James Franco, one of the latest Hollywood celebrities to be accused of sexual misconduct, addressed the rumors and allegations against him on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Tuesday night, denying everything.
After Colbert confirmed that he’d discussed the issue with Franco backstage first and that Franco was ready to speak, Franco began his statement.
“There were some things on Twitter. I haven’t read them, I’ve heard about them,” he said. “In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done. I have to do that to maintain my well-being. I do it whenever I know there’s something wrong or that needs to be changed; I make it a point to do it. 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. I don’t want to shut them down in any way. It’s, I think, a good thing, and I support it.”
Franco’s reputation was not squeaky clean to begin with. In 2014, a then-35-year-old Franco tried to arrange a hookup with a 17-year-old girl on Instagram. (Said hookup never actually happened.) He later admitted to the incident on Live With Kelly and Michael, saying, “I’m guess I’m, you know, embarrassed, and I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky. What I’ve learned, because I’m new to this, is just that you don’t know who’s on the other end.” Screencaps of the conversation provided by the girl in question show her informing Franco that she is “nearly 18.”
On The Howard Stern Show, Franco later added, “Seventeen is legal in New York, but that being said, it’s still pretty damn young. … They make it out like I’m pursuing young women. I’m not going to high schools looking for dates. I’m leaving my work and they’re coming there. So, I’m seeing attractive women.”
So when Franco appeared at the Golden Globes on Sunday night wearing a Time’s Up pin, hackles were raised. The sight of Franco being feted amid a large and visible protest against the sexist mistreatment of women in Hollywood inspired several women to come forward with new accusations against him — most prominently actress Violet Paley, who accused Franco of sexual assault on Twitter.
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?— Violet Paley (@VioletPaley) January 8, 2018
Paley added that a few weeks ago, Franco called her and “a few other girls” with “an overdue, annoyed, convenient phone ‘apology,’” which she says she did not accept.
And Actress Sarah Tither-Kaplan said on Twitter that Franco had pressured her and other actresses into doing nude scenes in his films by using exploitative tactics.
Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes , remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn't exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times up on that!— Sarah Tither-Kaplan (@sarahtk) January 8, 2018
If a famous actor who has the ability to make or break my career with the snap of his fingers offers me a part, I don't have bargaining power. I need work. I need to eat. I need a career. I can't afford to say "no".— Sarah Tither-Kaplan (@sarahtk) January 8, 2018
Finally, actress Ally Sheedy cryptically wrote in a now-deleted tweet, “Why is a man hosting? Why is James Franco allowed in? Said too much.”
Sheedy’s comments were the only ones Franco addressed specifically on The Late Show. “First of all, I have no idea what I did to Ally Sheedy,” he said. “I directed her in a play off Broadway. I had nothing but a great time with her. Total respect for her. I have no idea why she was upset. She took the tweets down. I don’t know. I can’t speak for her, I don’t know.”
Franco’s quasi-apology slash denial is fairly par for the course when it comes to the apologies we’ve seen so far from other powerful men accused of sexual misconduct, especially in its emphasis on his own allegedly sterling morality. As awards season continues, and Franco’s publicity tour with it, it remains to be seen whether this apology will need to develop further.