American actor, James Franco has admitted having sex with his students, two years after they accused him of sexual exploitation.
Franco admitted in a wide-ranging interview with SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle that he thought sleeping with students of his acting school, Studio 4, was acceptable because it was “consensual” but denied starting the program to have access to them.
“Look, I’ll admit I did sleep with students. I didn’t sleep with anybody in [my ‘Sex Scenes’ 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, with a student and I shouldn’t have been.
“At the time 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….’ “
The actor also acknowledged that he realized sleeping with his students was poor form after having conversations with other people about the concept.
“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.
“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…”
During the interview, Franco also admitted he’s battled sex addiction and before his current girlfriend, Izabel Pakzad, he “cheated on everyone.” He disclosed that he became “completely blind to power dynamics or anything like that, but also completely blind to people’s feelings.”
“So I’ve just been doing a lot of work, and 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.
“It’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.
“I didn’t want to hurt people. 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.”
Ex-students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court in October 2019 claiming Franco and other instructors pressured women to get naked for auditions while dangling opportunities for movie roles that rarely materialized.
By engaging in “widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students,” Franco created “an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation” at the school, claims the suit, first reported by the New York Times.
At the time, an attorney for Franco denied each of the allegations and cited the actor’s 2018 comments on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as his formal denial. He said in a statement to The Post;
“This is not the first time that these claims have been made and they have already been debunked.
“James will not only fully defend himself, but will also seek damages from the plaintiffs and their attorneys for filing this scurrilous publicity seeking lawsuit.”
However, according to Variety, Franco settled the lawsuit for $2,235,000 in June 2021. Franco’s Studio 4 closed permanently in 2017.