At the Critics' Choice Awards on January 11, The Disaster Artist star James Franco won the award for Best Actor in a Comedy. But the actor was not on hand to pick up his award. The star-studded ceremony came just hours after the Los Angeles Times published a report stating that five women have come forward to accuse Franco of "inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior," so it appears Franco was lying low.
Four former students from Studio 4, the now-shuttered film school Franco founded, spoke to the L.A. Times and shared instances in which they say the actor overstepped his boundaries. Two women, for example, claimed that Franco grew angry when they refused to remove their tops on a film set.
A former mentee, Violet Paley, also shared her story with the publication, and claimed that Franco had once pressured her to perform sexual acts on him while in his car. Paley originally shared her accusations on social media on January 8 — before the L.A. Times piece ran — after spotting Franco wearing a "Time's Up" pin at the Golden Globe Awards.
Franco addressed the tweet, and other social media reactions of the same ilk, while appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on January 9. "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," Franco said. "So I don't want to shut them down in any way. I think it's a good thing and I support it."
Franco's attorney Michael Plonsker also disputed all the claims in the L.A. Times piece, but an anonymous source told People that the actor is "in a bad place" following the article's release.
"He changed his phone number,” the source said. “His close friends are trying to be there for him but it’s been hard — he’s only talking to a select group of people. For now, he’s just hiding out.”