On Thursday, James Franco was looking like a creepy old guy or a PR maestro for his leaked social-media come-on to a 17-year-old Scottish tourist. Come Friday, Franco was just looking embarrassed.
The 35-year-old actor appeared on “Live! With Kelly and Michael” and admitted his gaffe, saying he was “embarrassed,” “doubly embarrassed” and had “used bad judgment” over social media with the fan. He didn’t address the difference in their ages.
The story was brought up first thing during Franco’s appearance on “Live!,” apparently at his request. He said he didn’t want to sit there feeling “awkward.”
“I’m embarrassed and I’m just a model of how social media is tricky,” Franco explained. “It’s a way people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned, I guess just ‘cause I’m new to it, it’s like, you don’t know who’s on the other end. You meet somebody in person, you get a feel for them, but you don’t know who you’re talking to ... so I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson.”
Franco was booked on the morning show to discuss his play “Of Mice and Men,” now in previews, costarring “Bridesmaids” cop Chris O’Dowd and opening April 16 at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre.
Earlier this week, outside that theater’s stage door, the actor ran into 17-year-old Lucy Corde, whom he urged to “tag” him when the photo or video she was taking was posted online.
He would later attempt to woo her, in a way, over social media and then text message. Along the way, she revealed to him that she was visiting New York City from Scotland with her mom as an early 18th-birthday present.
According to screen shots available on sites including Gawker and Imgur, Franco asked Corde questions including: How old are you? (not quite 18); Do you have a boyfriend? (no direct answer, though British media says she does); Can I see you? (“as long as you are james franco”); Where are you staying? (at a hotel just off Times Square); Should I rent a room there? (that’s where her tap-dancing begins). The rendezvous attempt ultimately fizzled as she told him she’d come back when she was 18.
Though Franco twice fulfilled her requests to provide photo proof of his identity, she clearly did not pay attention his “Don’t tell” plea when it came to sharing the exchange with her friends (an audience that grew to include, well, everyone).
On “Live!,” the “Spring Breakers” star also touched on Thursday’s media uproar from his point of view.
“Unfortunately in my position -- I mean, 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, it gets published for the world, so now it’s like doubly embarrassing.”
To his credit, he did ask if she was 18, and 17 is the age of consent in New York. And Kelly Ripa promised, “I will not reveal our text messages.”
Franco’s mea culpa wasn’t quite enough for Lucy’s grandma, Beryl Sussex, 84. "I think he ought to get a slap on the wrist and I know my son, Lucy’s dad, wouldn’t be afraid to give it to him,” she told the MailOnline after hearing that the actor had owned up to the exchange. “It shows how little these famous actors know about normal people and how to behave. They’re out of touch with reality.”
So much for the speculation about this being a viral PR stunt for his upcoming teacher-and-student flick “Palo Alto.” Unless, of course, he’s that much of a genius at manipulating the media -- and a grandmother in South Wales.