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James Franco’s Studio 4 Accusers Call Him “Insensitive” After Podcast – The Hollywood Reporter

James Franco has reacted to numerous allegations of sexual misconduct made throughout his career, including at his now-defunct acting school Studio 4, on films. independently and while starring in a Broadway show.

In his recent appearance on SiriusXM‘S Jess Cagle’s Program, the actor spoke at length about the allegations made by former Studio 4 students, who settled with Franco for $2.2 million after a class action lawsuit alleging sexual exploitation and fraud. sex. Franco asserts that the main class involved in some of the lawsuit’s allegations – filed in 2019 by actresses Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal – has a “provocative” name but is unrelated to the does real sex scenes, even though it’s named “Sex Scenes”.

While Franco denies allegations of what happened during his “Sex Scenes” course, which included him forcing students to perform increasingly explicit sex scenes on camera “like orgy,” the attorneys representing his accusers in the class action responded to his statements. They asserted that the class was “not a misunderstanding of the course name” nor about him being overworked, but “despicable conduct”.

The statement went on to say that Franco was not only “blind as to the dynamics of power” but was “completely insensitive” to the pain and suffering his accusers experienced when he was “with the fake creation of an acting school.”

“It is unbelievable that even after agreeing to the settlement, he continues to downplay the survivors’ experiences and ignore their pain, despite acknowledging that he has no business. business in starting such a school in the first place,” said Valli Kane & Vagnini LLP and Hadsell, Stormer Renick & Dai LLP, the law firm representing Franco’s accusers in the lawsuit against him and the production company. production of his Rabbit Bandini Productions, said.

“No one should confuse this interview with Franco taking responsibility for his actions or expressing regret for what happened,” the statement continued. “It’s a transparent summary of the real issues released just before a big holiday in the hope that he won’t face any scrutiny over his response.”

In the podcast, admits to sleeping with a student and admits that other teachers made it clear “it’s probably not a fun thing.” However, he denied the two being in the class were involved in the class action. He also addressed the allegation that when he started Studio 4, he “seeked to create a group of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education.”

Franco calls this a “misconception” and argues that after years of teaching at elite and expensive graduate drama schools, he has opened his doors exclusively to those who cannot “afford the fees.” this program,” taught the same way he did at other institutions.

“I’m still a bit sane or things that I learn while sober and I think, it’s good for me to help other people,” he said, admitting at another point in the podcast that, “I didn’t start my own school business. ”

As for why Franco agreed to settle the lawsuit, he told Cagle: “I can’t say too much because the school’s insurance company settled that lawsuit, but some people feel that they’ve been ripped off. abuse, the insurance company and we all felt like the easiest thing to do was to deal with this. “

In addition to his problems with his now-closed school, during an hour-long conversation, Franco talked about a variety of issues related to his professional and personal behavior over the past decade, including what which Cagle calls “a type of interaction that is not appropriate for young women. ‘ Franco excited some of the action on an indie set that led to misconduct allegations that he had no experience handling sex scenes and nudity on a closed set where people could “feel safe”.

One allegation accused the actor of asking – or demanding – to be nude during scenes from the cast. Franco explains that this has nothing to do with the school, and instead has to do with “the production of a brothel in the 1940s”.

He said that there were a few times when on set the inspiration came and he decided to add an out of the box scene. “So what we did was, ‘Who wants to be in this scene?’ And then there will be volunteers and we will go and film it,” he explained, before noting that in deep awareness, a close coordinator could have worked out issues on the field. turn.

“Of course, people need to feel safe on set and they shouldn’t be put in this place where they feel like they’re paying to be in my movies or in a situation where they don’t feel safe, and they have no one,” said Franco, referring to both his on-screen and school dynamics.

Cagle asked Franco about those power dynamics several times, Franco repeatedly admitting that he should have seen them but hadn’t. That included a text exchange between a then 17-year-old fan while he was working on Broadway Rats & Men in 2014. He said that he and the girl first met outside the door of the stage, where he would “sign autographs and take selfies” after each performance before they talked on social media. about meeting before he “knows she’s only a few weeks over 18” and calls off.

It was something he said he shouldn’t have done before describing it as “very embarrassing” and saying that after their stage interaction, he “never saw that person again.”

But there are other allegations, according to Franco, where he has a much better understanding of what happened and which lines have or have not been crossed. That included an allegation that while filming an orgy scene in one of his indie projects, he removed the plastic protector the actresses were wearing and simulated sex with it. mouth on them.

“It just didn’t happen. I have never let my guard down against anyone – ever – in my life. It just didn’t happen,” he said, repeating his previous denial to the allegation. “That’s all I can say about it. We have footage that shows that never happened in that particular project. ”

Throughout the podcast, Franco links his behavior around the misconduct allegations with his history of addiction and his choice to keep working, taking on multiple projects and jobs, to his decision-making. ta. He did those things, he said, because “I didn’t want to be alone with myself,” but that behavior ultimately clouded his judgment. He also asserted that no one directly called him about his behavior.

“Maybe I didn’t create a safe environment where they could come and talk to me, but no one said anything to me,” he said. In fact, I have to say, it was confusing that I crossed a boundary at the time, not only because I didn’t even have a concept of intimate coordinates, but [there were] a lot of social media posts at the time from the people in the movie, it was literally the best experience ever.”

Disaster artist The star also discussed his decision to speak out citing the effect it has had on both those close to him and those who have worked with him, noting that he speaks out for his family. and friends had to answer for me. That includes longtime collaborator Seth Rogen, who has publicly shunned Franco following the allegations.

“What he said is the truth. We are not working together at the moment and we do not have any plans to work together,” said Franco. “Of course, it hurts in context, but I understand. He had to answer for me because I was silent.”

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