James Franco breaks silence on sexual misconduct allegations, alcohol and sex addiction

The '127 Hours' actor settled lawsuits from women who accused him of inappropriate behavior at his acting school

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James Franco sat down for a tell-all interview for the first time in almost four years and addressed not only the sexual misconduct allegations made against him in 2018 but his addiction to alcohol and sex. 

The actor, 43, spoke with Jess Cagle on his Sirius XM radio show about how he's changed and what he's learned about himself. 

"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.' Did not seem like the right time to say anything," Franco explained. "There were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen. There's a writer Damon Young and he talked about when something like this happens, 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 apologize, you know, get it done. But what that doesn't do is allow you to do the work to, and to look at what was underneath."

Franco was accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by five women in an article published by The Los Angeles Times in January 2018. Four of the women who came forward were students of Franco in his acting school, Playhouse West Studio 4. Franco started it in 2014 and it closed in 2017.

JAMES FRANCO ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT BY 5 WOMEN

Sarah Tither-Kaplan, one of the women, alleged later on "Good Morning America" that Franco abused his celebrity power by "exploiting the non-celebrity women that he worked with under the guise of giving them opportunities." 

Tither-Kaplan and another student Toni Gaal filed a sexual misconduct lawsuit against Franco and the school in Oct. 2019. Their lawsuit said Franco pushed his students into performing in increasingly explicit sex scenes on camera in an "orgy type setting" that went far beyond those acceptable on Hollywood film sets.

It alleged that Franco "sought to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education," and that students were led to believe roles in Franco's films would be available to those who went along.

In June 2021, Franco paid $2,235,000 to settle sexual misconduct lawsuit.

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"I've just been doing a lot of work," the "127 Hours" star told Cagle. "I guess I'm pretty confident in saying like, four years, you know? I was in recovery before 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 changing who I was."

Director and star James Franco was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women.

Director and star James Franco was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. (REUTERS/Mike Blake )

Franco then spoke about his sex addiction and his realization he had a problem with alcohol which started at a young age. 

"[Sex] such a powerful drug," he said. "I got hooked on it for 20 more years. The insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time. And I went to meetings all that time. I even tried to sponsor other people. 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."

JAMES FRANCO'S ACTING SCHOOL ACCUSED OF SEXUALLY EXPLOITING 2 WOMEN

"Even my sponsor was like, you know, who's happily married. He was like, ‘look, whatever happens,’ but, you know, because I'd had girlfriends. I could never be faithful to anybody. So I cheated. I cheated on everyone before Isabel [Pakzad] and he's like, ‘look, the cheating is dishonest. I don't think that's good for your sobriety, but if you're not dating someone and you wanna go and hook up, like whatever happens between two consenting adults is fine.’ Like that's what he said. The problem was. I took that and I ran with it and used it as an excuse to, you know, just hook up all over the place."

James Franco and his current girlfriend Isabel Pakzad in 2019.

James Franco and his current girlfriend Isabel Pakzad in 2019. (Taylor Hill/WireImage)

Franco said he's been in recovery for sex addiction since 2016 but admitted to Cagle, "I did sleep with students."

"Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong. But like I said, it's not why I started the school and I wasn't the person that selected the people to be in the class. So it wasn't a 'master plan' on my part. But yes, there were certain instances where, you know what, I was in a consensual thing with a student and I shouldn't have been."

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He later added of his past thinking, "At the time I was not clearheaded, as I've said. So I guess it just comes down to my criteria was like, 'If this is consensual, like, I think it's cool. We're all adults so….' "

Franco admitted he slept with students of his acting school.

Franco admitted he slept with students of his acting school. (Reuters)

It's a change in tune since the last time Franco spoke out was to deny the allegations while making an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s "Late Show" in January 2018.

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"I pride myself in taking responsibility for the things I’ve done," Franco said that time but insisted that the accusations are "not accurate."

Nevertheless, Franco insisted that he supports women being able to come out and "have a voice."