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James Franco to return to the screen in new role following sexual misconduct allegations

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James Franco to return to the screen in new role following sexual misconduct allegations

James Franco has confirmed a new major acting role, having stepped away from the big screen for four years after sexual misconduct allegations were made against him.

Multiple women came forward in 2018, including four of his former pupils, at the height of the #MeToo movement, accusing the 44-year-old of behaviour that was sexually inappropriate or exploitative.

Actors Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal then filed a lawsuit in 2019 alleging that Franco had engaged in 'sexually-charged behaviour towards female students' at his now-defunct acting school.

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Franco had said the initial allegations made against him in 2018 were ‘not accurate’, but last year it was reported he had agreed to pay $2.23m (£1.67m) to settle the lawsuit. 

Numerous women made allegations against James Franco. Credit: Independent Photo Agency Srl/Alamy Stock Photo
Numerous women made allegations against James Franco. Credit: Independent Photo Agency Srl/Alamy Stock Photo

While the 127 Hours star has been laying low since the controversy came to light, it appears he's now making a comeback.

Less than a month after it was revealed he'd taken a lead role in a post-World War 2 coming-of-age drama film titled Me, You, he's also been cast to play the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

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Deadline reported yesterday, 4 August, that Franco will appear alongside Mía Maestro in Miguel Bardem’s upcoming biopic Alina of Cuba.

Maestro is set to portray Natalia 'Naty' Revuelta, the Cuban socialite who Castro had a passionate affair with, while Ana Villafañe has landed the role as their daughter Alina Fernández.

The actor will play the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Credit: Creative Commons
The actor will play the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Credit: Creative Commons

Speaking about the decision to cast Franco, producer John Martinez O’Felan told the outlet: "Finding and convincing James Franco to play Castro, was a fun and challenging process and has been the collaborative work of the universe."

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He said that the 'director’s original order was to find an actor who holds a close physical resemblance to the real Castro', while also looking for someone who 'Alina Fernandez would strongly endorse'.

O’Felan continued: "To get there on such a tough look to cast, we used Fidel Castro’s ancient Galician heraldry as our focal compass, and then combed through the entire ranks of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone who has a similar facial structure.

"In executing a close search into our hopefuls through the eye of Spanish and Portuguese genealogy which the Galicians held, we found that James, by far, had the closest facial likeness of our industry’s leading actors."

Last December, Franco gave his first in-depth interview since the allegations were made against him, where he claimed he'd been battling sex addiction for 20 years.

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Speaking on SiriusXM's The Jess Cagle Podcast, he admitted he was 'completely blind' to people's feelings.

The actor co-founded Studio 4, which has since been shut down. Credit: Creative Commons
The actor co-founded Studio 4, which has since been shut down. Credit: Creative Commons

He also said at the time that he ‘did sleep with students’ at his acting school, which he co-founded in 2014 before it was closed in 2017.

"Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong," he said. "But like I said, it's not why I started the school and I wasn't the person that selected the people to be in the class.

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"So it wasn't a 'master plan' on my part. But yes, there were certain instances where, you know what, I was in a consensual thing with a student and I shouldn't have been."

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact The Survivor’s Trust for free on 08088 010 818, or through their website thesurvivorstrust.org

Featured Image Credit: Independent Photo Agency Srl/Suzan Moore/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Film & TV, Film and TV

Daisy Phillipson
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