The shady side of James Franco

James Franco has been celebrated ever since he won a Golden Globe for The Disaster Artist (2017). Before then, he's been widely lauded as an eccentric artist himself who's ahead of his time and talented enough to justify just how, well, weird he is. But Franco isn't just unusual. He's also pretty shady, and no amount of acting accolades can quite compensate for some of his bad behavior.

He was accused of sexually harassing a teenage girl

Shortly after winning an award at the 2018 Golden Globes, Franco was hit with allegations of major misconduct. 

"Cute #TimesUp pin James Franco," actress Violet Paley tweeted during the 2018 Golden Globes (recapped by Radar Online). In the tweet, Paley accused Franco of trying to coerce her into oral sex in a car, as well as trying to lure Paley's 17-year old friend to his hotel room. 

Paley added two days later, "A couple weeks ago, James offered me & a few other girls an overdue, annoyed, convenient phone 'apology.' I don't accept, but maybe some other people's lives would be made easier if he donated all of his earnings from The Disaster Artist to @RAINN01."

Franco has yet to publicly comment on Paley's allegations specifically–but that wasn't the only criticism he received via Twitter that night.

Ally Sheedy called out his Golden Globes win

Ally Sheedy, most famous for her role of Allison Reynolds in The Breakfast Club (1985), was furious about the win. Sheedy, who starred in The Long Shrift, a play Franco directed in 2014, tweeted during the Golden Globes ceremony (via Vanity Fair), "James Franco just won. Please never ever ask me why I left the film/TV business." She added, "Ok wait. Bye. Christian Slater and James Franco at a table on @goldenglobes. #MeToo … Why is a man hosting? Why is James Franco allowed in?"

As of press time, Sheedy had deleted her tweets and never expounded on what exactly happened to make her feel that way.

He was accused of being sketchy about nude scenes

Also following Franco's Golden Globes win, an actress named Sarah Tither-Kaplan called the actor out for his allegedly sketchy practices on unnamed independent films.

"Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes, remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn't exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times up on that," Tither-Kaplan tweeted.

She followed with, "Hey James Franco, now that you have a Golden Globe why don't you give speaking roles that don't require nudity in your upcoming films to the dozens of women who have done full nudity + sex scenes in your indie films and art projects? Tither-Kaplan added "Tbt to me speaking up for myself and other women on a franco set and immediately getting called a diva, told I was 'out of line', and publicly humiliated by the producer."

Franco hasn't commented on Tither-Kaplan's allegations, either. But he has responded to the wave of accusations that hit during the awards show…though not in any meaningful sort of way…

He acted dumbfounded at the sexual harassment allegations against him

When asked about the allegations on Jan. 10, 2018, he told Stephen Colbert, "I want to say that I do support [Time's Up] … It was powerful. I support change." In terms of the allegations against him, he said, "There were some things on Twitter, I haven't read them. I've heard about them."

In response to Ally Sheedy's tweets, Franco said, "I have no idea what I did to Ally Sheedy … I had nothing but a great time with her. I have total respect for her. I have no idea why she was upset. She took the tweet down … I can't speak for her."

He continued, "In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I've done. I have to do that to maintain my well-being. I do it whenever I know that there's something wrong that needs to be changed, I make it a point to do it … The things that I heard 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. So I don't want to shut them down in any way … I can't live if there's restitution to be made. If I've done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to. I don't know what else to do. As far as the bigger issue of how we do it, I really don't have the answers. I think the point of this whole thing is that we listen."

Of course, this was far from the first time Franco's been accused of impropriety with women.

He once tried picking up another 17-year-old girl

In April 2014, The Daily Mail reported that James Franco attempted to pick up a 17-year-old girl—who he knew was 17. In a screencapped Instagram conversation, after meeting the cute blonde outside the stage door of his Broadway production of Of Mice And Men, Franco asked the girl, a Scottish tourist named Lucy Clode, if she had a boyfriend and if she was 18. She told him she was still 17, but he continued to pursue her, despite being 35 years old himself. Franco asked Clode for her phone number and hotel information, even asking if he should book a room. Clode politely rebuffed him, as she was vacationing with her mother at the time of the incident.

Franco appeared on Live! With Kelly And Michael the following morning, where he issued a half-apology.

"I was feeling awkward … I'm embarrassed, and I guess I'm just a model of how social media is tricky," Franco lamented (via The Hollywood Reporter). "It's a way that people meet each other today, but what I've learned — I guess because I'm new to it — is you don't know who's on the other end. You get a feel for them, you don't know who you're talking to. I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson."

