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James Franco Breaks Silence on Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Seth Rogen Split

"He was my absolute closest work friend, collaborator," Franco says of Rogen, adding that "he had to answer for me because I was silent.”

FILE - James Franco arrives at IndieWire Honors on Nov. 2, 2017, in Los Angeles. Franco and his co-defendants have agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging he intimidated students at an acting and film school he founded into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations. The sides reached an agreement in February, but the details and dollar amount were not revealed until Wednesday, June 30 2021. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

James Franco

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

Six months after friend and longtime collaborator Seth Rogen publicly severed ties with James Franco over sexual misconduct allegations against the “127 Hours” Oscar nominee, Franco has broken his silence on their creative split and the allegations. The actor opened up on SiriusXM’s “The Jess Cagle Podcast” this week (via People), admitting to sleeping with his students and to undergoing addiction treatment.

“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,” he said.

Franco has been plagued by accusations of sexual misconduct dating as far back as 2014, when a 17-year-old girl shared screenshots of messages exchanged between her and Franco, then 35, that showed him trying to arrange a meeting in a hotel room. Franco confirmed the messages and apologized. In 2018, the Los Angeles Times published an exhaustive report of five women accusing Franco of sexual misconduct at his acting school, Studio 4.

He added regarding the behavior at his acting school, “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….'”

In June of this year, James Franco agreed to pay $2,235,000 to resolve the sexual misconduct lawsuit that alleged he pushed his acting students into performing explicit sex scenes on camera, according to court filings made public June 30. Former acting students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed the lawsuit in October 2019. The suit stated that Franco and his partners “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.”

Franco told Cagle that, in the meantime, “I’ve just been doing a lot of work, and 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.”

Franco also addressed comments from Rogen, who cut ties with the actor back in May, adding that he had no plans to work with Franco again.

“I just want to say, I absolutely love Seth Rogen. I love Seth Rogen,” said Franco. “I worked with him for 20 years and we didn’t have one fight. For 20 years, not one fight. He was my absolute closest work friend, collaborator. We just gelled… What he said is true. We aren’t working together right now and we don’t have any plans to work together. Of course, it was hurtful in context, but I get it, you know, he had to answer for me because I was silent. He had to answer for me and I don’t want that. And so that’s why, you know, it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to talk to you today is I just, I don’t want Seth or my brother [Dave Franco] or anyone to have to answer for me anymore.”

Rogen and Franco had worked together on projects including “Freaks and Geeks,” “The Pineapple Express,” “The Interview,” “This Is the End,” and more.

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