James Franco Is Reportedly in a Dark Place After Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Jan 17, 2018 at 10:42 a.m. ET
Image: George Pimentel/Getty Images

Updated Jan. 17, 2018, 7:40 a.m. PT: People close to James Franco say he still denies all the allegations against him and that he's "not in a good place" as he tries to move past five women's accusations that he sexually harassed, assaulted and exploited them.

"His friends are really worried about him," one source told Entertainment Tonight. "He's not in a good place. They're watching him around the clock. He's really struggling."

However, while that source claims the accusations against Franco are "not accurate," they also revealed Franco has been "a nervous wreck" about the #MeToo movement ever since it started gaining momentum.

"He's not surprised this came out," the source continued. "He actually reached out to multiple former students from his class, so he could speak to them. He is genuinely remorseful."

To add even more morbid interest to this story as it unfolds, the interview includes this source making claims that Franco has proof that he's innocent, but won't release it because he doesn't want to silence women he claims are lying.

"He doesn't want to be silencing someone and he doesn't want anyone to feel silenced," the source explained. "As he said to Seth Meyers, he cares about the movement so much he's willing to take a hit rather than be someone who silences women."

Franco will reportedly attend the SAG Awards on Sunday, Jan. 21 after noticeably skipping the Critics' Choice Awards on Jan. 11.

Updated Jan. 11, 2018, 8:15 a.m. PT: The allegations against James Franco just keep piling up. In an explosive exposé, the Los Angeles Times has spoken to at least five women who contend that Franco used his acting school, Studio 4, as a way to exploit and target young, up-and-coming actors, whom he would later harass and assault.

One of those women is Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who first logged her accusations of Franco's sexual misconduct on Twitter. She says that when Franco approached her about playing a prostitute in one of his films, she readily agreed, thinking it was her big break. But as filming progressed, she says Franco asked her to perform a "bonus" scene of an orgy. She was featured in the background, but said other women in the scene simulated oral sex with Franco and that he removed plastic guards that covered their genitals during the scene. One woman refused to continue, Tither-Kaplan said, and was sent home the next day.

"I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy," Tither-Kaplan said.

Franco's attorney denies the allegations that Franco continued with simulated oral sex scenes after removing the guards, but the Times says Tither-Kaplan's account was confirmed by several other women who were present.

Another former student at Franco's school, Hilary Dusome, described an "unprofessional and hostile" shoot at a strip club featuring herself and several other students from Studio 4. She says Franco told the women they were shooting a denim ad, then asked the women to remove their tops, and when they all refused, he stormed off the set.

"I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realized it was because I have nice [breasts], it was pretty clear that was not the case," Dusome said.

Natalie Chmiel, another former student who participated in that shoot, backed up Dusome's claims.

"He just took advantage of our eagerness to work and be a part of something bigger," Chmiel told the Times. "We were all these up-and-coming actors who were so hopeful."

Franco's attorney has denied the claims that he asked the actors to remove their tops.

Devyn LaBella was yet another student at Franco's school who said things there were not as they were advertised. She told the Times she started at Studio 4 because Franco told students they could earn parts in his movies and other projects. However, the parts he would give to students almost always required nudity, she said.

"They would tell us that smaller parts in their projects were being held exclusively for students — often they were opportunities for extra work or parts that required nudity," LaBella explained. "I didn’t have agency representation at the time, so I thought, 'Well, I’m not going to be able to get into good auditions, so this might be my opportunity.'"

Katie Ryan, another former student, corroborated that claim. She said Franco "would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts," and that she often received mass email requests Franco sent to students advertising a role as a "prostitute or hooker."

The Times' article also includes more details from Violet Paley, an aspiring filmmaker who accused Franco in a set of tweets of forcing her to perform oral sex on him. She said she met Franco in 2016, and he had been willing to give her notes on a script she had written. They were sitting in her car, she said, when the assault took place.

"I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out," Paley said. "I got really nervous, and I said, 'Can we do this later?' He was kind of nudging my head down, and I just didn’t want him to hate me, so I did it."

Paley said she was able to stop the encounter by telling Franco that she had seen someone near the car. She also said that she and Franco later had a consensual sexual relationship, which made her reluctant to come forward about her sexual assault. But now, in the wake of all the allegations made against powerful men in Hollywood in recent months, she says she felt empowered.

