James Franco was riding high on Sunday night, scoring a Golden Globe for his acclaimed turn in "The Disaster Artist," a behind-the-scenes comedy he also directed. It was a career peak for Franco, who took to the stage at the Beverly Hilton wearing a pin honoring the fight against sexual misconduct.
Ally Sheedy, co-star of "The Breakfast Club," fired off a series of cryptic tweets that evening — since deleted — in which she appeared to take aim at Franco, who stars in "The Disaster Artist" as eccentric cult-movie hero Tommy Wiseau.
"James Franco just won," Sheedy tweeted, per screenshots taken by several media outlets. "Please never ever ask me why I left the film/tv business." (Franco directed Sheedy in a 2014 off-Broadway production of "The Long Shrift.")
It was not clear exactly what Sheedy meant in her posts. But they nonetheless went viral, inspiring days of social media chatter and reviving rumors of alleged sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior.
Amid the furor, The New York Times canceled an event at which Franco and his younger brother, Dave, were slated to promote "The Disaster Artist." And the accusations could jeopardize the elder Franco's path to an Oscar nomination. (He was previously nominated for his performance in "127 Hours.")
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Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes , 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!
Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco. Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis & 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?
Sarah Tither-Kaplan, a filmmaker and actress, claimed in a tweet that Franco told her the "full nudity" he purportedly asked her to do for two of his movies was not exploitative because she had signed a contract.
Violet Paley, another actress, alleged in a tweet that Franco once pushed her head toward his "exposed penis." In a subsequent tweet, Paley claimed Franco offered her and "a few other girls" an apology — which Paley said she does not accept.
In an April 2014 appearance on "Live! With Kelly and Michael," Franco acknowledged the text message exchange:
"I'm embarrassed, and I guess I'm just a model of how social media is tricky," he said at the time. "It's a way people meet each other today, but what I've learned — I guess because I'm new to it — is you don't know who's on the other end. I used bad judgement, and I learned my lesson."
"They make it out like I'm pursuing young women," Franco told Stern. "I'm not going to high schools looking for dates."
In the same interview, Stern said some people thought the incident was "promotion" for "Palo Alto," a 2014 independent film in which Franco plays a high school soccer teacher who has sex with a student, played by Emma Roberts. (The film was adapted from a short story collection written by Franco.)
In his interview with Colbert on Tuesday night, Franco vowed to make amends for his alleged conduct. "If there's restitution to be made, I will make it," Franco said. "I'm here to listen and learn and change my perspective where it's off."