James Franco finally broke his silence on the misconduct allegations against him. The actor opened up about the situation during an appearance on Sirius XM's The Jess Cagle Podcast earlier this week.
The Spider-Man alum took responsibility for several of his past actions and told the host that he remained silent for several years to focus on “examining” his behavioral patterns. He admitted to having physical relationships with students of his acting school, but claimed that the relationships were “consensual.”
The 43-year-old shared that he has battled s*x addiction for 20 years and has been sober since undergoing alcoholism treatment. James Franco also talked about cheating on several people before dating his current girlfriend, Isabel Pakzad, in 2017.
James Franco assault allegations explained
In January 2018, five women spoke to the Los Angeles Times and accused James Franco of inappropriate behavior and exploitation. The following year, two of the five accusers, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, filed a lawsuit against the actor.
The victims claimed that James Franco allegedly assaulted them during their time at his Studio 4 acting school:
“[James Franco] tried to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional s*xual exploitation in the name of education.”
His victims alleged that the actor forced them to perform certain questionable acts at his acting school within and outside their classes. Sarah Tither-Kaplan also claimed that controversial footage from one video was published on Vimeo without her consent.
James Franco previously acknowledged the allegations during Late Night with Seth Meyers. Although he did not refute the accusations at the time, he claimed to be holding back his side of the story:
“There are stories that need to get out. There are people that need to be heard. I have my own side of this story, but I believe in, you know, these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough. I will, you know, hold back things that I could say just because I believe in it that much. And if I have to take a knock because I'm not going to, you know, try and, you know, actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.”
According to the Los Angeles Superior Court, the James Dean star settled the lawsuit with $2.2 million to the victims this year. James Franco's acting school was also permanently shut down in 2017.
James Franco talks about his addiction issues
James Franco mostly stayed out of the spotlight following the misconduct and assault allegations against him between 2018 and 2019. However, he finally decided to acknowledge his past actions while speaking to Sirius XM’s Jess Cagle.
The Golden Globe Award winner said that he decided to remain silent to listen to the victims during 2018:
“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.”
He went on to admit that he had physical relationships with his students and agreed that his past actions were wrong even though he did not start the school with ill intentions:
“I'll admit, I did sleep with students. 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 who 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.”
The Milk actor shared that at the time, he felt all questionable actions made with consent were right:
“I suppose at the time my thing was, if it's consensual, OK. Of course I knew, I talked to other people, other teachers, yeah, it's probably not a cool thing. [But] at the time, I was not as clear-headed as I've said. So I guess it just comes down to my criteria: If this is consensual, it's cool. We're all adults.”
James Franco also said that he was “blind” about power dynamics and people’s feelings during that period:
“I [was] completely blind to power dynamics or anything like that, but also completely blind to people's feelings. I didn't wanna hurt people.”
He also mentioned that there were underlying causes buried beneath his controversial actions:
“Whatever you did, even if it was a gaff or you said something wrong or whatever, there's probably an iceberg underneath that — of behavior, of patterning, of just being blind to yourself, that isn't gonna just be solved overnight.”
James Franco also revealed that he struggled with alcoholism and turned to other inappropriate addictions during his sobriety:
“I was in recovery before, for substance abuse. And 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. S*x is such a powerful drug. And I got hooked on it for 20 more years. And the insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time.”
The Disaster Artist star also said that his addiction led to him being unfaithful to all his previous partners:
“I could never be faithful to anybody. So I cheated. I cheated on everyone before Isabel. 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.”
However, James Franco also shared that he has been doing “a lot of work” over the past four years and has started his journey towards “changing” for the better.