James Franco has defended his courtship of a 17-year-old fan again, insisting it’s legal to date a girl that young in New York. The movie star’s Instagram correspondence with Scottish schoolgirl Lucy Clode turned embarrassing for Franco when she revealed her age.
The 127 Hours star, 36, met the teenager following a performance of his Broadway play Of Mice & Men at the end of March (14), and later contacted her through social media, asking for her phone number and bombarding her with personal questions. Appearing on U.S. TV show Live! With Kelly and Michael days after the scandal broke, he explained the dangers of Internet dating, saying, “I’m embarrassed, and I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky. It’s the way that people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned – I guess because I’m new to it – is you don’t know who’s on the other end… I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson.”
And, during a chat with satellite radio shock jock Howard Stern earlier this week (begs28Apr14), Franco attempted to defend his actions, stating, “Seventeen is legal in New York, but that being said, it’s still pretty damn young. They make it out like I’m pursuing young women. I’m not going to high schools looking for dates. I’m leaving my work and they’re coming there. So, I’m seeing attractive women.”
And the actor insists he was nothing but polite: “I saw her (Clode) and she said on her page, ‘I love James Franco! Blahblahblah’. ‘Well, OK, you look interesting. I don’t know how old you are. I was a gentleman. I said, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ And her response was, ‘Not when you’re around’. So that to me sounds like, ‘OK, she’s interested’.”
During the conversation with Stern, Franco also confirmed he had kissed Lindsay Lohan during a romantic encounter with the Mean Girls star when she was 17, but he insisted the two never had sex – even though his name appeared on a lover’s list scribbled by Lohan during her rehab stint last year (13).