Several women have made further claims of inappropriate sexual behavior against James Franco in a Los Angeles Times article. In the report published Thursday, two former student actresses described negative on-set experiences with the actor-filmmaker while being directed by him. Sarah Tither-Kaplan said in a nude orgy scene three years ago on the not-yet-released indie drama, Long Home, he removed plastic guards covering the actresses’ groins while simulating sex.
Former students spoke of an unprofessional culture at Franco’s now-closed acting school Studio 4, where he taught a sex scenes class. Two women said Franco became angry shooting a strip club scene when no actresses, who were masked, would go topless. One topless scene filmed during class with Tither-Kaplan was uploaded to Vimeo, she said.
Violet Paley said that during a consensual relationship, Franco once pressured her to perform oral sex in a car and that the “power dynamic was really off”.
On Wednesday night’s Late Night With Seth Meyers, Franco said the tweets by Paley and Tither-Kaplan were “not accurate” but he supported the women’s right to express their perspectives. A lawyer for Franco didn’t respond to queries Thursday. Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, disputed the allegations to the Times.
“There are stories that need to get out, people that need to be heard. I have my own side of this story but I believe that these people have been under-represented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say just because I believe in that so much,” said Franco to Meyers. “If I have to take a knock because I’m not gonna, you know, try and, you know, actively refute things then I will because I believe in it that much.”
Paley and Tither-Kaplan earlier tweeted about their past encounters with Franco after the actor wore a pin supporting the Time’s Up initiative for gender equality at Sunday’s Golden Globes. He won the award for best actor in a comedy or musical for The Disaster Artist.
Actress Ally Sheedy also said in a since-deleted tweet that Franco was an example of why she left the movie business. Franco on Tuesday told Stephen Colbert on The Late Show that he had “no idea” why Sheedy said that. He directed her in a 2014 off-Broadway play.
Several of Franco’s collaborators defended him from some of the claims. Vince Jolivette, Franco’s production partner at Rabbit Bandini Productions, which ran Studio 4, said the school “was always run professionally” and that he was investigating the matter.
In a statement provided by Franco’s publicist, Robin Baum, Cynthia Huffman, casting director of The Long Home said Tither-Kaplan’s description of the orgy scene was inaccurate.
“I feel so bad that Sarah feels the way she does. She is part of our camp! All actresses were aware of the nudity scenes ahead of time,” said Huffman. “I personally checked on all the actresses constantly to make sure they were ok and comfortable. I talked to them several times and told them if they were uncomfortable or did not like what was going on to come to me immediately and I would take care of it. I did not receive any complaints.”
In 2014, Instagram messages showed Franco apparently trying to hit on a 17-year-old Scottish fan. Afterward Franco said he was “embarrassed” and said social media is “tricky”. “I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson,” the actor said then.