Two women who earlier this month accused “The Disaster Artist” star James Franco of alleged sexual improprieties detailed their grievances and offered a more nuanced view of the actor in a TV interview Tuesday.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan, 26, who took acting classes taught by Franco and appears in his upcoming film “The Long Home,” said on “Good Morning America” that “James is absolutely not a Harvey Weinstein,” the producer fired from his company in October following reports documenting decades of alleged sexual abuse. Calling Franco, 39, “a very talented and valuable person,” she nonetheless maintained that, “He created exploitative environments for noncelebrity women on his sets.”
While taking his class, titled Sex Scenes, she said, “There were a lot of scenes that were added after we were given the original scripts that . . . I wished I had more time to consider them or understand the artistic value of them. . . . A lot of the time they seemed gratuitous and exploitative.” Women who chose not to participate were “asked to leave or just not asked to be in any of the projects.”
Asked where Franco falls on the spectrum of sexual exploitation, Tither-Kaplan described, “a pyramid, and at the top is rape and sexual violence and at the bottom are the other abuses of power that, when they continue to happen over and over, build and build and build and create a culture that allows the most heinous examples of sexual violence and misogyny and discrimination to happen. And, so, if we allow any of them, we’re allowing all of them.”
Violet Paley, 23, conceded that her having been in a consensual relationship with Franco complicated matters. “I am regretful,” she said Tuesday. “I was young. He was a celebrity that I looked up to.” Asked what she would like to say to him, she responded, “A lot of things, but please just apologize.”
Tither-Kaplan said she would like to see Franco “using his power to give opportunities to women that are real and valuable and actually give them career advancement, Y’know,” she concluded, “he’s not an unforgivable person, at least for me.”
Franco’s spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a Newsday request for comment. The actor’s attorney has previously disputed the allegations, and Franco told late-night host Stephen Colbert earlier this month, “The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice, because they didn’t have a voice for so long.”