Ashley Judd has praised James Franco’s response to the sexual harassment allegations made against him, saying the actor was “terrific” for his handling of the situation.
After several women made allegations that Franco was guilty of inappropriate sexual behaviour both on and off film sets, The Disaster Artist star said he was willing to “listen and learn and change perspective where it’s off … I’m completely willing and want to.”
When asked about it on the BBC’s HARDtalk program, Judd, one of the first women to come forward with allegations of abuse by Harvey Weinstein, said:
“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.”
She added, “This is about men and women being all together and having a more equitable and just workplace, home life, social spaces.
I mean, we know that when women are empowered in the workplace and are in decision-making positions that workplaces have better financial outcomes and there’s less harassment when there is more diversity. And it takes that kind of individual accountability to collectively make the change on a large scale.”
This week the Los Angeles Times published the accounts of five women alleging sexual misconduct or inappropriate behaviour at the hands of Franco.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan, a former acting student at the film school Franco founded who appeared in several of his productions, claims that on the set of his still unreleased film The Long Home, Franco removed plastic guards covering women’s genitals in a nude orgy scene and continued to simulate the sex act with no protection.
An attorney for Franco told the times the allegation is “not accurate”.
She also claims an actress who refused to take her top off and dance around Franco in another scene was sent home.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” she said.
Another student actress, Violet Paley, says shortly after she began a romantic relationship with Franco, he pressured her into performing oral sex on him in a car.
“I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out,” said Paley. “I got really nervous, and I said, ‘Can we do this later?’ He was kind of nudging my head down, and I just didn’t want him to hate me, so I did it.”
She said if the situation happened now, post #MeToo and Time’s Up, she would yell and get out of the car, but at the time “the power dynamic was really off.”
Franco’s attorney has denied all allegations.