Two James Franco Accusers Call for Actor to 'Apologize' in New Interview
Violet Paley and Sarah Tither-Kaplan — two of the women who have accused actor James Franco of sexually exploitative behavior, which he denies — appeared on Good Morning America, Tuesday
Violet Paley and Sarah Tither-Kaplan — two of the women who have accused actor James Franco of sexually exploitative behavior, which he has denied — appeared on Good Morning America, Tuesday, to discuss their alleged experiences with the star.
Paley, 23, brought Franco’s name into the national discussion of sexual harassment earlier this month after he wore a Time’s Up pin at the Golden Globe Awards. “Cute #TimesUp pin, James Franco,” she tweeted, then called out alleged examples of Franco’s inappropriate behavior.
“It was impulsive to tweet that,” Paley told GMA of publicly making the allegations of Franco’s actions, which she said occurred while the two were on a date.
In an article published in the Los Angeles Times days later, Paley and Tither-Kaplan, 26, joined three other women who accused Franco of abusing his power as an acting teacher and mentor in a sexually exploitative manner.
Paley claimed to the Times that Franco allegedly exposed himself and tried to pressure her into oral sex. Though she said they had a consensual relationship, Paley said: “that time wasn’t consensual.” She also alleged that he told her friend to meet him in a hotel when the friend was 17.
Of continuing a relationship with Franco after the alleged incident, Paley told GMA, “I’m regretful, I was young, he was a celebrity I looked up to.”
Two students also claimed in the Times report that the actor would often become angry on set when they would refuse to film topless, while Tither-Kaplan — a former acting student at the film school Franco founded — said he once removed safety guards while filming an oral sex scene on the set of the 2015 film The Long Home.
Tither-Kaplan also took Franco’s master class called Sex Scenes.
“James abused his power by exploiting the non-celebrity women that he worked with under the guise of giving them opportunities,” an emotional Tither-Kaplan told GMA, explaining she was “shaking” with nerves. “Being an actor and a filmmaker and working in the industry has been my dream since I was like maybe five or six and I knew that by coming forward I was risking my career.”
She went on to claim that Franco added sex scenes after she accepted the original script in the master class — scenes she regrets accepting without having the time to truly consider them or understand their “artistic value.”
“A lot of the times they seemed gratuitous or exploitative,” Tither-Kaplan said.
Women who didn’t say yes were asked to leave or weren’t considered to be in his projects, Tither-Kaplan claimed.
Though the experience was upsetting for Tither-Kaplan, she said Franco’s actions were not comparable to Harvey Weinstein — who has been accused by over 50 women of sexual harassment and assault. (A spokesperson for Weinstein previously told PEOPLE in a statement, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.” He also denied “any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”)
“James is absolutely not a Harvey Weinstein, he is not an unfeeling monster who has no sense of reality,” Tither-Kaplan said. “He created exploitative environments for non-celebrity women on his sets. I also think James is a very talented and valuable person. It’s a pyramid, and at the top is rape and sexual violence and at the bottom are the other abuses of power… that continue to build and build and build and create a culture that allows the most heinous examples of sexual violence and misogyny and discrimination to happen. So if we allow any of them, we’re allowing all of them.”
Both women told GMA they wanted to see changes from Franco, with Tither-Kaplan asking him to use “his power to give opportunities to women that are real and valuable and actually give them career advancement.”
Paley’s wish? “Please just apologize,” she said.
Franco’s representatives made no comment on the women’s claims to GMA, other than to say they were “not accurate.” The actor’s reps did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide subsidized legal support to women and men in all industries who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, visit its GoFundMe page. Learn more about Time’s Up, an organization of women in entertainment combating sexual harassment and inequality, on its website.
Franco addressed the allegations during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers earlier this month.
“There are people that need to be heard,” the actor told Meyers. “I have my own side of this story, but I believe in these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say, just because I believe in it that much,” he said. “So if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to try and actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.”
The actor’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, previously denied each of the women’s allegations to the Times and cited Franco’s comments during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as his formal denial.
“Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done,” Franco told Colbert. “I have to do that to maintain my well being. The things that I heard that 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. So I don’t want to shut them down in any way.”
RELATED VIDEO: James Franco Skips Critics Choice Awards as Source Says He’s ‘in a Really Bad Place’ After Allegations
Since the allegations, Franco has maintained a lower profile. He skipped the Critics’ Choice Awards, where he won the award for best actor in a comedy for his role in The Disaster’s Artist — though he did make an appearance at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards.
He was snubbed for an Oscar nomination on Tuesday.
Sources have said the actor has been shaken by the allegations: “He’s in a really bad place,” a source close to the situation told PEOPLE. “His close friends are trying to be there for him.”