After denying sexual allegations on both The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers, five women — including four former acting students — have accused James Franco of sexually exploitative behavior while he served as their teacher and mentor.
In an article published by the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, Jan. 11, the women share disturbing stories about the 39-year-old's alleged predatory acts. Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who took classes at Studio 4, the film school James founded in 2014, claims the director removed safety guards while filming an oral sex scene for the film The Long Home.
If you want to help the people coming forward in the #timesup and #metoo movements, then stand in solidarity with us, speak out against those who seek to discredit us, support us, and most importantly, hire us/work with us without making us compromise ourselves in return.— Sarah Tither-Kaplan🌈 (@sarahtk) January 8, 2018
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” she explains. “I feel there was an abuse of power, and there was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women, and a culture of women being replaceable." One-time student Hilary Dusome says she was asked to take her top off during a commercial shoot. “I don’t think he started teaching with bad intentions, but he went down a bad path and damaged a lot of people in the process,” she shares.
Former student Katie Ryan recalls that James “would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts,” and two other women say he became angry when they refused to film topless. The Disaster Artist star's attorney, Michael Plonsker, denied each allegation.
During his appearance on The Late Show, James responded to the myriad of tweets against him from actresses such as Ally Sheedy (who hinted that he's the reason she left showbiz) and Violet Paley (who claimed he pressured her into oral sex). “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," he said. "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."
On Late Night, he added, “There are people that need to be heard. I have my own side of this story, but I believe in these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say, just because I believe in it that much. So if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to try and actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.”