He acted like a victim after it went public

Just weeks after issuing his partial mea culpa for hitting up a 17-year-old, Franco acted like he was a victim of the ordeal.

"[The media] make it out like I am pursuing young women. I'm not going to high schools, you know, looking for dates," he whined to Howard Stern (via Page Six). "I'm leaving my work and they're coming there. So, I'm seeing attractive women. And, look, my fan base is, like, 17-year-old girls … to, you know, 30-year-old women. That's my biggest fan base."

He continued, "I saw her and she's saying on her page, 'Oh, I love James Franco' … Okay, well, you look interesting. I don't know how old you are. I was a gentleman. I said, 'Do you have a boyfriend?' And her response was, 'Not when you're around.' And that to me sounds like, okay, she's interested … My sense is it turned, like, bad on her, and now people wanna say, like, I victim-bashed her or something. Like, how is she a victim? I was, like anybody, just trying to meet somebody. It's just that my dirty s**t gets put out internationally."

Anyone else wondering why he didn't flirt with the 30-year-old women he says are into him?

After denying he looks for dates at high schools, he taught at a high school

Franco insisted that he wasn't going to high schools and looking for dates. But it made for poor optics, at best, when he decided to teach at a high school after the Lucy Clode incident. In September 2015, Franco announced that he'd be teaching a high school film class in Palo Alto, California, per The Hollywood Reporter.

He may have exploited Tommy Wiseau

Franco won a Golden Globe for playing Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist (2017) and had no problem with Wiseau tagging along the awards campaign trail, including an appearance with Franco on Jimmy Kimmel Live. But when Franco finally went to accept his trophy for his portrayal of the odd filmmaker, he physically blocked Wiseau from speaking into the microphone on stage with him.

"Nineteen years ago he was stuck in traffic, from the Golden Globes, he said to his best friend Greg," Franco said of Wiseau before launching into Wiseau's infamously baffling accent, "'Golden Globes, so what, I'm not invited. I know they don't want me, guy with accent, long hair, so I show them. I don't wait for Hollywood, I make my own movie.'" He added in his own voice, "I am very happy to share this moment with him today." 

But that rang hollow considering he'd just won an award for a movie he made based on Wiseau's life, and then basically snubbed him on stage in front of the world. Wiseau later told The Los Angeles Times that what he would have said, given the chance, was, "If a lot of people loved each other, the world would be a better place to live. See The Room, have fun, and enjoy life. The American Dream is alive, and it's real."

He threatened to sue over satire

The People's Improv Theater in New York City, a staple for comedic and improvisational performers, received a cease and desist letter from Franco's attorneys in July 2017 when the actor learned that they planned to host a production of a play called James Franco And Me. Kevin Broccoli, an actor and the playwright of the production, told The New York Times, "I'm not someone who's trying to get into legal entanglements by any means, but anyone who comes to see the show would see that it's totally satire and within fair use guidelines."

In the play, Broccoli's character waits in a hospital where his dying father resides when Franco, played by a different actor each night, comes to ruminate with him about life.

"The play is about mortality and making the most of what you have," Broccoli said. "I imagined that if anyone would be game for this it'd be [Franco] … I've always been kind of fascinated with him because of how much product he puts out."

He was sued for headbutting a photographer

In October 2016, a photographer sued Franco for allegedly headbutting him during a Lana Del Rey concert. According to documents obtained by TMZ, snapper David Tonnessen alleged that Franco "viciously charged" and headbutted him without provocation while Tonnessen took photos at Del Rey's performance at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles in 2014. What's more, Tonnessen claimed that Franco was "smiling, rather demonically," then had a "blank expression of joy on his face" when he allegedly knocked Tonnessen down.

He's accused of exploiting the LGBTQ community

In 2014, The Huffington Post reported that Franco called out Gawker for insinuating that he was gay and living with friend Scott Haze in a romantic relationship—but that didn't stop Franco from allegedly mocking the LGBTQ community often.

In 2016, he told New York Magazine, "There is a bit of overfocusing on my sexuality, both by the straight press and the gay press … But if your definition of gay and straight is who I sleep with, then I guess you could say I'm a gay c**k tease … Yeah, I'm a little gay, and there's a gay James." The same year, he conducted an interview between his "gay James" and "straight James," writing, "I'm gay to the point of intercourse."

