James Franco has revealed he slept with students at his acting school and felt ‘blind to power dynamics’ because they were ‘consenting adults’.
During a very candid conversation, the actor, 43, spoke about his relationships with students and how he ‘cheated on everyone’ during a 20-year struggle with sex addiction, four years after he was accused of sexual misconduct.
Speaking on the SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Podcast about his experience, James said that while teaching, he ‘did sleep with students, and that was wrong’.
He said: ‘I [was] completely blind to power dynamics or anything like that, but also completely blind to people’s feelings,’
James confirmed that while he did sleep with students at his acting school he thought it was ‘cool’ because it was ‘consensual’ and they were all adults.’
Confession: James Franco has revealed how he slept with students at his acting school and felt ‘blind to power dynamincs’ because they were ‘consenting adults’
During the discussion, James opened up about how he struggled to stay faithful to anyone and cheated on all of his past girlfriends.
He said: ‘I had girlfriends. I could never be faithful to anybody. I cheated on everyone before Isabel.’
Franco cited his 20-year battle with sex addiction as the main reason for his rampant adultery, an issue he’s been successfully battling for the past five years.
‘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 recovery background to kind of start examining this and changing who I was,’ explained James.
He admitted that he also didn’t think about the power dynamics at play when he pursued people he worked with, or those who attended his acting school.
‘I [was] completely blind to power dynamics or anything like that, but also completely blind to people’s feelings. I didn’t wanna hurt people,’ he said.
Changes: During a very candid conversation, the actor, 43, spoke about his relationships with students and how he ‘cheated on everyone’ during a 20-year struggle with sex addiction, four years after he was accused of sexual misconduct. Isabel and James pictured in 2019
‘I’ll admit, I did sleep with students,’ he said. ‘Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students. And that was wrong.
‘But, like I said, it’s not why I started the school. And I wasn’t the person who 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 a student and I shouldn’t have been.
‘I suppose at the time my thing was, if it’s consensual, OK. Of course I knew, I talked to other people, other teachers, yeah, it’s probably not a cool thing. [But] at the time, I was not as clear-headed as I’ve said. So I guess it just comes down to my criteria: If this is consensual, it’s cool. We’re all adults,’ he said.
‘Wrong’: Speaking on the SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Podcast about his experience, James said that while teaching, he ‘did sleep with students, and that was wrong’
When Franco was a teenager he said he was ‘addicted to alcohol’ and ‘got sober when [he] was 17,’ but his addictive behaviors would, eventually, flood into other elements of his life.
‘Once I couldn’t use alcohol to fill that hole, it was like, ‘Oh, success, attention, this is great.’ I got addicted to validation or success or whatever that is.
‘Along the road of trying to get success and climb the top of that mountain, attention from women, success with women also became a huge source of validation for me. The problem with that is, as I’m sure you can guess, is that there’s never enough.
‘I’m just trying to fill that hole and it never gets filled,’ he explained.
He described sex as ‘such a powerful drug’ and he, unfortunately, ‘got hooked on it for 20 more years.’
James continued: ‘And the insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time. So, and I went to meetings all that time. I even tried to sponsor other people.
‘And so in my head, it was like, ‘Oh, I’m sober. I’m living a spiritual life.’ Where on the side, I’m acting out now in all these other ways. And I couldn’t see it.’
He recalled his sponsor chastising him for cheating, but telling him that if he’s single, there’s nothing wrong with sleeping around — which Franco said he ‘ran’ with.
Committed: James has been dating Isabel since November 2017; Isabel and James pictured in 2019
‘[My sponsor was] like, ‘Look, the cheating is dishonest. I don’t think that’s good for your sobriety, but if you’re not dating someone and you wanna go and hook up, like whatever happens between two consenting adults is fine,” Franco said.
‘The problem was, I took that and I ran with it and used it as an excuse to just hook up all over the place. And it was like, well, we’re being honest here. Right?’ he said.
Though he’s since made the effort to tackle his demons, the Spider-Man star recalled often feeling detached from people while addicted to sex and how that detachment caused a mountain of hurt.
‘People that I got together with or dated, I’d see them for a long time, years. It’s just that I couldn’t be present for any of them. And the behavior spun out to a point where it was like I was hurting everybody.’
While also being candid about his struggles with addiction, Franco spent a large portion of his podcast appearance speaking on the sexual misconduct accusations made against him in 2018 — allegations that led him to settle with two accusers for $2.2 million this summer.
He told the host that he’s been ‘examining’ his past behavior and ‘changing who I was’ since the women came forward with their stories.
