According to a report by The Los Angeles Times, five women have accused James Franco of "inappropriate or sexually exploitative behaviour." The actor, who won a Golden Globe for The Disaster Artist while wearing a Time's Up pin for sexual harassment awareness, has denied the allegations through his lawyer, and responded to them during an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
After being unable to name an incident in which he hurt Ally Sheedy, an actress he directed in an off-Broadway play and whom namechecked him on Twitter during the Golden Globes before deleting her tweets, Franco told Colbert:
"Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done... I have to do that to maintain my wellbeing. I do it whenever I know that there’s something wrong or needs to be changed...The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out...because they didn’t have a voice for so long. I don’t want to shut them down in anyway. It's, I think, a good thing and I support it."
Now, in an interview with Stephen Sakur, which will air this coming Sunday at 11:30 p.m. on the BBC World News program HARDtalk, activist and actress Judd has applauded Franco's comments. Judd, who was one of the first women to publicly accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, stated during her interview:
"I think that what James said is terrific. And I think that we’ve all behaved — at a certain level — unconsciously, and done things that were insensitive, inappropriate, without necessarily understanding that they were. I mean we’ve all operated with a certain amount of tone-deafness, and I like the culpability, and we have to have restorative justice. This is about men and women being all together and having a more equitable and just workplace, home life, social spaces."
It's certainly important that Franco confronted the rumours against him, rather than shutting down the conversation or insinuating that the women who spoke out were lying. Still, words are just that: We have no idea what actions Franco is taking in order to correct his potentially problematic behaviour, or made amends with the women whom he has allegedly hurt.
There is no rulebook for the accused to follow, but it's worth wondering if even the most well-meaning of words will ever be enough.
Refinery29 has reached out to representatives for Judd and Franco. We will update the post should they have any additional statements.