Franco was accused of "making a mockery" of gay porn star Brent Corrigan in the film King Cobra (2016), which was reportedly based on Corrigan's life. Corrigan said of Franco's movie, "Not approved by me. It tells a story with contempt for queer culture & mockery for porn."

The Advocate compiled a list of homophobic moments in Franco pal Seth Rogen's films, and several scenes from The Interview (2014) and a scene from This Is The End (2013), in which they co-starred, made the cut, as did their Kimye parody "Bound 3."

New York Magazine reported that in a student film Franco directed called The Feast Of Stephen (2009), a boy is gang raped by other men, then smiles at the camera.

His 'art' is disgusting

Franco had an art show in New York City in 2010. What did it entail? New York Magazine reported that one video in the exhibition, called Masculinity And Me, featured monologues about rape, murder, and diarrhea, accompanied by close-ups of people urinating and defecating. Another short film, titled D**knose In Paris, featured Franco wearing a prosthetic–and very detailed–recreation of the male anatomy in place of his nose on his face. Because art.

He's cheap with his casts

In August 2013, Radar Online revealed that Franco basically expected actresses to appear in his film The Sound And The Fury (2014) for next to nothing just to have the opportunity to work with him. The casting call reportedly read,

"For those wanting to work with James, that in itself can be considered great currency. He is a fantastic director and quite loyal to his actors!! This story is both deep and rich!"

He can't take criticism

In April 2014, Franco starred in a Broadway production of Of Mice And Men. But while his performance was generally well-received, not every reviewer was impressed. The New York Times theater reviewer Ben Brantley wrote of Franco's performance, "Mr. Franco is often understated to the point of near invisibility … Though Mr. Franco musters a single, perfect tear for the play's tragic climax, I only came close to shedding one."

Instead of shaking it off and reveling in his good press from other outlets, Franco instead took a screencap of a positive review from Variety and captioned it on Instagram with (via Page Six), "Sadly the NYT and Ben Brantley have embarrassed themselves. Brantley is such a little b***h he should be working for Gawker.com instead of the paper of record. The theater community hates him, and for good reason, he's an idiot."

He may have gotten a professor fired

In December 2011, a New York University professor named José Angel Santana accused the prestigious college of firing him because he gave Franco a D in his "Directing The Actor II" class–and Santana claimed that the grade was so low because Franco rarely bothered showing up to class at all. Santana sued Franco for making "disparaging and inaccurate public statements" after he received the poor grade, but the suit was dismissed in April 2013 when Santana's legal team couldn't actually locate Franco to serve him with paperwork required to go to court, per The Hollywood Reporter.

"The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that's for sure," Santana told The New York Post. "The university has done everything in its power to curry favor with James Franco." Santana also alleged that Franco "bought" better grades from another professor, Jay Anania, by casting Anania in one of his productions that Anania also wrote and directed.

"In my opinion, they've turned the NYU graduate film degree into swag for James Franco's purposes, a possession, something you can buy," Santana said.

He was accused of stealing a screenplay idea

TMZ reported that in July 2014, Cyril Humphris, who owns the rights to author Charles Bukowski's autobiography, claimed in a lawsuit that he gave Franco the movie rights to Bukowski's autobiography in 2009, but that Franco hadn't put them to use by the time their deal expired a year later. Franco went on to produce, direct, and write the film Bukowski (2013), alleging in court documents of his own that he came up with the idea himself, not from Humphris' deal or Bukowski's autobiography, but from the author's other writings, and requested the suit be dismissed.

He dissed Lindsay Lohan for no reason

Franco was on the now-infamous list of Lindsay Lohan's former partners, which was leaked to tabloids in January 2014. In March 2014, Franco released a poetry book called Moving Pictures / Moving Sculptures: The Films Of James Franco, in which he mentioned Lohan in a poem about a starlet with whom he never went to bed. "I didn't write anything bad about [her]," Franco told Los Angeles Magazine. "And Lindsay herself has told lies about me with her people-she's-slept-with list! So I feel like what I said is much less than what she's said."

Even before Lohan's list was exposed to the world, though, Franco threw her under the bus, telling Howard Stern (via Us Weekly) in March 2013 that he'd rejected her previously. "I don't want to brag about it. I don't know how that got out," he said with no sense of irony whatsoever. "She was having issues even then, so you feel weird. Honestly, she was a friend. I've met a lot of people that are troubled and sometimes you don't want to do that."