The number of women who have accused actor James Franco of sexual misconduct has now gone up to five, overshadowing his Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards wins. The allegations first surfaced when Franco won his maiden Golden Globe for The Disaster Artist where, like many other stars in Hollywood, he showed up wearing the ‘Time’s Up’ pin.
The ‘Time’s Up’ campaign was launched by powerful Hollywood women to fight against sexual harassment in wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. “It (Time’s Up pin on Franco) was like a slap in my face,” Sarah Tither-Kaplan, a former acting student at the film school Franco founded, told the Los Angeles Times.
Tither-Kaplan who went on to appear in several of his productions is one of five women who has accused the 39- year-old actor of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior. Of the five women, four were Franco’s students from an acting school that he ran for a while. The fifth accuser called him her mentor.
They said they thought Franco, who has substantial star power in Hollywood, could help them in their careers and acquiesced to his wishes even when they were uncomfortable. “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,” said Tither-Kaplan, who was one of many women who took to Twitter to criticise Franco’s Globes win and his ‘Time’s Up’ pin. Tither-Kaplan says a topless scene that filmed for a class assignment was uploaded to online video site Vimeo.
Two other students said Franco became angry during a class assignment when no women, while at the shoot at a strip club, agreed to go topless. Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, denied the allegations against the actor, who had defended himself by calling the claims “not accurate” during an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Violet Paley, who was among the firsts to accuse Franco, said during a consensual relationship, he once pressured her to perform oral sex in a car and that the “power dynamic was really off”.
Franco told Colbert that while the allegations against him were not true, he does not want to shut them down in any way.