For No Reason Whatsoever, Here’s What Shia LaBeouf & James Franco Have Previously Been Accused of…

Actually, the reason is that both stars were welcomed with open arms at the Cannes Film Festival, despite both having extensive, unsettling allegations against them.

Celebrities
For No Reason Whatsoever, Here’s What Shia LaBeouf & James Franco Have Previously Been Accused of…

Since 2017, it’s been “a very scary time” for men, who can supposedly lose everything or even go to jail for so much as winking at a woman, as our former president and many a male comedian have suggested for years now. Flash forward to the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, which kicked off on May 14 and runs until Saturday, where two male stars—Shia LaBeouf and James Franco—were welcomed back with open arms, despite a history of pretty disturbing abuse allegations against them. LaBeouf was there to promote his forthcoming, highly anticipated film Megalopolis (directed by Francis Ford Coppola, more on him in a few), while Franco was promoting his action thriller, The Razor’s Edge. LaBeouf’s film received a 10-minute standing ovation; he and Franco were both dressed by Armani for their red carpet and afterparty appearances.

In 2020, LaBeouf’s ex, singer FKA Twigs, sued him for sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress; she went on to detail the disturbing, alleged acts of violence at length in a 2021 interview with Elle. As for Franco, since 2014, he’s faced a range of allegations including that he preyed on an underage girl and sexually exploited young women in his acting classes. It’s also worth noting that this year, the Cannes Film Festival comes at an inflection point for the MeToo movement in France. French actress Judith Godrèche, who was one of the first actresses to go on the record about being raped by Harvey Weinstein in 1996, premiered her 17-minute short film “Moi Aussi” (“Me Too”). The short follows Godrèche’s recent allegations about the abuse she suffered from two French filmmakers decades ago when she was a teen. This prompted other women to come forward, and the French culture minister to condemn sexual misconduct in the country’s entertainment industry.

So—for no particular reason—as we’re subjected to celebratory social media posts marking the return of LaBeouf and Franco to a red carpet for the first time in years, I thought it might be helpful to revisit women’s accounts of mistreatment at their hands.

In Twigs’ 2021 conversation with Elle, she told the outlet of her relationship with LaBeouf between 2018 and 2019, “It’s a miracle I came out alive.” Twigs said she faced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse from the actor, who she felt pressured to forgive because of his struggles with alcoholism. LaBeouf’s alleged abuse reached a fever pitch when they went on a trip for Valentine’s Day, where Twigs says she woke up to LaBeouf on top of her, squeezing her arms, and trying to strangle her; the following day, she says LaBeouf pushed her to the ground outside their hotel room. When they got in his car, Twigs alleges that LaBeouf purposefully, recklessly drove, demanding that she affirm her love for him and threatening both of their lives. Per Elle:

As he swerved into traffic at an alarming speed, with cars beeping around them, Twigs recalls bracing for the impact of the imminent crash. “I was thinking to myself, ‘I wonder what would happen to my body…if [we] smashed into a wall at 80 miles per hour?’ I was looking for the airbag and I couldn’t see the airbag sign, so I was thinking, ‘If he doesn’t have an airbag, will this car crush my sternum?’ ”

When LaBeouf pulled over at a gas station, Twigs said she tried to escape but LaBeouf slammed her against the car and once again tried to strangle her before throwing her back in the vehicle. 

Over the course of their relationship, Twigs alleged that LaBeouf emotionally manipulated her via aggressive lovebombing early on, only to incrementally become controlling and violent over time. At one point, he gave her an STD that he’d never told her about. Eventually, Twigs was able to escape the relationship when her world tour began in the spring of 2019. In the aftermath, Twigs and LaBeouf went into private mediation prior to Twigs’ decision to go public with her 2020 lawsuit against him, during which Twigs gave LaBeouf a list of demands, including seeking professional help, donating to an abused women’s shelter, and admitting he’d given her an STD and practicing transparency with future sex partners. 

Twigs’ attorney said that mediation ended when LaBeouf was “unwilling to receive meaningful and consistent psychological treatment,” while LaBeouf’s attorneys alleged Twigs had ended mediation. LaBeouf has denied the allegations point-blank, while simultaneously offering a tepid apology for any emotional harm his substance abuse struggles had on her. “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations,” LaBeouf said in a statement in 2021. However, he added that Twigs is not “entitled to any relief or damages whatsoever.”

Twigs’ lawsuit against LaBeouf is set to go to trial later this year—around the same time Megalopolis is expected to arrive in theaters. (Relatedly: Director Francis Ford Coppola faces allegations that he tried to kiss semi-nude, female extras while filming a nightclub scene to try “to get them in the mood,” as well as pulling some women onto his lap, per a report in the Guardian last week.)

As for Franco, the actor’s first controversy involved inappropriate DMs soliciting a 17-year-old girl in 2014, which he eventually characterized as merely “bad judgment” on his end. But by early 2018, several women accused him of varying alarming acts of sexual misconduct, including nonconsensually exposing himself, pressuring someone to perform full nudity for $100 a day for one of his films, and exploiting female students enrolled in his acting school.

Some of these students told the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets that they were pressured to dance and perform topless for Franco and, according to one of the young women, Franco “would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts.” The students also said Franco made them film a range of sex scenes, including an orgy scene, sometimes involving full nudity. “I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” one student told the Los Angeles Times in 2018. “James is absolutely not a Harvey Weinstein. He is not an unfeeling monster who has no sense of reality. He created an exploitative environment for noncelebrity women on his sets,” that same former student said in a 2018 interview on Good Morning America.

Some of these students sued Franco in 2019 but by early 2021, the lawsuit had reportedly been privately settled.

For good reason, both of these men’s careers have been fairly quiet in the wake of… all of this. But in the face of celebratory social media posts and reporting about their returns and respective appearances at Cannes, their alleged mistreatment of women should be front-and-center in any conversations about them. Alleged abuse isn’t just a footnote; it’s an actual safety concern for women and frankly, everyone these men work with. So, if you’re a media outlet that finds yourself giddily tweeting out, “Shia LaBeouf has returned to the red carpet after 4 YEARS,” consider, at the very least, contextualizing why it’s been that long. 

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