After a few allegations of sexual misconduct, James Franco is facing new scrutiny for a story he previously wrote about picking up young girls. According to IndieWire, a short story in Franco's 2013 novel Actor's Anonymous focuses on an actor who picks up a college-aged woman at the Toronto International Film Festival. While the story is believed to be fiction — the book is filled with "short stories, personal anecdotes, and poems" — some on Twitter believe the story is similar to not only something Franco has admitted to in the past, but a recent allegation against him. (Franco already claimed the aforementioned misconduct allegations were "not accurate" during an interview with Stephen Colbert; Bustle reached out to his rep for comment on this additional backlash.)
Entertainment Weekly writer Mary Sollosi tweeted a passage from Actor's Anonymous that has Franco writing about how he — or, as IndieWire pointed out, a narrator that closely resembles Franco — used to pick up women after movie screenings. In the book, Franco reportedly writes:
“One of my favorite approaches was to ask young girls that requested to take a photo with me to email me a copy of the photo; that way I can give them my info very quickly in front of a crowd of fans and later work out a way to see them. Usually this happens at an event, which means I am usually away from home, so I have girls all over the world. Usually they are ready when I go back to that city, whether it is Rome, Portland, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Asheville, or D.C.”
In another passage that Sollosi tweeted, Franco writes about meeting an "okay-looking" student, who he calls Barbara, at a TIFF screening of his film 127 Hours in 2010. She asks for a photo, so he asks her to email it to him. He isn't able to meet up with her that night — "I had already spent the night with a Princeton student who was volunteering at the festival” — but he does keep in touch. Not just with her, but with the Princeton student and a Berkeley student.
This anecdote, which may or may not be true, ends with Franco detailing his meeting with Barbara, who eventually comes to visit him in New York City. He writes:
“In the intervening months she had sent me plenty of photos of her body and especially her ass bent over in a G-string, so when she arrived at my Lower East Side apartment, I was ready and she was ready. Not only did she allow me to do everything I wanted to her, she let me film it on my phone.”
It's unclear if the story Franco penned is fact or fiction. In a 2013 interview withVanity Fair, Franco said while the book is narrated by an actor named "James Franco," it shouldn't be assumed that these stories are all true. "If I’d wanted to write a book about my feelings on Hollywood," he said. "I would have just written a memoir."
But it's understandable if you're wondering if this particular story is true, being that Franco previously admitted to trying to pick up an underage girl on Instagram. In 2014, a year after the release of Actor's Anonymous, Franco tried to hook-up with a 17-year-old girl, who he had met while he was starring on Broadway in Of Mice And Men, using the app.
The next day, Franco appeared on Live With Kelly and Michael where he admitted he was "embarrassed" and used "bad judgment" when reaching out to the girl. "I guess I'm just a model of how social media is tricky," he said at the time. "In my position, not only do I have to go through the embarrassing rituals of meeting someone, but sometimes it gets published for the world."
Franco had brought up the incident himself while on the show to promote his movie Palo Alto, based on his 2010 short story collection, in which he played a soccer coach hitting on a teenage player.
New allegations were again published after Franco won Best Actor at the Golden Globes this past weekend. Actor Violet Paley accused Franco of sexual misconduct, specifically asking him on Twitter, "Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis?"
While Paley later tweeted that she was not underage when that alleged incident happened, she did raise another allegation, asking Franco if he remembered "that other time you told my friend to come to your hotel when she was 17? After you had already been caught doing that to a different 17 year old?"
On the Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Franco addressed these allegations, which also included one from actor Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who accused Franco of paying her $100 for full nudity in two of his films and allegedly telling her it "wasn't exploitative because I signed a contract to do it." (Ally Sheedy, who Franco directed in the 2014 off-Broadway play The Long Shrift, implied on Twitter that Franco is the reason she quit acting, adding the #MeToo hashtag. She reportedly later deleted the tweets without giving detail to her accusations.)
When speaking to Colbert, Franco said that these accusations were "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." He also said, "In my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done," adding that, "whenever I know that there is something wrong or needs to be changed, I make it a point to do it."
After hearing Franco's statement on Colbert and reading the passages from Actor's Anonymous, fans might be left with more questions than answers. Questions that Franco will likely be asked to elaborate on throughout this upcoming awards season.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.