US actor James Franco said he regretted sleeping with students at his film school, breaking his silence on allegations of sexual misconduct in an interview aired Thursday.
Oscar nominee Franco was publicly accused by five women in 2018 of exploitative behavior including during nude scenes at his Studio 4 school in North Hollywood.
“Look, I’ll admit, I did sleep with students,” Franco, 43, said in his first major interview on the allegations with The Jess Cagle Show on SiriusXM.
“Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong. But like I said, it’s not why I started the school.”
Franco and his lawyers have previously denied allegations that he had simulated oral sex on several actresses, and removed a clear plastic guard that covered their vaginas.
He was also accused of using his film school to ensnare sexually available women, asking female students to dance around him topless in an unscripted scene, and making “everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts.”
In the interview with Cagle, Franco denied sleeping with students who were enrolled in his class entitled “sex scenes,” and said the class simply had a “provocative title” but did not specifically feature instruction on intimate scenes.
“It wasn’t a master plan on my part,” he said.
“But, yes, there were certain instances where I was in a consensual thing with a student and I shouldn’t have been.”
Pressed on how he could not have understood the power imbalance between a Hollywood star and their student, Franco said he had replaced his teenage alcohol addiction with an addiction to sex and his own celebrity.
“I suppose at the time my thinking was ‘if it’s consensual, okay.’
“Of course, I knew… I talked to other people, other teachers… it’s probably not a cool thing.
“At the time I was not clear-headed as I’ve said. So it just comes down to my criteria was like, ‘if this is consensual, I think it’s cool. We’re all adults.'”