The Freaks And Geeks star remained quiet all this time because he knew he ‘needed to listen’ and examine the ‘behavior’ and ‘patterning’ that he has been blind to.
‘I’ve just been doing a lot of work. And I guess I’m pretty confident in saying like, four years, you know?’ he said.
In January of 2018, five women told the Los Angeles Times that Franco had been sexually inappropriate or exploitative with them. One detailed how Franco removed plastic guards from actress’ vulvas during a sex scene while simulating oral sex.
Two of the women, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, sued Franco in 2019, claimed that he tried to ‘create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education’ while they attended his Studio 4 acting school.
Franco settled for $2.2 million in July.
Putting in the work: ‘I’ve just been doing a lot of work. And I guess I’m pretty confident in saying like, four years, you know?’ he said
At the time of the initial allegations, Franco made brief comments about ‘taking responsibility’ but insisted that what was being said about him was not ‘accurate.’
He has limited his public exposure since, until sitting down with the The Jess Cagle Podcast for an interview that will debut tomorrow, December 23.
He told Cagle how he chose to ‘pause’ after the allegations came out.
Being honest: He confirmed that he did sleep with students at his acting school, but thought it was ‘cool’ because it was ‘consensual’ and they were all adults’
‘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,’ he said.
‘I’m gonna be, 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, you know, 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, you know, get it done,’ he went on.
‘But what that doesn’t do is allow you to do the work, and to look at what was underneath. Like, whatever you did, even if it was a gaff 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?’ he said.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan (pictured above) was one of actresses who have come forward to publicly call Franco out for alleged sexually inappropriate and exploitative behavior
The other student named in the lawsuit was Toni Gaal
In the new interview, Franco also admitted that it was ‘hurtful’ when his longtime collaborator and costar Seth Rogen said that he had no plans to work with him in the future.
Initially, when the allegations came out in 2018, Rogen told Vulture that he would continue to work with Franco.
But in May, he publicly revised his position, telling Britain’s Sunday Times that he would not.
‘I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now,’ he said.
Franco also admitted that it was ‘hurtful’ when his longtime collaborator and costar Seth Rogen said that he had no plans to work with him in the future
Speaking on the podcast this week, Franco said he ‘absolutely loves’ Rogen, whom he worked with for 20 years — but ‘what he said is true, you know, we aren’t working together right now and we don’t have any plans to work together.’
‘Of course it was hurtful, you know, in context, but I get it, you know, he had to answer for me cause I was silent,’ he went on. ‘He had to answer for me and I don’t want that. And so that’s why, it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to talk to you today is I just, I don’t want Seth or my brother or anyone to have to answer for me anymore.’
The allegations against Franco came in January of 2018, when five women described misconduct to the Los Angeles Times.
One of the women, Violet Paley, said she had a consensual relationship with the actor, but claimed that he once forced her into performing oral sex on her while they sat in his car.
The other four women were students at Studio 4, Franco’s now-closed acting school, and claimed he asked women both on set and in class to perform topless or even completely nude.
One of those students, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, claimed that while at Studio 4, she had enrolled in Franco’s Sex Scenes master class. In one short video for the class, she appeared topless. That video was then uploaded to Vimeo without her knowledge, she claimed.
And a still from the video ended up on at least one adult website, according to Tither-Kaplan.
‘Now, if you Google me, you can see me naked. Before I’ve ever been on TV or before I’ve ever had any real credits or before any of this — of course I regret that. I don’t want that,’ she said.
But landing a role in Franco’s film The Long Home was a huge break for her — that proved uncomfortable.
In May, Rogen said he has not worked with Franco recently has does not have a plan to do so right now
While on set, Tither-Kaplan was asked if she would be willing to appear in a nude orgy scene, which she admittedly agreed to do because she saw her appearance in the film as a big break in her career.
Tither-Kaplan appeared with several other women in the scene, and they each wore nothing but a piece of plastic known as a genital guard.
She claimed that when it came time for Franco to simulate oral sex on the actresses, he removed the guard and continued to act out the scene with no barrier between his mouth and the women’s vaginas.
Her willingness to appear in the nude orgy shoot got Tither-Kaplan asked back to film another scene. This time, it was an unscripted bit that required her to be topless while wearing an animal skull and dancing around in a circle with other women.
One of the actresses declined to appear topless in the scene and was not asked back on set by Franco, according to Tither-Kaplan.
‘I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,’ she said of Franco.
An actress who appeared alongside her in those two scenes confirmed Tither-Kaplan’s account, while Franco’s lawyer said: ‘The allegations about the protective guards are not accurate.’
