James Franco Speaks Out 4 Years After Sexual Misconduct Allegations: ‘I Did Sleep with Students’
Nearly four years ago, James Franco was accused of sexual misconduct by five women.
Franco is now breaking his silence on the allegations in an interview on SiriusXM's “The Jess Cagle Podcast.” Explaining his choice to stay silent, he said, “In 2018, there were some complaints about me and an article about me and, at that moment I just thought, 'I'm gonna be quiet. I'm gonna be, I'm gonna pause.' Did not seem like the right time to say anything.”
“There were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen,” Franco stressed. “There's a writer Damon Young and he talked about when something like this happens, the natural human instinct is to just make it stop. You just want to get out in front of it and whatever you have to do apologize, you know, get it done. But what that doesn't do is allow you to do the work to, and to look at what was underneath."
Franco noted that he’s been “doing a lot of work” to be a better person over the past few years. He shared, “Whatever you did, even if it was a gaff or you said something wrong or whatever, there's probably an iceberg underneath that behavior, of patterning, of just being blind to yourself that isn't gonna just be solved overnight.”
He added, “I guess I'm pretty confident in saying like, four years, you know? I was in recovery before for substance abuse. There were some issues that I had to deal with that were also related to addiction. And so I've really used my recovery background to kind of start examining this and changing who I was."
During the interview, Franco revealed that he struggled with sex addiction after getting sober from alcohol. He pointed out, "[Sex]'s such a powerful drug. I got hooked on it for 20 more years. The insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time. And I went to meetings all that time. I even tried to sponsor other people. So in my head, it was like, 'Oh, I'm sober. I'm living a spiritual life.' Where on the side, I'm acting out now in all these other ways, and I couldn't see it."
Franco admitted he “cheated on everybody” before he started dating Isabel Pakzad in November 2017.
“I didn't want to hurt people,” James explained. “In fact, I wasn't really a one-night-stand guy. People that I got together with or dated, I'd see them for a long time, years. It's just that I couldn't be present for any of them. And the behavior spun out to a point where it was like I was hurting everybody.”
Of the five women who spoke out against Franco, four of them were his former students at the film school he founded.
Acknowledging his past wrongdoings, Franco revealed, “Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong. But like I said, it's not why I started the school and I wasn't the person that selected the people to be in the class. So it wasn't a 'master plan' on my part. But yes, there were certain instances where, you know what, I was in a consensual thing with a student and I shouldn't have been."
As for his thought process at the time, Franco said, “I was not clearheaded, as I've said. So I guess it just comes down to my criteria was like, 'If this is consensual, like, I think it's cool. We're all adults so….'"
In 2018, Franco made an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," where he denied the sexual misconduct allegations, saying, “There were some things on Twitter. I haven't read them. I've heard about them… In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for what I've done. The things I heard are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out because they didn't have a voice for so long. I don't want to shut them down in any way. I think it's a good thing and I support it."
A few months ago, Franco reached a settlement with Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, two of his former acting students. In records obtained by People magazine, he agreed to pay $2,235,000 in the deal.
To watch the full interview, tune in on SiriusXM's “The Jess Cagle Show” on Thursday, December 23, at 2 p.m. ET.