Actor James Franco on Sunday night won a Best Actor award for his latest movie The Disaster Artist at Hollywood’s Golden Globe Awards. He thanked his co-stars, the other actors in his category, the man the movie was based on, filmmaker Tommy Wiseau. While he did so, a little pin on his lapel was distracting some viewers.
“Time is up,” the brooch read. Watching him speak, actress Violet Paley was furious.
“Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco,” she tweeted. “Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis an 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?”
Paley wasn’t the only one to voice disgust at the 39-year-old’s accolade via social media.
And now, speaking to Los Angeles Times, a total of five women have accused the actor and director of sexual harassment and exploitation.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, okay, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” aspiring actress and filmmaker Sarah Tither-Kaplan, 26, told The Times.
She is a former acting student at the school Franco founded, Studio 4. She said during filming in Franco’s Sex Scenes class, she appeared topless and later discovered the video had been uploaded to the video-sharing platform Vimeo. From there, she discovered her image had been shared to porn sites.
“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 told The Times.
In 2015, Franco asked Tither-Kaplan to play a prostitute in his film The Long Home. In May that year, Tither-Kaplan claims, the producer organised an orgy scene in which she was to appear fully nude in the background.
A handful of other women were selected to appear with Franco, who simulated performing oral sex on each of them, Tither-Kaplan said. But in each case, she said he removed a clear plastic guard that covered their vaginas — and continued to simulate the sex act with no protection.
Then, Tither-Kaplan said, she and her female co-stars were asked to appear topless in an unscripted scene and dance around Franco while wearing animal skulls atop their heads. One actress who balked was sent home the next day, Tither-Kaplan said.
“Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the Golden Globes,” Tither-Kaplan tweeted on Sunday night. “Remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn’t exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times up on that!”
Franco’s attorney Cynthia Huffman denies Tither-Kaplan’s claims and provided The Times with a statement from a casting director who worked on The Long Home, denying any of the women were made to feel uncomfortable.
Hilary Dusome and Natalie Chmiel, who took acting classes with Franco in 2012 at Playhouse West, said that after agreeing to shoot a jeans commercial for the actor, things turned sour.
As they stood on stage in their underwear and masks, Franco allegedly approached the actresses asking "So who wants to take their shirt off?" The women say that when no one obliged, he stormed off in anger.
"I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realised it was because I have nice [breasts], it was pretty clear that was not the case," Dusome told the publication.
Listen: The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss the Time's Up movement. (Post continues below...)
Katie Ryan, who was Franco's student at Playhouse West and then at Studio 4, said "he would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts."
She alleges that the 39-year-old frequently sent out mass emails to aspiring actresses, asking if they'd be willing to audition for roles such as prostitutes or hookers.
Franco's attorney, as well as administrators from both schools, have denied there was ever anything untoward in the actor's behaviour.
Finally 23-year-old Violet Paley, who met Franco in 2016 when he offered to help her with her script writing, claims Franco forced her to perform oral sex on him one evening in a car.
Her story, she says, is complicated by the fact she and The Disaster Artist actor were beginning a romantic relationship at the time of his alleged offence.
"I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out," said Paley. "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."
Feeling uncomfortable, Paley said she stopped the act by lying and saying she heard someone near the car. "The power dynamic was way off," she told The Times.
Though he's yet to respond to these most recent allegations, Franco told CBS' The Late Show on Tuesday those made on Twitter are inaccurate.
"If there's restitution to be made, I will make it," he told the show's host Stephen Colbert. "I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done."
"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."
His appearance on CBS came hours after The New York Times cancelled a public event with Franco scheduled for Wednesday, issuing a statement saying the cancellation was due to "the controversy surrounding recent allegations."
For the full Los Angeles Times report, read here.