Five women detailed accounts of sexually inappropriate behavior involving James Franco in a Los Angeles Times report Thursday, with allegations ranging from coerced oral and genital contact to exploitative work environments.
Two of the women interviewed by the Times — actresses Violet Paley and Sarah Tither-Kaplan — had previously called out Franco on social media for wearing a Time’s Up pin at the Golden Globes on Sunday. Four of the women said they were Franco’s students — the actor ran a film school in New York and Los Angeles, Studio 4, which abruptly closed last fall, and also taught at Playhouse West in Hollywood — while one described him as a mentor.
Tither-Kaplan told the Times that while filming a nude orgy scene for one of Franco’s films, he removed the plastic guards covering several actresses’ genitals while simulating oral sex. “I feel there was an abuse of power, and there was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women, and a culture of women being replaceable,” Tither-Kaplan said.
Two more former students, Natalie Chmiel and Hilary Dusome, said Franco became upset when the women didn’t agree to go topless for a shoot. Katie Ryan, a student who met Franco at Playhouse West, said that while the actor had assured students that he would be able to find them roles in his films, the roles offered were usually a “prostitute or a hooker.” 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,” Ryan added.
Paley, who met Franco in early 2016, said that after they had begun a consensual relationship, the actor pressured her to put his genitals in her mouth in her car. They continued seeing each other after the incident, but reflecting on the relationship in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Paley said she’d have handled the situation differently. “I would say, ‘No, stop, get out of my car,’” she told the Times. “The power dynamic was really off.”
Franco’s attorney denied the allegations to the Times — though Tither-Kaplan and Paley both said that the actor has reached out and apologized to them for his behavior — and directed the publication to Franco’s interview on The Late Show with host Stephen Colbert on Tuesday. “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,” Franco told Colbert. “If I have done something wrong,” he told Colbert, ”I will fix it — I have to.”
Read the Times report here.