James Franco is the latest Hollywood figure to be accused of sexual misconduct, as five women have come forward claiming the actor had inappropriate behavior with them. The Los Angeles Times published a report with the ladies' stories, four of which have been Franco's former students from his Studio 4 acting school.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan claimed the actor removed protective plastic guards that covered their vagina and proceeded to stimulate oral sex on her and other women during an on-set nude orgy scene. “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,” she stated. Tither-Kaplan was one of many women who called out Franco on Twitter for hypocritically wearing a Time's Up pin at the Golden Globes last Sunday, where he won Best Actor for The Disaster Artist.
Hilary Dusome, who took a class with Franco in 2012, recalled when he began to treat the students more like strippers than actresses. The LA Times reports:
"Her feelings shifted after being selected to appear, with a handful of other female students, in what she thought was one of Franco’s 'art films.' Natalie Chmiel, the other student, said she was told the footage would be used in a 7 For All Mankind jeans commercial. Both women described what they considered to be an unprofessional and hostile shoot at a strip club.
Midway through filming, Dusome said Franco approached the actresses—who wore masks and lingerie—and asked, 'So, who wants to take your shirt off?' When no actresses volunteered, Franco stormed off, Dusome recalled.
'I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realized it was because I have nice [breasts], it was pretty clear that was not the case,' Dusome said. '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.'"
Franco acknowledged the Twitter allegations of sexual misconduct during his interview on Stephen Colbert's The Late Show. There were some things on Twitter...I haven’t read them. I’ve heard about them,” he said. “Okay, first of all, I have no idea what I did to Ally Sheedy. 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 tweet down. I don’t know. I can’t speak for her. I don’t know.”
“The others, look, 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 that there is something wrong or needs to be changed, I make it a point to do it," Franco continued. "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—I don’t want to, you know, shut them down in any way.”
We've seen actors like T.J. Miller, Louis C.K. and Danny Masterson get fired from projects due to the rise of familiar accusations. But will Franco fare the same? There is already buzz that he will win Best Actor at this year's Academy Awards following his big night at the Golden Globes. And with the Oscars nominations voting closing tomorrow, he will most likely still get a nomination. But it will be interesting to see how he chooses to address these allegations (or not) during the ceremony.