Several women have made allegations against Franco after he wore a Time’s Up pin to the Globes. (AP: Matt Sayles)
At the Golden Globes, James Franco sat in the audience with a Time’s Up pin on his lapel and laughed along with the rest of Hollywood as Seth Meyers made jokes about Harvey Weinstein.
Hours later, he was facing his own allegations of sexual misconduct.
Here’s how the claims came about, why some women say he shouldn’t be associated with the Time’s Up anti-harassment movement, and what he’s said in response.
It all started with some cryptic tweets
When Franco picked up the Golden Globe for best actor on Monday, actress Ally Sheedy (of the Breakfast Club fame) tweeted that he was an example of why she left the movie business.
That tweet was then deleted, but it was enough to spark a conversation.
Later, actress Violet Paley tweeted that Franco pushed her head toward his groin in a car while the two were in a consensual relationship.
Here are her tweets:
Tweet by Violet Paley: Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco. Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis & that other time you told my friend to come to your hotel when she was 17? After you had already been caught doing that to a different 17 year old?
Tweet by Violet Paley: A couple weeks ago, James offered me & a few other girls an overdue, annoyed, convenient phone “apology”. I don’t accept, but maybe some other people’s lives would be made easier if he donated all of his earnings from “The Disaster Artist” to @RAINN01.
ICYMI: The incident that Paley refers to in that first tweet happened in 2014, when Instagram messages showed Franco apparently trying to hit on a 17-year-old Scottish fan. At the time, Franco said he was “embarrassed” by the situation, and social media was “tricky”.
Then filmmaker Sarah Tither-Kaplan came forward, claiming that a $100-a-day contract she signed to perform nudity in one of his films was exploitive.
Those claims prompted the Times to cancel an interview
The next day, the New York Times axed a scheduled interview with Franco and his brother Dave, where they were supposed to discuss The Disaster Artist.
It was an unsurprising move, given it was the Times that originally broke the story about Weinstein in October.
“Given the controversy surrounding recent allegations, we’re no longer comfortable proceeding in that vein,” they said in a statement.
But Franco denies the claims
Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday night, Franco said the claims weren’t accurate, but he fully supported women coming forward.
James Franco supports ‘Time’s Up’ and addresses recent accusations on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
He said he had “no idea” why Sheedy — whom he once directed in a play — was upset. And as for the other claims:
“Look I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done,” 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.
“I think that it’s a good thing and I support it.”
He then echoed those words on Late Night with Seth Meyers last night, which was an important interview given Meyers hosted the Globes.
Remember he made this joke about Franco being “seedy” in his opening monologue?
“I live in New York, so one of my favourite shows of the year was The Deuce. If you haven’t seen it, the Deuce is a show about Times Square in the early 70s, when New York was so seedy there were two James Francos,” he quipped.
The Deuce is about the porn industry, and Franco has a reputation for doing weird, creative things, so Meyers may have just been poking fun at that.
But it was a poignant comment, especially after the claims emerged, and given that so many jokes about Weinstein were laughed off over the years.
And now two more women have come forward
Today, two more women have described negative on-set experiences with Franco in a Los Angeles Times article.
The two former student actresses say there was an unprofessional culture at his now-closed acting school Studio 4, where he taught a class on sex scenes.
Vince Jolivette, Franco’s production partner who helped run the school, said he would investigate the matter.
And Tither-Kaplan has made a further claim.
She says in a nude orgy scene three years ago on the not-yet-released indie drama Long Home, Franco removed plastic guards covering the actresses’ groins while simulating sex.
But the film’s casting director, Cynthia Huffman, said that description was inaccurate.
“I personally checked on all the actresses constantly to make sure they were OK and comfortable,” she said.
So what now?
The Disaster Artist has been recognised as one of the best films of 2017. (Supplied: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Justina Mintz)
The scrutiny comes at a delicate moment for Franco.
He could be up for best actor at the Oscars, but the voting for nominations ends on Friday.
The official nominees will be announced on January 23.