James Franco feels "hurt" after being accused of sexual misconduct by several women, while his friends are worried about him as he has retreated from the public eye amid the scandal, which comes at the height of awards season.
Earlier this week, after Franco appeared at the 2018 Golden Globes wearing a Time's Up movement pin supporting sexual harassment victims and also won an award, two former acting students made comments on Twitter accusing him of sexual misbehavior, while Breakfast Club star Ally Sheedy, who the actor had directed in an off-Broadway play, used the hashtag #MeToo—used to describe sexual misconduct or support victims—in a tweet criticizing him. He addressed the allegations on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, saying, "The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate."
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times quoted Franco's two former students as well as three more as saying that the actor acted in a sexually inappropriate way towards them. Franco's attorney, Michael Plonsker, disputed all of the women's allegations.
"He has gone to great lengths to be more self-reflective and self-aware and accountable," a longtime friend of Franco's told E! News exclusively. "He has taken responsibility for his life and his actions. He is really hurt because he didn't know that we would be in a place where giving someone a voice would be giving someone a license to speak without any accountability."
Amid the allegations, Franco was a no-show during the 2018 Critics' Choice Awards on Thursday, when he won the award for Best Actor for his role in The Disaster Artist.
"James is not doing well right now," another source told E! News, adding that he has "literally has gone non-existent" and that "his close friends are really worried about him."
The source added that Franco had changed his phone number and is only in touch with a few people he's close with.
Last year, Franco told Out magazine that he has "started a new chapter" of his life, saying, "I was very work-addicted, and addicted to other things—not substances, I got over that a long time ago—but I've recently changed my life, and this is part of my therapy."
The second source told E! News that Franco "is sober now but his close friends are really worried he's going to jump back on that bandwagon especially since he just shut himself in."
"He doesn't know what he is going to do next but he knew something like this was going to come out sooner or later," the source said. "As soon as the Harvey [Weinstein] story dropped, he was scared there would be people who spoke out about him too. He called a lot of people he thought would speak out and tried to maneuver the story and try to beat it. He didn't know they would specifically do this but he knew people would come out somehow."
One of Franco's former acting students who spoke out, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, told the Los Angeles Times that late last year, after dozens of women made sexual assault and harassment allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, the actor apologized for making her feel uncomfortable.
"I want to give him credit for at least being open to communicating with me," she said. "I felt that he was still not really taking accountability for the environment on the sets."
Another former acting student who spoke out, Violet Paley, said on Twitter and in her interview with the Los Angeles Times that she and Franco had had a consensual romantic relationship but at one point, he allegedly pressured her into performing oral sex on him. She said that after the Weinstein allegations were reported, she emailed Franco to express her anger and sadness over his alleged treatment of her and that the two later spoke by phone and he tried to make amends.
Franco's attorney denied Paley's allegations, telling the Los Angeles Times they are "not accurate."