James Franco Says Sexual Exploitment Allegations Against Him Are ‘False’

No one can deny that James Franco has been a controversial figure for a little while now, both as a businessperson and actor. Things didn’t start off that way when nurturing his nascent acting career 20 years ago.

Back then, he was thought to become a superstar after starting out with Freaks and Geeks on TV, followed by playing James Dean in a 2001 cable TV biopic.

Later, he became one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood who could go from serious roles to playing Harry Osborn in the Sony Spider-Man franchise. In more recent years, he’s been doing some increasingly offbeat things, albeit said to be pushing creative boundaries.

When starting his own acting school in 2014, it was thought to be a safe training ground for those like him.

A recent lawsuit from two women says James Franco exploited them at his acting studio

James Franco
James Franco | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Turner

Because Franco is known for his penchant in doing performance art, it’s probably a weird experience working around someone like him while teaching the craft of acting. Some might say he’s eschewed the odd side of art a little too much, perhaps bleeding over into his acting courses.

His old acting school (Playhouse West Studio 4) only lasted a few years until closing in 2017. During that time, though, one has to wonder what students learned from Franco about how to act.

According to two women who took courses from him, he exploited them sexually for a movie he was making.

Anyone following the tabloid reports of this story will know it stems from the making of Franco’s indie film The Long Home, a project he has yet to release. While he’s assembled a great cast for this film, there were apparently sex scenes done in the movie using unknown actresses from Franco’s acting school.

Two of these women (Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal) claim they were forced to do certain scenes considered risky to their own well-being. They also charge Franco and his business associates used them for these scenes in an exploitative way, despite Tither-Kaplan praising Franco on social media.

Franco denies all charges, even though it’s not the first allegation

Many might remember Franco addressing prior sexual harassment allegations against him on Late Show with Stephen Colbert. When Colbert asked Franco about it point-blank, latter said:

“Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done. I have to do that to maintain my well-being. 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 shut them down in any way.”

We may never know the truth about James Franco

As well-meaning as this is, perhaps it’s just further attempt to shut down the reality of males dominating Hollywood for multiple decades. The culture of that seems stuck in automatic pilot and unable to fully be repaired.

Despite so many being outed as serial sex abusers, will Franco be the next one? One has to wonder if he’ll defend it as being a form of performance art this time around.

Everyone should believe the women first and then go from there based on the evidence, even if the truth about the allegations is never officially revealed.

Franco is still busy as an actor. Although we’ll see if any further allegations don’t end up having him taking time out to reassess who he is as a person or artist.