in support of Time’s Up, an initiative launched by more than 300 women in Hollywood to fight sexual misconduct and give a voice to those without a platform.

Franco, 39, came under fire in 2014 after he attempted to pick up a 17-year-old girl over social media. The girl, who was visiting New York from Scotland at the time, met Franco outside his Broadway production of Of Mice and Men, and they began to exchange Instagram messages, which eventually leaked online.

Franco later defended himself during an interview on The Howard Stern Show after receiving considerable backlash.

“Seventeen is legal in New York, but that being said, it’s still pretty damn young,” Franco told the radio host. “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.”

Franco also made headlines in 2014 when he shared a selfie, seemingly out of the blue, wearing nothing but his briefs, which were pulled down below his waist. His hand was covering his crotch in the suggestive photo.

Reps for Franco did not immediately return a request for comment.

Franco himself has not responded to any of the allegations, but said on Sunday night backstage at the Golden Globes that it’s “everyone’s responsibility” to stand up against sexual harassment and make change in Hollywood.