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Film

What happened to James Franco?

@Russellisation

There was a point in time when there was no bigger name in the world of Hollywood than James Franco, the Oscar-nominated American actor that collaborated on several occasions with the beloved comedian Seth Rogen. Working with each other on multiple projects, including This Is the End, Pineapple Express and The Interview, the duo became real-life friends as well as icons of the contemporary industry, remodelling modern comedy to fit their hilarious, often puerile standards. 

By around 2018, however, eight years after his Oscar nomination for the Danny Boyle movie 127 Hours, James Franco became something of an industry outcast, with all comedy collaborations coming to an end with a dull thud. 

The nature of this career roadblock came to light in January 2018, when several allegations of sexual misconduct were made against the actor by former pupils of his acting school, ‘Studio 4’. Such was made clear three years later in June 2021 when the actor agreed to pay $2,235,000 to resolve a lawsuit made against him, alleging that he encouraged his students into performing explicit sex acts on camera. 

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Filing the lawsuit in October 2019, former students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, the suit described how Franco “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behaviour towards female students by sexualising their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects,” as stated in the suit. 

Responding to this court case, Franco spoke on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Podcast in December 2021, where he told the host: “Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong”. Continuing, he adds, “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”. 

Putting his behaviour down to, in part, his drug addiction, Franco further told the podcast, “I’ve just been doing a lot of work… 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”. Despite facing such struggles, Franco’s predatory behaviour rightly saw him discarded from mainstream Hollywood, with his longtime collaborator Seth Rogen also cutting ties with the actor and close friend. 

Publicly distancing himself from Franco, Rogen told The Times back in May 2021 that he had no plans to work with the actor again, refusing to delve deep into his relationship with his Pineapple Express co-star. “What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment,” Rogen told the publication, adding, “I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that”. 

Despite being widely disowned by Hollywood in addition to many of his former co-stars, Franco remains defiant, however, with the actor due to return to the mainstream in the near future with his directorial effort The Long Home, where he also stars. Building a strong supporting cast that includes the likes of Josh Hartnett, Giancarlo Esposito, Lio Tipton, Josh Hutcherson, Ashton Kutcher and Tim Blake Nelson, time will tell if Franco will be able to resurrect himself from ruin and return to the height of his previous career.

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