Actor James Franco has admitted having sex with students from his acting school, almost four years after sexual misconduct allegations were made.
The 43-year-old agreed to pay $2.2m (£1.6m) in July after being sued for engaging in “sexually-charged behaviour towards female students”.
Speaking on The Jess Cagle Podcast, he said that while teaching, he “did sleep with students, and that was wrong”.
He said he had not started the school to lure women for sexual purposes.
Franco was nominated for best actor at the Oscars in 2011 for his starring role in 127 Hours, directed by Danny Boyle, and is also known for his roles in Pineapple Express and the Spider-Man films.
The actor said he had remained quiet over the allegations relating to his school for years because “there were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen”.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who attended Franco’s now-defunct Studio 4 acting school, alleged Franco tried to “create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education”.
The class action lawsuit – filed in Los Angeles in 2019 – alleged he abused his position and dangled opportunities for roles in his films.
In this case, students claimed they were victims of fraud for paying for the acting school while being sexually objectified and intimidated
When the allegations first surfaced, Franco said they were “not accurate”.
But payments were eventually made to Ms Tither-Kaplan and Ms Gaal, as well as other students who filed complaints.
In excerpts from the podcast made public on Wednesday, Franco said he had been in recovery from sex addiction since 2016 and had “been doing a lot of work” after the allegations against him “and changing who I was”.
“I suppose at the time, my thinking was if it’s consensual, OK,” he told the podcast on SiriusXM
The comments are the actor’s first public attempt to address the allegations at length.
Asked how he could have been unaware of the potential for power dynamics between a teacher and student to skew the concept of consent, Franco responded: “At the time, I was not clear-headed.”
“I was in recovery before for substance abuse. There were some issues that I had to deal with that were also related to addiction,” he continued.
“And so I’ve really used my recovery background to kind of start examining this and changing who I was.”
Source: BBC News