"I would say, 'No, stop, get out of my car,'" she said. "The power dynamic was really off."

Although five of Paley's family members told the Times she had told them about the incident, and Paley says Franco later called her on the phone to apologize, his attorney denies he ever assaulted her.

The entire Times exposé is long, but well worth taking the time to read. If nothing else, it will feel familiar, as Franco's behavior follows a pattern established by many men — Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey — who fell before him.

Updated Jan. 10, 2018, 7:15 a.m. PT: James Franco has addressed the sexual misconduct allegations against him, and despite one woman's allegation that he apologized privately to her and others, he denies everything.

"I haven’t read them. I’ve heard about them," Franco told Stephen Colbert during an appearance on The Late Show.

He continued, "Look, 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, you know, shut them down in any way. It’s, I think, a good thing and I support it."

So he thinks these accusations against him that are false are a good thing? If it's true that he's innocent, false accusations will undermine the power of the entire movement. This statement doesn't make any sense. And through all this, Franco still defended his decision to wear a Time's Up pin at Sunday's Golden Globes.

"I want to say I wore it because I do support it. I was, you know — look, I was so excited to win, but being in that room that night was incredible. I mean, it was powerful," he said. "There were incredible voices, and I support it. I support change. I support 50/50 and 20/20 which just means, you know, people that are underrepresented, women, and people of color, people in the LGBT community get, you know, positions — leadership positions that they fill all positions that they have been deprived of, I completely believe in that."

An important part of this movement is giving voices to women who have been silenced for too long, and part of that means believing victims when they come forward. It is so incredibly rare for women to make false reports of sexual assault and harassment, and with multiple women having independently accused Franco, who has also admitted to propositioning a teenager online — well, draw your own conclusions.

Original story, published Jan. 9, 2018: The trend of holding men accountable for their behavior apparently didn't end with 2017. It's a new year, and we have our first new allegations. This time, it concerns James Franco, the recent Golden Globe winner whose old behaviors are coming back to bite him in the butt — and hard.

More: An Extensive List of All the Jobs James Franco Has Ever Had

Franco has faced scrutiny in the past, most notably the time when he admitted to texting a 17-year-old girl, asking her where she was staying and whether he should get them a room there. She posted screenshots of the exchange on Instagram, and Franco didn't deny he had sent those texts (for the record, 17 is the age of consent in New York, where the girl in question reportedly lived at the time of the incident).

Now, Franco is facing more allegations of misconduct, and those who are accusing him have hinted at even more to come. In a series of tweets, actor Violet Paley called Franco out for wearing a Time's Up pin at the Golden Globes before accusing him of attempting to sexually assault her in his car.

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"Cute 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.

Paley also admitted it had taken her some time to come forward with this because she also had a consensual sexual relationship with Franco at one point.

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She also implied there may be more allegations coming, writing, "There are a lot more details that will be out soon. Working with people to do it in the best, safest way." It is not clear at time of reporting just how these details, if any, would come out to the public.

More: Best GIFs & Behind-the-Scenes Moments From the 2018 Golden Globes

Soon after Paley tweeted her story, actor Sarah Tither-Kaplan tweeted an allegation of her own. She alleges Franco had her do full nudity in two of her movies for only $100 a day, telling her that pay "wasn't exploitative."

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In later tweets, Tither-Kaplan explained that she went along with what Franco was asking because, as someone trying to break into an acting career, she "doesn't have the luxury of turning down jobs."

She continued on, saying Franco knew he had power over her as someone who could launch her career and that he abused that power.

"I rely on powerful people to help me, because I don't have access to opportunities without them," she wrote. "If they choose to abuse their power and take advantage of my need to work, that isn't my fault. It's the fault of the abuser."

Earlier today, Paley again took to Twitter to say that James Franco had offered her and other women apologies over the phone. She claimed he was "annoyed" as he apologized.

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More: Best Excerpts From Golden Globes Winners' Speeches

If 2017 and Sunday night's Golden Globes ceremony have made anything clear, it's that time is up on this kind of behavior, especially from men with the kind of power James Franco has.

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