This story has been updated.
James Franco arrived at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday wearing a Time’s Up pin designed to show support for women who have dealt with harassment or assault. But the actor is now facing a scandal of his own.
On Thursday morning, the Los Angeles Times published a report detailing five women’s accusations of “inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior.”
The report is the culmination of a recent wave of controversy that started the night of the Globes, when Franco won the award for best actor in a comedy or musical for “The Disaster Artist” and three actresses tweeted accusations of sexual misconduct. Franco denied the claims in an appearance Tuesday night on CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” hours after the New York Times canceled his TimesTalks event scheduled for Wednesday, saying in a statement to the New York Daily News that it was due to “the controversy surrounding recent allegations.” Franco also addressed the issue Wednesday on NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”
The night of the Globes, 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?”
The L.A. Times article then reported Paley’s account that she and Franco began a romantic relationship in 2016 after he agreed to provide notes on a script she wrote. Franco pressured her into performing oral sex on him in her car, an act she was uncomfortable with.
“I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out,” Paley said to the L.A. Times. “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.”
Though the two continued to have a consensual sexual relationship, Paley said that, today, she would’ve told Franco to get out of her car at the time of the incident. “The power dynamic was really off,” she added.
Another actress, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who was a student of Franco’s, wrote a tweet Sunday directed at Franco that stated, “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!” As the L.A. Times reported, she described that during “a nude orgy scene she filmed with Franco and several women three years ago, he removed protective plastic guards covering other actresses’ vaginas while simulating oral sex on them.”
Another student, Hilary Dusome, told the L.A. Times that she initially thought of Franco as “a really generous spirit” until he became angry after allegedly asking his students to take their tops off for a scene. Another student, Natalie Chmiel, remembered the incident as well.
The L.A. Times report said that “Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, disputed all of the women’s allegations and directed The Times to Franco’s comments Tuesday night on ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.’ ”
Also the night of the Globes, actress Ally Sheedy sent tweeted about Franco. “Why is a man hosting? Why is James Franco allowed in? Said too much. Nite love ya #goldenglobes,” she tweeted, later adding: “James Franco just won. Please never ask me why I left the film/tv business.”
Sheedy, whom Franco directed in the 2014 off-Broadway play “The Long Shrift,” deleted the tweets later that night, but screen shots still managed to circulate.
The Washington Post reached out to Franco, Sheedy, Paley and Tither-Kaplan for comment. None responded except Paley, who declined to comment.
This isn’t the first time Franco has dealt with allegations of inappropriate behavior. In 2014, the actor was accused of pursuing an underage girl via Instagram when he allegedly direct-messaged a 17-year-old fan and tried to meet up with her at a hotel, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Franco addressed the situation while appearing on “Live! With Kelly and Michael” after screen shots of the conversation spread online, saying he was unaware of the girl’s age.
“I’m embarrassed, and I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky,” he said. “It’s a way that people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned — I guess because I’m new to it — is you don’t know who’s on the other end.”
Twitter users drew attention to past allegations about Franco after his Golden Globe win.
Asked by Colbert at the end of Tuesday’s interview to address the recent allegations, Franco denied their accuracy and clarified that he wore the Time’s Up pin “because I do support it.”
“First of all, I have no idea what I did to Ally Sheedy,” he said. “I had nothing but a great time with her, total respect for her.”
Regarding the other allegations, he added: “The things that I heard 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 — I don’t want to, you know, shut them down in any way. I think it’s a good thing, and I support it.”
Colbert followed up by asking if there was a way to have this discussion off social media.
“Do you have any idea of what the answer might be to come to some sense of what the truth is so there can be some sort of reconciliation between people who clearly have different views of things?” he asked the actor. “I mean, it’s a big question, but I don’t know how to leave, or to further, this discussion.”
In reference to his own situation, Franco said: “The way I live my life, I can’t live if there’s restitution to be made. I will make it. So if I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to. I mean, I think that’s how that works. I don’t know what else to do.”
Regarding the bigger issue, he added: “Look, I really don’t have the answers. And I think the point of this whole thing is that we listen. You know, there were incredible people talking that night. They had a lot to say. And I’m here to listen and learn and change my perspective where it’s off, and I’m completely willing and want to.”