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James Franco agrees to pay over $2 million to settle lawsuit alleging he pushed students to perform explicit sex scenes at his acting school

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FILE - This Sept. 5, 2019 file photo shows James Franco at the premiere of HBO's "The Deuce" third and final season in New York. Two actresses have sued Franco and his former acting and film school, saying they were pushed into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations as his students.  (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
James Franco. Associated Press
  • James Franco has agreed to pay $2,235,000 to settle a lawsuit brought against him.

  • The lawsuit was filed by former students of his now shuttered acting school, Studio 4.

  • It alleged Franco and his associates pushed students to perform explicit sex scenes on camera.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Actor James Franco has agreed to pay $2,235,000 to settle a lawsuit in which he and his associates were accused of pushing students at his now shuttered acting school, Studio 4, to perform explicit sex scenes on camera.

The settlement was disclosed in a court filing in Los Angeles Superior Court, and a judge still has to approve it, Deadline reported.

Two former students at Franco's school, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, led the lawsuit.

The filing said Franco and the other defendants, his business partners Jay Davis and Vince Jolivette, "deny any violations" despite the joint approval by both parties for the settlement being approved.

"Although Defendants contend they are not liable for any of the claims alleged, they have agreed to settle in the manner and upon the terms of the proposed Settlement Agreement," the filing said.

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James Franco. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

In a lawsuit filed in 2019, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal alleged that Franco and his business partners "engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects."

This behavior, the suit continued, "led to an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation both in and out of the class."

Tuition was $300 a month, but there were additional master classes offered that could cost up to $2,000. One of those master classes was on sex scenes and cost $740.

The lawsuit, which was obtained by The New York Times, said students had to audition for the course by recording a video that was then sent to Franco to review. In doing so, they said, they also had to give up their rights to these recordings.

The draw, the lawsuit said, was that students would be allowed exclusive rights to audition for roles in Franco's indie films, but it later turned out that the roles were open to other actors.

At the time of the Tither-Kaplan and Gaal lawsuit, Franco was already dealing with allegations of inappropriate behavior.

seth rogen james franco dave franco
Frequent collaborator Seth Rogen (left) has said he has no plans to work with James Franco in the future. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

In January 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that five women had accused Franco of "inappropriate or sexually exploitative" behavior. Franco denied the allegations.

Since the accusations were made public, the Oscar-nominated actor has found blowback in Hollywood. Franco lost the opportunity to direct "Zola," a recent release based on the viral 148-tweet thread by Aziah "Zola" King about a stripping trip she took with a new friend to Florida.

Franco's longtime friend and frequent collaborator Seth Rogen told The Sunday Times in May that he has no plans to work with Franco in the future.

"I can say it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic," Rogen said.

Read the original article on Insider