Was James Franco trying to come clean in his candid interview this week? Or was the whole thing just an exercise in evading responsibility for his actions?
The Pineapple Express star spoke to Jess Cagle on SiriusXM in an interview released on Wednesday, his first in four years. Franco opened up about his sex addiction and all the work he was putting in to change. One of the key points Cagle pinned the controversial star down on was the sexual misconduct accusations he faced as head of the Studio 4 acting school.
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The interviewer asked point blank about the accusation the whole school was just a sort of trap to funnel women into his bed. Franco denied that but did admit to having slept with students, qualifying:
“Look, I’ll admit I did sleep with students. I didn’t sleep with anybody in that particular class. But over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students and that was wrong. But like I said, I, it’s not why I started the school and I, I didn’t, 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.”
He didn’t defend the behavior exactly — the whole interview was, on the surface at least, largely contrite and accepting of responsibility and the need to change — but he did explain how he excused the violation of his power dynamic at the time, saying:
“I suppose at the time, my thinking was, ‘If it’s consensual, OK.’ Of course I knew, you know, talking to other people, other teachers or whatever, like, yeah. It’s probably not a cool thing.”
Not a cool thing. Something of an understatement, but OK.
He also obliquely blamed his sex addiction for his behavior, adding:
“At the time I was not clearheaded as I’ve said. So I guess my, 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…”
The thing is, it still seems like he’s confessing to behavior that doesn’t sound quite so bad as what he’s actually accused of.
Franco was accused in a January 2018 exposé of dangling film roles in front of young actresses and removing “vaginal guards” while simulating oral sex on students in a sex scene class. Two former students filed a lawsuit, saying the school “was little more than a scheme to provide him and his male collaborators with a pool of young female performers that they could take advantage of.” Franco settled the individual and class action suits for a reported $2.2 million early this year.
The law firms who represented the women in those cases didn’t care for the public face he’s putting on the scandal all these months later. In a statement to TMZ, the firms of Valli Kane & Vagnini, LLP and Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, LLP blasted the Oscar nominee’s “confession,” saying:
“In addition to being blind about power dynamics, Franco is completely insensitive to, and still apparently does not care about, the immense pain and suffering he put his victims through with this sham of an acting school… It is unbelievable that even after agreeing to a settlement he continues to downplay the survivors’ experiences and ignore their pain, despite acknowledging he had no business starting such a school in the first place.”
According to TMZ, the attorneys think the whole reason the interview was timed when it was — months after the details of the settlement came out and also right before the holidays — specifically to avoid making headlines. They said:
“Nobody should confuse this interview with Franco taking accountability for his actions or expressing remorse over what happened. It is a transparent ducking of the real issues released just before a major holiday in hopes that he wouldn’t face any scrutiny over his response.”
If he didn’t want any headlines, wouldn’t it be easier not to give an interview at all? Or is he hoping this could be the beginning of a long road back to stardom?
What do YOU think of Franco’s sex addiction talk in response to misconduct allegations. Is he genuinely remorseful? Trying to fix things? Or is he just looking to get out of movie jail??
Let us know in the comments (below)!
[Image via SiriusXM/YouTube.]