The casting director on the film, Cynthia Huffman, also commented on the claims by saying she ‘personally checked on all the actresses’ during the shoot.’
‘James is all about giving up and comers, actors and actresses and young filmmakers a break in this business,’ said Huffman.
‘I feel horrible that anyone was made to feel uncomfortable but we went to great lengths to make sure all the actresses in the nude scenes felt comfortable and safe.’
Meanwhile, Paley said that Franco was a mentor who was helping her on a script she was working on back in 2016, which eventually led to a relationship between the two.
It was at the start of that relationship when she claims Franco forced her into performing a sex act.
‘I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out,’ said Paley. ‘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.’
She said that she was able to stop only when she claimed to see people approaching the car.
James Franco, pictured here in Los Angeles in November 2017, agreed to pay $2.23 million to resolve a sexual misconduct lawsuit
Hilary Dusome and Natalie Chmiel said they became disenfranchised with Franco and his acting classes back in 2012 when they were selected to appear in what they were led to believe was a short art film.
It was midway through the shoot, which took place at a strip club, when they claim Franco asked them if they would be willing to go topless. When none of the women volunteered, he allegedly 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,’ said Dusome. ‘I don’t think he started teaching with bad intentions, but he went down a bad path and damaged a lot of people in the process.’
Chmiel echoed this, stating: ‘He just took advantage of our eagerness to work and be a part of something bigger. We were all these up-and-coming actors who were so hopeful.’
Franco’s lawyer again denied these allegations.
Franco later spoke on TV to Seth Meyers, stating: ‘There are stories that need to get out. There are people that need to be heard.
‘I have my own side of this story, but I believe in, you know, these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will, you know, hold back things that I could say just because I believe in it that much.
‘And if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to, you know, try and, you know, actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.’
Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal went on to sue Franco, as well as his partners in the school, Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis. They reached a settlement in July.
Franco, Jolivette, and Davis said they ‘continue to deny the allegations in the complaint’ but ‘they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues,’ according to a ‘public statement’ section in the settlement.
‘And all parties strongly believe that now is a critical time to focus on addressing the mistreatment of women in Hollywood. All agree on the need to make sure that no one in the entertainment industry — regardless of sex, race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation — faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.’
The Jess Cagle Podcas premieres Thursday, December 23.
JAMES FRANCO SAYS HE IS NOT DENYING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS TO HELP WOMEN
James Franco spoke about the allegations being amde against him on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Wednesday (above)
Seth Meyers: I’m very glad you’re here. I want to talk about The Disaster Artist, which I loved, and want to get to the Golden Globes, but one of the things that happened at the Golden Globes – and obviously, this happened in the last couple of days before we had you booked on the show and I’m glad you’re still here. You were wearing a time’s up button like a lot of guys at the show and some women during your time on stage said that was hypocritical, they went to Twitter and said that it was hypocritical based on their experiences that they have had with you. They made some allegations. I wonder if you have read those tweets, and if so, how you respond to them?
James Franco: Yes. I was sent a couple of the tweets, so yeah, I did read them. I haven’t responded. I think, well the ones I read were not accurate, but one of the things that I’ve learned is that this is a conversation that obviously needs to be had. There are people, women and others who have not been a part of this conversation and I truly believe and why I was wearing the pin is that they need to be a part of this conversation and so I support that.
Seth: Ally Sheedy also had a tweet. She has since took it down. I heard you mention last night on Stephen Colbert’s show that you had directed her in a play. You’ve had a good experience with her. Have you reached out to her as someone, and, are you not curious as to why she would do that if you had, from your perspective, a good relationship with her?
James: Yes, I had a great relationship with her. She took the tweet down, I don’t know. I really don’t
Seth: Not curious enough though to reach out to her as someone that you’ve had a good relationship with before and to try to understand why she would have done that?
James: I don’t know. I – it was so shocking. I don’t know. I just – I guess I’m just letting it be.
Seth: The last thing I’ll say, or ask about this I should say, this moment, you know, I think this is an exciting time because it’s allowing us all remember, especially as men, that there were other people in different perspectives for things that we experienced. Does this Times Up movement and this moment we’re having right now, does it make you look back at all and question any of your behavior in the past based on this new perspective we’re getting on how women have perceived things for so long?
James: I think what I really learned and being here and this week and that show that we were you know … I mean it was so powerful in there.
Seth: That we heard some amazing things from some amazing women.
James: Like I said, there are stories that need to get out. There are people that need to be heard. I have my own side of this story, but I believe in, you know, these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will, you know, hold back things that I could say just because I believe in it that much. And if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to, you know, try and, you know, actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.
Source: Late Night With Seth Meyers