James Franco Reveals Sex Addiction & Opens Up About Sexual Misconduct Allegations For First Time In Nearly Four Years

James Franco has returned to the public eye.

The actor has been completely off the radar after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct in a piece published by the Los Angeles Times back in 2018. The controversy squashed his awards run for The Disaster Artist and effectively halted his career. At the time, he labeled the allegations inaccurate, but claimed he respected people “being able to have a voice” and didn’t want to “shut them down in any way.”

Now, nearly four years since the scandal, the Oscar nominee is finally opening up about the subject. He appeared on Jess Cagle’s show for SiriusXM in an in-depth interview where he discussed the allegations, his battle with addiction, and the state of his current relationships.

As for why he decided to speak up now, James explained:

“Well, in 2018, um, there were some complaints about me and an article about me and, um, at that moment I just thought I’m gonna be quiet. I’m gonna be, I’m gonna pause. Did not seem like the right time to say anything. There were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen.”

He continued:

“There’s a writer Damon Young, and he talked about, you know, when something like this happens, like the natural human instinct is to just make it stop. You just want to get out in front of it and whatever you have to do apologize, you know, get it done. But what that doesn’t do is allow you to do the work to… look at what was underneath, like, whatever you did … there’s probably an iceberg underneath that, of behavior, of patterning, of just being blind to yourself that isn’t gonna just be solved overnight.”

The Freaks and Geeks alum concluded:

“So I’ve just been doing a lot of work. And I guess I’m pretty confident in saying like, four years, you know? And, I was in recovery before, you know, for substance abuse. And, there were some issues that I had to deal with that were also related to addiction. And so I’ve, I’ve really used my, my recovery background to kind of start examining this and, and changing who I was.”

Scroll on for more from James’s first major interview in years.

Contents

Sex addiction

While James has been in recovery for alcohol addiction since he was a teenager, he apparently didn’t realize that the same behaviors were manifesting in other ways. He became addicted to validation through the success of his acting career, and eventually through success with women. He compared his behavior to “trying to fill that hole and it never gets filled”:

“It’s such a powerful drug. And I, I got hooked on it for 20 more years. And the insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time. So, and I went to meetings, you know, all that time. I even tried to, you know, sponsor other people. And so in my head, it was like, ‘oh, I’m sober. I’m living a spiritual life.’ Where on the side, I’m acting out now in all these other ways. And I couldn’t see it.”

He admitted that his “happily married” sponsor warned him about his excessive cheating, which occurred in almost every relationship he’s had (“I could never be faithful to anybody”). James recalled:

“He’s like, ‘look, the cheating is dishonest. I don’t think that’s good for your sobriety, but if you’re not dating someone and you wanna go and hook up, like whatever happens between two consenting adults is fine.’ Like that’s what he said. The problem was. I took that and I ran with it and used it as an excuse to, you know, just hook up all over the place. And it was like, well, we’re being honest here. Right?”

He added:

“I completely blind to power dynamics or anything like that, but also completely blind to people’s feelings. I didn’t wanna hurt people. And I, in fact, I wasn’t like really a one night stand guy. Like people that I, you know, got together with or dated, like I’d see them for a long time, years. It’s just that I couldn’t be present for any of them. And the behavior spun out to a point where it was like I was hurting everybody.”

He also shared:

“I’d been in recovery for a long time. Right. But I got sober really young. So like, I could identify with a lot in, in, you know, the alcohol literature, but like when I read this book , it was like, it hit me like a bullet. And it was like, ‘oh my God, that’s me.’ And up until that point, like as crazy as it is, like I had inklings like, okay, maybe this is an issue. My parents had stayed married their whole life. So like I respected marriage. And like, there had been a part of me even all through it, even at my craziest where it was like, well, ‘I want to, I wanna get married. I want to be in a serious relationship.’ I just, I didn’t know how, and after reading that book, it was like, ‘oh, this is an issue that I’m not gonna solve on my own.’”

Filling the void

Asked about giving his students at Studio 4 the care and attention they were expecting, the 43-year-old replied:

“I let a lot of people down. I let my students down, I let the – I hosted the Oscars. I let them down. I let my coworkers down on my movies.”

James remembered “multiple sets where I would fall asleep between takes,” as well as his overwhelming schedule flying between New York and LA to be on Broadway and teach at “four schools” on the west coast. He apparently viewed it as a “badge of courage” to be able to “do it all.” He connected part of his work addiction to his dad’s passing, reflecting:

“I don’t wanna turn this into a pity party or anything. But when I wanted to be an actor, my dad said ‘you’re being a fool.’ … And so after that, it was like… I loved acting, but another motivation was I have to prove him wrong. And then when he died, when I was 33, I realized it was like – and by the way, when he died, like before he died, we had had many talks and he was so supportive and everything… he didn’t think I was a fool anymore… – but I still had the Phantom dad that said, you’re a fool. And when he died, it was like, the world took that place. And all the critics and everyone took that place and it was like, ‘oh, I gotta prove them all wrong.’”

Months before the public scandal, the Pineapple Express star had an “intervention” of sorts with his business partner. He pointed out that the money had “dried up” for independent projects essentially because James was churning out too much content and wouldn’t take notes or critique from anyone. The performer shared:

“ story short, he read me all of that. And, uh, my brother was there and I, I just started crying. He showed my whole, you know, history of behavior with the past five years and was like this portrait of this guy who could not be alone with himself. He couldn’t, I couldn’t even go to sleep because I didn’t wanna be alone with myself for years. I slept on my couch because it was like, I fought sleep. I, I had to put guards on my laptops because I’d always fall asleep on my laptop and it would fall on the floor. So that’s exactly what it was.”

