James Franco is potentially facing a slew of new accusers in what is now a class action lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination, harassment and other shocking claims filed in a complaint on Oct. 3 in Los Angeles.
Plaintiffs Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed the suit on behalf of themselves and other “similarly situated” students who were enrolled in the actor’s “fraudulent” acting school, Studio 4.
According to the lawsuit, Franco and other defendants “opted to sexualize their power and fame by dangling the opportunity to aspiring actors of employment in film and television in exchange for explicit nudity, sex and, as Franco put it, the ‘pushing of boundaries.’”
“Defendants’ scheme, like many, started slow, first encouraging female student actors to appear topless, then perform in sex scenes, then orgies and gratuitous full nudity for no other reason than Defendants could make them do it,” continued the suit.
Franco, claimed the lawsuit, “was looking to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional exploitation in the name of education.”
The lawsuit alleged that Franco, 41, taught the masterclass Sex Scenes and “encouraged” anyone hoping to be accepted into the program be filmed while performing and improvising sexual acts.
Franco would then allegedly review the videos and “handpick” student actors for his $750 class.
“Women who refused to participate or questioned the legitimacy of the sex scene were quickly dismissed from projects,” the lawsuit alleged, and “when women refused to go topless or engage in his sexual exploits, Franco became angry and the women were brought in to replace them."
The female students, read the suit, often signed away their rights to any nude or sex scenes filmed, and work promised in Franco’s projects “typically went to non-students or young, attractive women who acquiesced to the extreme requests of Defendants.”
The plaintiffs are seeking damages and equitable relief, including the return of all original and copies of audition footage, a refund on tuition paid for classes at Franco’s school and legal costs.