Why Alison Brie Defended James Franco Against Sexual Assault Allegations

James Franco has had a big year. He experienced a bit of a career resurgence, thanks to the popularity of his new film, The Disaster Artist. But he also found himself in the midst of controversy due to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. And he’s been called a hypocrite for supporting women’s rights causes when he, himself, may have been part of the problem.

There are few Franco defenders these days. But on Jan. 21, 2018, we learned his sister-in-law, actress Alison Brie, is one of them.

1. Franco has a long history of questionable behavior toward women

James Franco in a jacket and hat on the red carpet.

James Franco has a history of questionable behavior. | Theo Wargo/Getty Images

On Jan. 7, 2018, Franco won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his portrayal of Tommy Wisseau in The Disaster Artist. But as he was soaking up the praise, actress Ally Sheedy was tweeting “#MeToo.”

Her accusations inspired other actresses to share their stories about working and interacting with Franco. Their allegations spread quickly on social media, and led to a Los Angeles Times piece in which five women detailed situations they’d faced with Franco.

He’s been accused of, among other misconduct, abusing his power as a director by making demands about nudity and sexual acts on screen. This isn’t the first time Franco’s behavior has come under scrutiny. In 2014, he propositioned a 17-year-old girl on social media.

And some women feel that his private life and his public persona are at odds — and they’re tired of keeping quiet about it.

Next: Franco is now facing backlash for his support of women’s rights causes.

2. Franco has been criticized for supporting the Time’s Up movement

Actor James Franco arrives for the 75th Golden Globe Awards on January 7, 2018, in Beverly Hills, California.

James Franco wore the Time’s Up pin to the Golden Globes. | Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

At the Golden Globes, Franco was one of many men who wore a Time’s Up pin. And after the allegations surrounding his behavior, it wasn’t hard to see why his support for a women’s rights movement seemed hypocritical.

Actress Violet Paley tweeted, “Cute #TIMESUP 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?”

Nearly two weeks later, at a Women’s March rally in Los Angeles, Scarlett Johansson seemed to reference Franco in her speech. She said, “My mind baffles: How could a person publicly stand by an organization that helps to provide support for victims of sexual assault while privately preying on people who have no power? I want my pin back, by the way.”

In short, women in the Time’s Up movement expect their allies to be mindful of their own behavior. And they see Franco as a perfect example of why that’s so important.

Next: Franco’s response to the allegations have been pretty vague

3. Franco hasn’t exactly denied the allegations

James Franco on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

James Franco didn’t exactly refute the claims on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. | CBS

Since he’s faced backlash for his behavior, Franco has taken a step back from the spotlight. He cancelled an interview with TimesTalk in the days following the Golden Globes.

But he did appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Jan. 9, where he attempted to address the accusations against him. Franco told Colbert he had “no idea” what he did to Sheedy. He stopped short of denying he’s behaved inappropriately, though though. He told Colbert, “If there’s restitution to be made, I will make it. If I have done something wrong, I will fix it.”

Franco also addressed the allegations on Late Night with Seth Meyers. But he remained vague, alluding to the fact that his “version of events” might differ from his accusers.

And he isn’t the only one being asked to address his behavior.

Next: Alison Brie was asked about Franco on the red carpet.

4. Brie was recently asked about the allegations against Franco

Actress Alison Brie of 'The Disaster Artist' attends The IMDb Studio Hosted By The Visa Infinite Lounge at The 2017 Toronto International Film Festival at Bisha Hotel & Residences on September 10, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.

Alison Brie addressed the allegations. | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

On Jan. 21, the Screen Actors Guild Awards took place in L.A. Brie attended to support The Disaster Artist, which she co-stars in alongside Franco and her husband (and his brother), Dave.

E! News Giuliana Rancic interviewed Brie on the red carpet and asked her questions about her show, GLOW, and her support of Time’s Up.

Rancic then asked Brie about her thoughts regarding the allegations against Franco. And Brie didn’t miss a beat in her response.

Next: Brie made it clear she will stand by her family.

5. Brie was clear that she will support Franco

Actress Alison Brie arrives for the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Exposition Center on January 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Alison Brie defended her brother in law at the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Franco’s response to the allegations against him have been pretty consistent. He’s walked a fine line between refuting those that have accused him and defending himself.

Brie took a similar approach during her interview with Rancic. She told the E! News host, “I think that above all, what we’ve always said is it remains vital that anyone that feels victimized should and does have the right to speak out and come forward. I obviously support my family. Not everything that has been reported is fully accurate, so I think we’re waiting to get all the information. But of course now is the time for listening and that’s what we’re all trying to do.”

Next: Brie’s response drew both praise and criticism.

6. The response to Brie’s Franco support was mixed

A screenshot of Rebecca Keegan's tweet

Her statement drew mixed reactions. | Rebecca Keegan via Twitter

Fans watching the SAG Awards were quick to note Brie’s poise during her interview with Rancic. And some found that to be a bit suspicious. Vanity Fair correspondent Rebecca Keegan noted, “Alison Brie was so well prepared for E!’s James Franco question. It’s almost like they had a family meeting about how horrible this red carpet was gonna be for them and she volunteered as tribute.”

And Paley tweeted at Brie, “just wondering how you could comment on the accuracy of events you weren’t involved with.”

But others argued that Brie handled the question gracefully, and criticized Rancic for trying to make her answer for her brother-in-law’s behavior.

Next: Brie isn’t the first person to defend a family member against allegations.

7. Brie isn’t the first celebrity to take a controversial stand on sexual misconduct

WOOD, CA - JANUARY 13:  Alison Brie attends Los Angeles Confidential Celebrates "Awards Issue"

Alison Brie isn’t the only one to take a controversial stance. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Brie may have earned some backlash for saying she’s standing by her family for now. But she also made it clear that she supports the women who’ve chosen to speak out about abuse and misconduct.

She’s also not the only person who’s hesitated to condemn those that have been accused. From Matt Damon to Lena Dunham, dozens of celebrities have offered controversial views on sexual misconduct in Hollywood.

The conversation around Time’s Up, women’s rights, and sexual assault isn’t likely to die down anytime soon. So, Brie probably won’t be the last celebrity to face a similar scenario, either.

Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox.

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