“James has been reaching out to former girlfriends for the past month asking about his behavior,” a source tells PEOPLE. “He’s known this was coming and was trying to get ahead of the story.”
Following news of the allegations, Franco, 39, took a step back from the spotlight — even skipping the Critics Choice Awards last week where he won the Best Actor honor for his role in The Disaster Artist.
But despite being a no-show, Franco is still set to attend the Screen Actors Guild Awards this weekend, where he is nominated for Best Actor.
“There is no reason to believe that he won’t be there,” says a source close to Franco.
During a recent appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, the actor addressed the sexual harassment allegations issued by a number of women on Twitter after wearing a Time’s Up pin at the Golden Globe Awards.
“There are people that need to be heard,” the actor told Meyers. “I have my own side of this story, but I believe in these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say, just because I believe in it that much,” he said. “So if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to try and actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.”
In an article published in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 11, five women accused the actor of abusing his power as an acting teacher and mentor in a sexually exploitative manner. In it, two students claimed the actor would often become angry on set when they would refuse to film topless while another former acting student at the film school Franco founded said he once removed safety guards while filming an oral sex scene on the set of the 2015 film The Long Home.
Additionally, actress Violet Paley recounted her previous social media claims that Franco exposed himself and tried to pressure her into oral sex. Though she said they had a consensual relationship, Paley said: “that time wasn’t consensual.” She also alleged that he told her friend to meet him in a hotel when the friend was 17.
Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, denied each of the women’s allegations, and cited Franco’s comments on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday as his formal denial.
“Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done,” Franco told Colbert. “I have to do that to maintain my well being. The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate. But I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So I don’t want to shut them down in any way.”