When Vulture asked Maggie Gyllenhaal about The Deuce's decision to keep James Franco on the show, she had a thoughtful answer. In January of 2018, Franco faced a series of sexual misconduct allegations that were published in the LA Times. One woman accused him of removing a plastic guard during a filmed oral sex scene; another accused him of pressuring her to perform oral sex. Through his lawyer, Franco denied the allegations and proceeded with his career, which meant starring as not one, but two characters on The Deuce.
"I feel like one of the problems we have right now is that we don’t have any good models for how to handle these kinds of situations in anything resembling a healthy or progressive way beyond 'cancel that person,'" Gyllenhaal told Vulture. From her perspective, she explained, the work of The Deuce was too important to let the news about Franco cancel it all. "I felt that it would have been a terrible shame to stop telling that story. I had so much more to say about all of these things by playing Candy, and I know that Emily [Meade], who plays Lori, and Dominique [Fishback], who plays Darlene, and Jamie [Neumann], who plays Dorothy, also had feminist interest in continuing this story."
By extension, Franco also had a feminist interest in participating in The Deuce. His two characters, twins Vincent and Frankie, are the grounding pillars of the narrative. The show, per creator David Simon, is actually based on real-life twins who owned a bar in Times Square in the '70s. Vincent and Frankie aren't necessarily the driving forces behind the feminism in the show, but they are integral.
"Neither of James’s characters on the show are heroes," Gyllenhaal added. "I would say he’s walking right into the eye of the storm — he’s continuing the conversation with the work that he’s doing. I don’t think there’s a way to do this show without consciously knowing that you’re part of a larger conversation about exploitation and misogyny."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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