The MeToo movement has been a watershed moment in Hollywood and now it’s pulled the curtain back on the problematic behaviour another famous celebrity: James Franco is getting sued for “harassment’ and “sexual exploitation.”
As reported by The New York Times, two women, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who attended James Franco’s now-shuttered acting school, Studio 4, have filed a lawsuit against the actor alleging he and his partners “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualising their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.”
It is alleged the “often young and inexperienced” women who attended Franco’s class were often “pressured” to perform simulated sex scenes that went beyond industry standards. Ms. Tither-Kaplan says not only was she often asked to appear in nude or sex scenes, she alleges Franco removed the plastic guards that covered actresses’ vaginas while he simulated oral sex on them.
Furthermore, prospective students for the actor’s sex scene class had to film an “audition” video – so he can review later – as well as sign away the rights to the recordings. The two women claim this pattern of behaviour led to an “environment of harassment and sexual exploitation” that took place “both in and out of the class.”
We shouldn’t be too surprised that James Franco is the latest victim of the MeToo movement given his history of reported problematic behaviour and alleged sexual exploitation.
In 2018, Tither-Kaplan and four other women spoke with the The Los Angeles Times about Franco’s behaviour and their claims of sexual misconduct is broadly similar to the instances outlined by The New York Times.
This story gained considerable attention at the time and was further bolstered when Tither-Kaplan and Violet Paley, one of the four women who spoke up about the actor’s alleged misconduct to the LA Times, tweeted about Franco after he appeared at the Golden Globes wearing a “Time’s Up” pin.
Going back even further, there was a pretty dodgy incident in 2014 when Franco was caught exchanging messages with a 17-year-old girl and later admitted he was trying to pick her up.
While Franco has publicly supported women’s rights and the MeToo movement when appearing at awards shows and on talk shows, Tither-Kaplan says she hasn’t seen any effort from the actor to learn or change his perspective.
“I can’t sleep at night knowing that my coming forward, originally, did not do the work that I wanted it to do yet.
“There still has been no action, publicly, that shows me that these people know what they did is wrong and harmful and can’t been repeated.”
Representatives for James Franco have yet to respond to the allegations outlined in the lawsuit at the time of writing.