Don't confuse James Franco with the man he plays in Palo Alto. Unlike his character in that movie—a high school soccer coach who gets caught up in a flirtation with a student—the 36-year-old Of Mice and Men actor is not looking to date a teenager, despite his attempt to pick up 17-year-old Lucy Clode via Instagram last month. Speaking about the scandal in an interview on Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show on Wednesday, April 30, Franco tried to clear the air about what really happened.
"The way that the news wants to kind of do it, because these are the flashy headlines, I am pursuing...young women," he told Stern of his encounter with Clode, who met him outside his Broadway show in New York City. "I'm not going to high schools looking for dates. I'm leaving my work and they're coming there!"
He continued: "So I'm just seeing attractive women. And look, my fan base is like 17-year-old girls. If I do a book signing, it'll be 17-year-old to 30-year-old women. That's my biggest fan base. So I saw her, and she's saying on her page, 'I love James Franco, blah blah blah.'"
"I was a gentleman. I said, 'Do you have a boyfriend?'" he recalled. "And her response was, 'Not when you're around.' So that, to me, sounds like, okay, she's interested."
Clode shared screen-grabs of her conversation with the Spring Breakers star via Instagram, which then got picked up by various news outlets. But Franco doesn't blame her for the ensuing media frenzy, and even defended her actions to Stern.
"I don't think she posted it knowing what was going to happen. I think she was somebody that had, you know, 100, maybe at the most 500, friends on Twitter, or followers or whatever," he said. "And she's thinking not, 'Here's a guy hitting on me,' [but] 'Here is James Franco, this image I have of James Franco, hitting on me. Oh, my god, my friends will never believe this.'"
"So she's just used to tweeting something to her friends and she'll get, you know, 20 likes...[but] when she put that on, obviously people pick up on it," he continued. "She even took it down. But again, it was too late. And my sense is it turned bad on her."
Franco doesn't appreciate being blamed for that last part, though. "Now people want to say I victim-bashed her," he told Stern. "How is she a victim? I was like anybody, just trying to meet somebody. It's just that my dirty s--t gets put out internationally."