The Deuce producer and star Maggie Gyllenhaal defended her continued employment of co-star James Franco on Tuesday, saying that she felt ending the show as a result of the sexual abuse accusations against Franco “would’ve been like actually the opposite of the right thing to do.”
“At the time that the accusations against James came out in the L.A. Times we read them all, we took them very seriously,” Gyllenhaal told SiriusXM show Sway in the Morning. “We spoke to every woman on the crew and in the cast to find out if they felt respected and what their experience of working with James was and everyone said that they had been totally respected by him.”
“I feel like it would’ve been the wrong consequence to those accusations to shut our show down. It would’ve been like actually the opposite of the right thing to do,” she continued. “And yet, you know, look, I believe that there should be consequences for disrespecting or assaulting women. Of course, I do.”
In January, five of Franco’s former acting students alleged that the actor had used his acting schools in Los Angeles and New York to exploit young women by coercing them into serving as naked props for his films. Franco was also accused of removing the plastic guards covering the vaginas of young extras during an unscripted orgy scene in which he simulated performing oral sex on them. Franco’s acting school, Studio 4, abruptly closed both of its locations without explanation just months before the allegations were publicized.
According to Gyllenhaal, Franco is ”walking right into the eye of the storm” and “continuing the conversation” about sexual assault in the industry by playing the role of twins Vincent and Frankie Martino, two businessmen who operate a front for the mafia, in The Deuce.
“I think about our show in particular: It’s about misogyny, it’s about inequality in terms of gender in the entertainment business,” she said. “It’s about the subtleties of transactional sex. And I felt that it would have been a terrible shame to stop telling that story.”
Earlier this week, Franco found himself accused of misconduct by another former co-star. In her new memoir, actress Busy Phillipps writes that Franco bullied her on the set of the 1999 NBC sitcom Freaks and Geeks. Phillipps alleges that during a scene in which the show’s director had instructed her to poke Franco in the chest, he reacted by erupting and breaking character. “He grabbed both my arms and screamed in my face, ‘DON’T EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN!'” Philipps writes, according to NBC News. “And he threw me to the ground. Flat on my back. Wind knocked out of me.”
Read the full story at The Cut.