“I was completely blind to power dynamics” James Franco speaks out

‘I was completely blind to power dynamics’: James Franco responds to sexual misconduct allegations


After years of silence, James Franco has opened up about his struggles with sex addiction, substance abuse, and the sexual misconduct allegations made against him by former students of his acting school.

In 2018, Los Angeles Times reported on the allegations made by five women against Franco, then 39, of inappropriate and sexually exploitative behaviour. 

In a rare interview with entertainment journalist Jess Cagle on SiriusXM’s “The Jess Cagle Show”, Franco responded publicly to the sexual misconduct allegations. 

“Why did you want to sit down today?” Cagle began.

“In 2018 there were some complaints about me and an article about me and at that moment I just thought, I’m gonna be quiet, I’m gonna be, I’m gonna pause,” Franco said. “Did not seem like the right time to say anything.”

“There were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen.”

He mentioned Australian philosopher, Damon Young, before launching into the ways his philosophy helped him think during this time:

“The natural human instinct is to just make it stop. You just want to get out in front of it and whatever you have to do… apologise, you know, get it done.”

“But what that doesn’t do is allow you to do the work, and to look at what was underneath, like, whatever you did… there’s probably an iceberg underneath that, of behaviour, of patterning, of just being blind to yourself that isn’t gonna just be solved overnight.”

“I’ve just been doing a lot of work,” the California-born actor said, adding that he was in recovery for four years 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, and changing who I was.”

Franco revealed that has been battling sex addiction and has been seeking treatment for it since 2016.

“It’s such a powerful drug,” he said. “I got hooked on it for 20 more years. And the insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time.”

“I went to meetings all that time. I even tried to sponsor other people. And 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.”

He added that he was “completely blind to power dynamics… but also completely blind to people’s feelings. I didn’t wanna hurt people… [but] the behaviour spun out to a point where it was like I was hurting everybody.”

The interview also broached Franco’s relationship with longtime friend and frequent co-star Seth Rogen, who told the Sunday Times in May that he had no intention of working with Franco. 

“What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that,” Rogen said.

When he was asked about the nature of their friendship, Rogen said, “I don’t know if I can define that right now during this interview. I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic.”

“I absolutely love Seth Rogen,” Franco said in his latest interview. “A lot of people come up to me like… I love Seth Rogen. I worked with him for 20 years.”

“We didn’t have one fight for 20 years. Not one fight. He was my absolute closest work friend, collaborator,” says Franco of Rogen. 

“And we just gelled and what he said is true, we aren’t working together right now and we don’t have any plans to work together,” Franco continued. 

“Of course, it was hurtful in context but I get it. He had to answer for me because I was silent. He had to answer for me and I don’t want that. So that’s why it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to talk to you today: I don’t want Seth or my brother or anyone to have to answer for me anymore.”

Franco also talked about his relationship with girlfriend of four and a half years Isabel Pakzad and described the ways he used his fame “as a lure.”

He responded to a 2019 lawsuit targeting his now-defunct acting school, Studio 4, saying that teaching an acting class he titled “Sex Scenes”, was “one of the stupidest things” he did. 

“It was not about sex scenes. It was a provocative title,” he said.

In July, Franco agreed to pay $2.2m (AUS$2.8m) to settle a legal case against him made by two students who attended Franco’s school. 

Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal alleged the actor engaged in “sexually-charged behaviour towards female students” and sued their former teacher in October 2019. 

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