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James Franco’s The Disaster Artist is on a hot streak this awards season, but its actor-director — currently in the hot seat over inappropriate behavior allegations — skipped the Critics Choice Awards ceremony.
Despite triumphing in one of the earliest categories of the evening, the 39-year-old was not present at Thursday’s ceremony, where he took the statuette for Best Actor in a Comedy for his work in the Tommy Wiseau biopic.
Vice Principals star Walton Goggins was on hand to present the award during the broadcast’s one-hour preshow, which streamed online prior to the main show. Amid a smattering of applause following Franco’s victory, Goggins informed attendees that Franco was not present.
Bits of Franco’s performance as Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, however, did appear in a montage at the top of the show’s telecast.
Earlier Thursday, five women accused Franco — also currently starring in the HBO series The Deuce — of inappropriate behavior via a Los Angeles Times exposé.
“I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out,” actress Violet Paley told the publication of an encounter she had with Franco while the pair was in a romantic relationship. “I got really nervous, and I said, ‘Can we do this later?’ He was kind of nudging my head down, and I just didn’t want him to hate me, so I did it.”
In a subsequent interview with TIME, Paley said she sent Franco an email to express her discomfort with the situation, though she said he never responded. Instead, months later, he reportedly called her to tell her he was a “changed man.”
“I wish he had originally replied to my email and met with me and just listened. I wish he made a promise to change,” she said. “When the allegations against Louis C.K. came out — and they were disgusting — he acknowledged what he did. It would give me some comfort if he were to say, ‘What happened was true and I’m sorry.’”
Franco’s lawyer told the Times the allegations were “not accurate,” a sentiment Franco echoed on a pair of talk show appearances this week.
The Deuce co-creator David Simon later released a statement regarding the Franco allegations.
“I’m still reading it the same as everyone else, trying to discern what is or isn’t there,” he said. “Personally I can only speak knowledgeably to The Deuce. I’ve checked with all my fellow producers and other personnel. We have no complainant or complaint or any awareness of any incident of concern involving Mr. Franco. Nor has HBO been approached with any complaint. In our experience, he was entirely professional as an actor, director, and producer.”