The intervention prompted him to take a break from working in the months leading up to the LA Times exposé. He said:

“I’ll keep working at it for the rest of my life. But like, at least it got me off that path that was never gonna end and would probably kill me. I like, I truly believe like if I kept going with my work addiction, I probably would’ve relapsed on alcohol. I remember somebody I knew that at that time had gone out after more than a decade and I had this flash in my head, it was just like, ‘oh, well maybe that’s, it’s looking good on him. Maybe that’s the answer.’ Fortunately, at that time, I, I still had enough sobriety under my belt. Like when that entered my head, I was like, ‘okay, maybe you gotta do something about this.’ You know.”

Using fame as a “lure”

Taking a break from working allowed James to see some of his own shortcomings, he revealed:

“And in those seven months, when I, I wasn’t working, I wasn’t dating, everything. It was like, ‘oh my God, I gotta get to know James.’ And it felt like I was like 13 again, literally like, ‘oh my God, I’ve got the social skills of a 13 year old’ because frankly, once I had success, I didn’t even know I was doing this really. But I would use my fame as … a lure. … ’Cause I was scared to get to know anyone.”

He went on:

“And so what happened is my social skills just atrophied. Like it was just, those muscles were so weak. Cause I never used them because I was scared, hid behind the facade of my, my fame. And so now I wasn’t using that anymore. And it was like, ‘oh my God, this scared little kid that’s underneath,’ but I’m glad I went through it. You know? Like if anything, you know, positive has come out of this, it’s like you, I have changed. It’s given me the incentive to, to do the work, to change.”

Guilt over his acting school

The embattled star’s acting school, Studio 4, was central to the allegations against him and the lawsuit that followed. During the interview, he stated that calling one of his classes “Sex Scenes” was “one of the stupidest things I did at the school.” He clarified that he wasn’t actually “teaching people how to do sex scenes or intimate scenes,” and that it was simply “a provocative title.” He explained:

“It should have been called, you know, Contemporary Romance or something like that. It was a class where they did scenes about whatever their romance is, you know, what they go through as young people. So meeting people on, you know, dating apps or breakups, or, you know, just a bad date, stuff like that. That’s what was being done in that class. It was not sex scenes.”

However, James did say:

“Look, I’ll admit I did sleep with students. I didn’t sleep with anybody in that particular class. But, over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students and that was wrong. 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.”

Asked how he didn’t recognize the power balance between a student and himself (not only their teacher, but also a powerful player in Hollywood), he mused:

“I suppose at the time, my thinking was if it’s consensual okay. Of course I knew, you know, talking to other people, other teachers or whatever, like, yeah. It’s probably not a cool thing. At the time I was not clearheaded as I’ve said. So I guess my, I guess it just comes down to my criteria was like, if this is consensual, like, I think it’s cool. We’re all adults so…”

Reflecting on his long-term relationship

James admitted that quitting dating was difficult because “you go through emotional withdrawals.” However, after his seven month break of learning “how to be okay with myself,” he decided:

“‘Okay, you know what, I’m gonna try and date like an old fashioned gentleman, like actually get to know somebody.’ The premium here is not, can I seduce you it’s is there material between us to, to build on to, do I like you do we, do we get along together? Is this something that, you know, has a foundation and, I met Isabel . It sort of was just like the clouds open.”

He described taking their relationship slowly with coffee dates and salsa classes and “1950s style stuff, like, that I had ever done.” They had “six months of fun stuff and it was like The Disaster Artist was coming out and it was all really exciting,” and then the exposé came out. (He said he was “willing to bet that was very hard for her.”)

However, their relationship survived, he revealed:

“She’s incredible. I am so lucky that I found her and, you know, she’s smart, funny, gorgeous. She wasn’t an actress when I met her. I was, I like, I wrote a list of everything I was looking for and like, this wasn’t an imperative, but I was sort of like it’d be nice if she wasn’t an actress and she wasn’t, and then, we started dating. She was like, ‘oh, you know, actually I’m digging this acting class,’ but it turned out great ’cause we, you know, we share all these interests and she’s directing now. I’m just so lucky. So yes, there are a lot of good things have come out of this last four years and, and Isabel’s probably the biggest.”

Responding to Seth Rogen

James also responded to his friend and collaborator Seth Rogen’s comments regarding the end of their working relationship:

“He was asked about me. And, I just wanna say, I absolutely love Seth Rogen, you know… ‘Cause a lot of people come up to me like… I love Seth Rogen. I worked with him for 20 years. We didn’t have one fight for 20 years. Not one fight. He was my absolute closest work friend, collaborator. And, we just gelled and what he said is true, you know, we aren’t working together right now and we don’t have any plans to work together.”

He added:

“Of course it was hurtful, in context, but I get it, you know, he had to answer for me cause I was silent. He had to answer for me and I don’t want that. And so that’s why, you know, it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to talk to you today is I just, I don’t want Seth or my brother or anyone to have to answer for me anymore.”

What do U think of all this, Perezcious readers? Are you ready for James’ comeback or do you think he should remain out of the spotlight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments (below).

P.S. The full interview will air on Thursday, so be sure to stay tuned for updates. He certainly has more to answer for…

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