James Franco has addressed allegations of sexual misconduct against him after nearly four years.
In 2018, the actor was accused by five women of sexual misconduct. An attorney for Franco denied all the allegations at the time.
In February 2021, Franco settled a lawsuit with two accusers, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who were former students at now-defunct acting school Studio 4 – where they claimed he pushed his acting students to perform explicit scenes on camera. According to records from the Los Angeles Superior Court, the actor agreed to pay $2,235,000 (£1,673,568) in the settlement.
The lawsuit also claimed Franco and his partners “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behaviour towards female students by sexualising their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.”
Speaking in a new interview on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Podcast, Franco admitted he had slept with students while teaching at the school.
“Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong,” Franco said. “But like I said, it’s not why I started the school and I wasn’t the person that 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.”
Addressing why he’s decided to talk about the misconduct allegations now, Franco said it “did not seem like the right time to say anything” when they first emerged in 2018.
“There were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen,” the actor said.
He added: “So I’ve just been doing a lot of work. And I guess I’m pretty confident in saying like, four years, you know? I was in recovery before for substance abuse. 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.”
After becoming sober from alcohol at a young age, Franco said he has struggled with sex addiction for years – stating that he “cheated on everyone” before his current relationship with girlfriend Isabel Pakzad.
“I didn’t want to hurt people,” Franco said. “In fact, I wasn’t really a one-night-stand guy. 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 behaviour spun out to a point where it was like I was hurting everybody.”
The actor also addressed recent comments from previous collaborator Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, This Is The End), who cut ties with the actor over the allegations.
“I just want to say, I absolutely love Seth Rogen. I love Seth Rogen,” Franco said. “I worked with him for 20 years and we didn’t have one fight. For 20 years, not one fight. He was my absolute closest work friend, collaborator. We just gelled.
“What he said is true. We aren’t working together right now and we don’t have any plans to work together. Of course, it was hurtful in context, but I get it, you know, he had to answer for me because I was silent. He had to answer for me and I don’t want that.
“And so that’s why, you know, 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 [Dave Franco] or anyone to have to answer for me anymore.”
The full interview with Franco is set to be released Thursday (December 23) on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Podcast.