News & Opinion | October 31, 2019 6:05 am

David Simon Says James Franco Never Abused His Power for Sex

"He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone."

David Simon says allegations against James Franco differ from other #MeToo accusations.
David Simon says allegations against James Franco differ from other #MeToo accusations.
FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO

Sexual misconduct allegations against James Franco reentered the news cycle earlier this month after two of his former acting students filed a lawsuit against the actor, but according to the co-creator of Franco’s HBO series The Deuce, the accusations against the actor differ significantly from other allegations in the #MeToo movement.

Following up with Rolling Stone TV critic Alan Sepinwall after an earlier interview for the magazine, The Deuce co-creator David Simon addressed the allegations against Franco, which first broke in a Los Angeles Times story published in January of 2018. Franco was accused of pressuring women to appear nude or perform sex scenes, as well as removing plastic guards while simulating oral sex in an orgy scene.

According to Simon, these allegations against Franco are of a different nature than the sexual assault violations of which other key figures in the #MeToo movement have been accused.

“The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone,” Simon told Sepinwall. “There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone.”

Simon, who issued a statement following the initial L.A. Times story stating that no sexual misconduct issues involving Franco had been reported on set, added that if any such accusations had come to light, The Deuce would not have continued. “We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show,” he said. “Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm.”

Throughout the conversation, which Sepinwall described as “contentious,” Simon repeatedly expressed his frustration with the L.A. Times story, calling the reporting on the Franco allegations “purposely muddled” and arguing that the piece deliberately failed to acknowledge the difference between the allegations against Franco and other high-profile #MeToo cases.

“The fundamental dynamic that makes #MeToo and #TimesUp so important, which is men using their power to elicit sex from women, is not present in this case,” said Simon. “Have I said everything you need me to say?”

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.