AceShowbiz - Five women have alleged James Franco inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior. Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Violet Paley, who previously brought up Franco's alleged sexual misconduct on Twitter after his Golden Globe win, detail their experiences with "The Disaster Artist" actor in an interview with Los Angeles Times.
Tither-Kaplan, a former acting student at the film school Franco founded who also appeared in several of his productions, says, "I feel there was an abuse of power, and there was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women, and a culture of women being replaceable."
Tither-Kaplan, who claimed on Sunday, January 7 that she felt like she had no choice to turn down a nude scene when working together with Franco in a film, says that "in a nude orgy scene she filmed with Franco and several women three years ago, he removed protective plastic guards covering other actresses' vaginas while simulating oral sex on them."
Paley, who admitted she had a consensual relationship with Franco but at one time he exposed himself and tried to pressure her into oral sex, recounts, "I was talking to him [in a car], all of a sudden his penis was out. I got really nervous, and I said, 'Can we do this later?' He was kind of nudging my head down, and I just didn't want him to hate me, so I did it."
Paley says she began to perform the sex act, but was uncomfortable. Paley insists "that time wasn't consensual." She also alleged that he tried to lure her 17-year-old friend to his hotel room.
Meanwhile, two of his former students say Franco would often become angry on set when they would refuse to film topless. Hilary Dusome, 33, who took a class from Franco in 2012, recalls, "I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realized it was because I have nice [breasts], it was pretty clear that was not the case. I don't think he started teaching with bad intentions, but he went down a bad path and damaged a lot of people in the process."
Natalie Chmiel similarly says, "He just took advantage of our eagerness to work and be a part of something bigger. We were all these up-and-coming actors who were so hopeful."
Katie Ryan, who met Franco at Playhouse West and took several classes at Studio 4, says that the 39-year-old actor "would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts" in his projects. She says that for years, she received mass email requests from Franco to audition for roles playing "a prostitute or a hooker."
Franco's attorney Michael Plonsker has denied each of the women's allegations. Vince Jolivette, co-owner of Rabbit Bandini, which ran Studio 4, also says in a statement that "the school was always run professionally." He adds, "Our instructors were excellent, student feedback was positive," noting that they were investigating complaints about the school that are "very inconsistent with the mission."
Cynthia Huffman, the casting director of "The Long Home", also denies Tither-Kaplan's allegation. "I feel so bad that Sarah feels the way she does. She is part of our camp!" she says. "All actresses were aware of the nudity scenes ahead of time. I personally checked on all the actresses constantly to make sure they were ok and comfortable. I talked to them several times and told them if they were uncomfortable or did not like what was going on to come to me immediately and I would take care of it. I did not receive any complaints."
She continues defending the actor, "James is all about giving up and comers, actors and actresses and young filmmakers a break in this business. I feel horrible that anyone was made to feel uncomfortable but we went to great lengths to make sure all the actresses in the nude scenes felt comfortable and safe. We are all about making movies and having fun on set!"
Following the allegations, "The Deuce" co-creator David Simon says he has "checked with all my fellow producers and other personnel" and there's "no complainant or complaint or any awareness of any incident of concern involving Mr. Franco." He adds, "Nor has HBO been approached with any complaint. In our experience, he was entirely professional as an actor, director, and producer."
Franco stars on the HBO porn drama series in dual roles.
The Oscar-nominated actor himself addressed the allegations during his appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on Tuesday, January 9. He said, "In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I've done. I have to do that to maintain my well-being. I do it whenever I know that there is something wrong or needs to be changed, I make it a point to do it."
"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," he added. "So I don't want to, you know, shut them down in any way. It's, I think, a good thing and I support it."
He repeated the denial on "Late Night with Seth Meyers", saying, "I think - well the ones I read were not accurate, but one of the things that I've learned is that this is a conversation that obviously needs to be had."