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James Franco Addresses Sexual Assault Allegations on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

After winning a Golden Globe for his performance in The Disaster Artist while conspicuously sporting a “Time’s Up” pin promoting Hollywood’s new anti-sexual-harassment initiative, James Franco has found himself facing allegations of sexual misconduct. The actor and filmmaker faced criticism back in 2014 for allegedly encouraging a 17-year-old to meet him in his hotel room, but following his Golden Globes appearance on Sunday, new allegations have surfaced. First, actress Ally Sheedy, who Franco directed in an off-Broadway play, tweeted, then deleted, “James Franco just won. Please never ever ask me why I left the film/tv business.” Writer and actor Violet Paley was a lot more specific:

Paley, who added that “there are a lot more details that will be out soon,” also wrote that Franco had offered her an apology a few weeks back, which she didn’t accept:

Meanwhile, filmmaker and actress Sarah Tither-Kaplan tweeted that Franco had pressured her into performing nude in two of his films for exploitatively low pay:

Since Paley and Tither-Kaplan came forward, the New York Times has cancelled an event at which Franco was scheduled to discuss The Disaster Artist. But rather than pull an immediate disappearing act the way other actors facing sexual misconduct allegations have done, Franco went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to address the allegations directly. Or rather, he went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to talk about The Disaster Artist, and having done that, spent the last portion of his time on the show discussing the allegations.

Although Franco said he didn’t know what Ally Sheedy was referring to—“I have no idea why she was upset”—he denied the other accusations spreading on Twitter, telling Colbert, “The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate.”  Still, Franco did leave open the possibility that he was in the wrong, saying, “If there’s restitution to be made, I will make it. … If I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it.”

It’s a very strange interview for a number of reasons, first of all because Colbert shunted it to the end of the segment, after taking the time to rib Franco and his brother Dave for wearing the same suit. Franco looks uncomfortable throughout, but Colbert, rather than press him for details, asks if he has any ideas for ways to have a conversation about sexual harassment “that isn’t in social media,” as though social media were the problem. Given the conversation’s lack of specificity—which parts of which accusations are inaccurate?—it seems likely that the actor will be facing further questions as awards season continues. Here’s a transcript of Colbert’s exchange with Franco about the sexual misconduct allegations:

Colbert: Now, we’ve got to go here in a minute, but I do want to ask you something. And I mentioned backstage I wanted to talk to you about this and if you’re okay talking about it, I want to ask you about some criticism that you got on Golden Globes night. Because you were wearing a Time’s Up pin in support of the Time’s Up movement, which has been created by many powerful women in Hollywood to say that the time is up for the abuse, misuse of women both sexually and otherwise, not only in Hollywood but around the country. They’ve established a fund, a legal defense fund for women and men who are being abused in this way. You got criticized for wearing that. Do you know why? And what—do you have a response? Anything you want to say about that criticism?

Franco: Well, first I want to say that I wore it because I do support it. I was, you know—look, I was so excited to win, but being in that room that night was incredible. I mean, it was, it was powerful. And there were incredible voices. And I support it. I support change, I support 50-50 in 2020, which just means, you know, people that are underrepresented, women, people of color, people in the LGBT community get positions, leadership positions, that they fill all positions that they’ve been deprived of. I completely believe in that. That’s why I wore it. There were some things on Twitter.

Colbert: Today.

Franco: Yeah. I didn’t—I haven’t read them, I’ve heard about them. Okay, first of all, I have no idea what I did to Ally Sheedy. I directed her in a play Off-Broadway. I had nothing but a great time with her, total respect for her. I had no—I have no idea why she was upset; she took the tweet down. I don’t know. I can’t speak for her, I don’t know. The others, look. In my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for the 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 or needs to be changed. I make it a point to do it. 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. So I don’t want to, I don’t want to shut them down in any way. I think it’s a good thing, and it’s important.

Colbert: Well, is there something else that you think—some way to have this discussion that isn’t in social media? Is there some way to have this conversation that piggybacks on what’s happening in social media? Because when accusations happen—because for so long, accusations were not believed—when accusations happen that… in your case, you say that this is not an accurate thing for me. Do you have any idea of what the answer might be to come to some sense of what the truth is, so there can be some sort of reconciliation between people who clearly have different views of things? I mean, that’s a big question, but I don’t know how to leave, or to further this discussion.

Franco: I mean, like I said, if I, you know, I—I can’t, I can’t, the way I live my life, I can’t live—if there’s restitution to be made, I will make it. So if I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to. I mean, I think that’s how that, that works, I don’t know what else, I don’t know what else to do. I mean, I’m—as far as the bigger issues, you know, how we do it, I—look: I really don’t have the answers, and I think the point of this whole thing is we listen. There were, you know, incredible people talking that night. They had a lot to say. And I’m here to listen and learn and change my perspective where it’s off, and I’m completely willing, and I want to.

Colbert: Well, thank you for taking a moment to talk about it right now. Congratulations again.

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