James Franco has finally admitted that he struggled with sex addiction and slept with students of an acting school he previously ran, more than two years after they accused him of sexually exploiting them. Franco, 43, broke his silence on SiriusXM's "Jess Cagle Podcast" saying that he remained quiet so long because he knew he "needed to listen" and examine the "behavior" that he has been blind to.
The excerpts of the podcast were made available on Wednesday. The "This Is the End" actor said that he thought sleeping with students of his acting school, Studio 4, was acceptable because it was "consensual." However, he also said that he didn't start the acting school with the intention of luring female students.
Confessions of an Actor
Franco sounded honest while finally confessing having sex with his students. He said that while teaching, he "did sleep with students, and that was wrong". "Look, I'll admit I did sleep with students. I didn't sleep with anybody in [my 'Sex Scenes' class], but, over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students and that was wrong," Franco told Cagle.
"I suppose at the time, my thinking was if it's consensual, OK," he added in the SiriusXM podcast. "At the time I was not clearheaded," he added.
However, Franco also said that he didn't start the school with the intention of luring women and having sex with them. "But like I said, I, it's not why I started the school and I, I didn't, 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, with a student and I shouldn't have been," he explained.
The actor said that he has been trying to be sober and attending meeting to overcome alcohol addiction but at the same time he has been battling sex addiction for 20 years, cheating on "everyone" he dated before his current girlfriend Isabel Pakzad, whom he has been with since November 2017.
The remarks were Franco's first extended comments about accusations levelled against him nearly four years ago when the Los Angeles Times reported that five women had accused Franco of conduct they considered inappropriate.
In October 2019, former students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging Franco and other instructors of pressurizing students to get naked for auditions in exchange of movie roles that rarely materialized.
By engaging in "widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students," Franco created "an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation" at the school, the suit claims, according to a New York Times report.
The actor agreed this year to pay $2.2m to settle the 2019 civil lawsuit, according to documents filed in Los Angeles superior court. He has limited his public exposure since, until sitting down with the "The Jess Cagle Podcast" for an interview that will debut on December 23.
During Wednesday's podcast Franco said that he became a sex addict after he overcame alcohol addiction. "It's such a powerful drug," he said. "I got hooked on it for 20 more years. The insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time."
Franco co-hosted the Oscars ceremony in 2011 and was a nominee at the 2012 awards for his performance in "127 Hours".