Shortly after James Franco picked up his Best Actor Golden Globe for The Disaster Artist (which he also directed), Twitter lit up, accusing the actor, who was wearing a “Time’s Up” pin in solidarity with survivors of sexual harassment, of being a hypocrite because of his troubling record with women. Since Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony, The New York Times has canceled an event with Franco to discuss The Disaster Artist and Stephen Colbert asked him about the allegations on his show. The Globes aren’t always a surefire indicator of who will win the Oscar, but in the time of accountability and the #MeToo movement, Franco’s past could tank his Oscar chances, possibly making way for someone like Call Me by Your Name’s rising star Timothée Chalamet to take home the Academy Awards' Best Actor prize.
Last year, Academy voters handed Casey Affleck the Best Actor Oscar for Manchester by the Seadespite the revelation of court documents proving he’d settled two sexual harassment suits while making his 2010 passion project I’m Still Here. Some stories were written about the alarming details of sexual misconduct found in the documents, but the mainstream press largely ignored the icky business of reporting on an accused sexual predator. It wasn’t until Oscar night when Brie Larson, an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, begrudgingly handed Affleck his award while also leading a silent protest from the stage by refusing to applaud his win.
Even Affleck, who was draped in adulation a year ago, hasn’t escaped this awards season unscathed considering that just a month after the Weinstein story broke, independent director Cameron Bossert circulated a petition to ban Affleck from this year’s Oscars since protocol dictates that a prior year’s Best Actor winner typically presents to the new Best Actress and vice versa.
Even as Franco walked the Golden Globes red carpet brandishing his “Time’s Up” pin (the legal defense fund set up by several high-powered women in the entertainment industry to ensure survivors of harassment and abuse across industries have the financial means and infrastructure to take legal action against their oppressors), women on Twitter accused him of hypocrisy and worse, including actress Ally Sheedy, who starred in an off-Broadway play Franco directed in 2014. Sheedy (High Art, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire) posted several tweets about him, including one saying men like Franco are part of the reason she left the entertainment industry, although she later deleted it.
Addressing the Twitter backlash against Franco’s appearance at the Globes and his win, he told Colbert that he supports and believes in the “Time’s Up” movement. “I was so excited to win but being in that room was incredible. It was powerful and there were incredible voices. I support it. I support change,” Franco said.
But he stopped short of commenting on specific allegations from one Twitter user who accused him of forcing her head toward his exposed penis while in a car and of trying to pick up her 17-year-old friend. If the accusations from a mostly unknown Twitter user of whom fans of Franco demanded she prove the allegations aren’t damning enough, an Instagram exchange from 2014, in which Franco knowingly attempted to meet up with a 17-year-old at a hotel, has resurfaced.
Another Twitter user wrote that for $100 per day he demanded full nudity of her on a film set due to what he said was a contractual obligation.
Still, on Colbert's show, he spoke eloquently about his belief in the movement, although he denied the accusations against him, even going so far to say that he didn’t understand Sheedy’s beef with him because he’d had a “great time” working with her.
“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,” Franco said.
Franco, long a darling of gay men, has played queer in several films, including Milk, Howl, andKing Cobra. Additionally, Franco co-directed Interior. Leather Bar, which reimagines the lost 40 minutes of the polarizing 1980 film Cruising; he’s been on the cover of Out; and he’s been quoted as saying, “I’m a little gay and there’s a gay James,” although he clarified that he does not have sex with men.
In a real dramatic twist for awards season, sexual harassment allegations from women against a man who's made a career out of marketing himself to the gay community may open the door for 22-year-old Chalamet, whose performance in the gay-themed love story Call Me by Your Namehas been universally praised.
Watch Franco on Colbert below.