Under-fire James Franco wins at Critics’ Choice Awards

By Sam Blewett, Press Association Los Angeles Correspondent
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Under-fire James Franco wins at Critics’ Choice Awards

The award came on the day the Los Angeles Times reported five women had accused him of sexually inappropriate behaviour.

James Franco won best actor in a comedy at the Critics’ Choice Awards, but the under-fire actor did not appear in person to collect the accolade.

Franco was awarded the honour on Thursday night, for his role in The Disaster Artist, hours after the Los Angeles Times had published claims by five women that he had been sexually inappropriate.

Organisers had billed the event in Santa Monica as being attended by Franco, but after announcing him as the winner, actor Walton Goggins said: “James couldn’t be here tonight to accept this, so we will accept it on his behalf.”

After the report, Franco did not issue a fresh statement, but his publicist pointed towards the actor previously saying allegations made on social media following his Golden Globes victory were “not accurate”.

The newspaper reported that two former student actresses who studied under Franco said he became hostile and stormed off when they did not volunteer to remove their clothes during a scene at a strip club.

Another student, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, 26, alleged that Franco removed protective coverings on other actresses’ vaginas while simulating oral sex on them during filming of The Long Home in May 2015, the paper reported.

Franco’s lawyer, Michael Plonsker, told the paper “the allegations about the protective guards are not accurate”.

Cynthia Huffman, the film’s casting director, added: “All actresses were aware of the nudity scenes ahead of time. I personally checked on all the actresses constantly to make sure they were OK and comfortable.

“I did not receive any complaints.”

Actress Violet Paley, 23, told the paper that during a consensual relationship with Franco, he pressured her into performing oral sex while they were in a car.

Franco told The Late Show With Stephen Colbert this week: “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.”

In 2014, Franco apologised after flirting with Briton Lucy Clode, who was 17 when he flirted with her online after they met outside a Broadway theatre in New York.

The 23rd Critics’ Choice Awards were organised by the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association and were held at the Barker Hangar, in Santa Monica, California.