Actor James Franco has broken his silence about sexual misconduct allegations months after he paid $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by former acting students who accused him in 2019 of sexual harassment at his former acting school, Studio 4.
In an interview on SiriusXM’s “The Jess Cagle Podcast," which is scheduled to be released in its entirety Thursday, Franco, 43, blamed addiction — to work and sex — for his public struggles over the years.
“Once I couldn’t use alcohol to sort of fill that hole, it was like — oh, success? attention? This is great. And so, in a weird way, I got addicted to validation, I guess, or success, or whatever that is,” Franco told Cagle in a clip of the interview, which was shared in a series of YouTube videos SiriusXM posted Wednesday.
Representatives for Franco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In published clips of the interview, Franco relates his teenage struggle with alcoholism and his decision to become sober at 17 to what he variously describes as a struggle with an addiction to “success,” “attention” and “sex.”
“Attention from women, success with women, also became a huge source of validation for me,” Franco said. “The problem with that is like, I'm sure you can guess, like any sort of drug or anything, there’s never enough.”
He said he was first able to identify his experience after he got a book about sex and love addiction from his sister-in-law.
“When I read this book, it was like, it hit me like a bullet and was like: Oh, my God, that’s me,” Franco said. “It’s such a powerful drug, and I got hooked on it for 20 more years.”
Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal alleged in their suit in 2019 that Franco coerced them and other students at Studio 4 into filming overt sexual acts.
The suit accused Franco of seeking to “sexualize their power and fame by dangling the opportunity to aspiring actors of employment in film and television in exchange for explicit nudity, sex and as Franco put it, the ‘pushing of boundaries’” at Studio 4.
In the settlement, both sides released a statement in which Franco denied all allegations of misconduct.
“While Defendants continue to deny the allegations in the complaint, they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues; and all parties strongly believe that now is a critical time to focus on address the mistreatment of women in Hollywood,” said the joint statement, which was issued in June.
Franco on Wednesday denied an allegation that he used his acting school to create a “pipeline of young women” for exploitation “in the name of education,” saying he had consensual sex with students.
Franco said a decision to name one of his acting school courses “masterclass: sex scenes” was “one of the stupidest things I did,” describing it as a poor attempt to be “provocative.”
“I didn’t sleep with anybody in that particular class. But over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong,” Franco said.
Asked about the power dynamic between him and his students, Franco said his attitude at the time was “if this is consensual, I think it’s cool.”
Franco also addressed actor Seth Rogen’s announcement in May that he would no longer work with Franco.
“We aren’t working together right now, and we don’t have any plans to work together — of course, it was hurtful, you know, in context, but I get it,” Franco said. “He had to answer for me, because I was silent. 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.”