Me Too accused actor James Franco addressed sexual assault allegations made in 2018 against him during The Jess Cagle Podcast, on Wednesday. He admitted to dealing with sex addiction and sleeping with students of an acting school that he previously ran.
“I suppose at the time, my thinking was if it is consensual, OK. At the time I was not clearheaded,” he said. However, he acknowledged that it was wrong, and that was not the primary intention to set up the school.
The Oscar-nominated actor was accused in the #MeToo movement after the Los Angeles Times reported, in 2018, that five women accused Franco of inappropriate and sexually exploitative behaviour during the period when he served as their teacher at the now discontinued acting school, Studio 4.
Franco launched Studio 4 in 2014 in association with Playhouse West. According to the LA Times report, the school’s now-closed website promised students who enrolled a part in Franco’s projects under his banner Rabbit Bandini Productions.
While the initial responses were smooth, several female students shared instances of uncomfortable situations that they were subjected to when Franco asked them to go topless, or removed the padding that covered the female private parts for his classes that were called ‘Sex Scenes’.
He acknowledged that naming the class so was ‘stupid’ and said, “It was not about sex scenes. I was not teaching people how to do sex scenes or intimate scenes, or anything of that nature. It was a provocative title.”
The 43-year-old actor also drew a parallel to his class and the Netflix show The Chair, headlined by Sandra Oh, where Oh is a professor of English Literature and conducts a class titled Sex and American Literature. “It should have been called Contemporary Romance, or something like that,” Franco added.
Franco and the students were definitely not on the same page as two female students filed a lawsuit in 2019 and claimed that they were intimidated and sexually objectified by Franco and his partner. The report added that in the auditions for the master classes on ‘Sex Scenes’, “the students were pressured to engage in sexual activity that went well beyond the industry norm. The auditions were taped, and Franco would review the tapes to see who would be allowed into the class.”
The suit was settled earlier this year with a settlement amount of over $2.2 million to be paid to the plaintiffs.