James Franco, who spends his life mystifying the public with a thick sheen of irony and shifting intentions, dropped all pretense on Friday morning to issue a very awkward mea culpa.
Appearing on “Live with Kelly and Michael,” Franco addressed one of the weirder news stories of the week: His apparent flirtation, via Instagram’s private messaging service, with a 17-year-old Scottish girl who was visiting New York. Franco is a prolific Instagram user, with many fans who profess their love for him on each of his uploads, but chose the wrong one to engage with on Tuesday.
He met the girl outside of the stage door at his theater, took a video with her and requested that she tag it. When she did, it led to a semi-aggressive exchange that ended up being published online (it should be noted that 17 is the legal age of consent in New York). Friday, the actor squirmed in his seat as he described the perils of mixing celebrity and digital forums to make new friends.
“I’m embarrassed and I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky, it’s a way people meet each other today. What I’ve learned, I guess because I’m new to it, you don’t know who’s on the other end,” Franco said. “I used bad judgment and learned my lesson. Unfortunately in my position, I have a very good life, but not only do I have to go through the embarrassing rituals of meeting someone, but sometimes if I do that, then it gets published for the world and so now it’s doubling embarrassing.”
The situation has some parallels with the plot of his upcoming film “Palo Alto,” in which he plays a high school soccer coach who grows a bit too close with a student.