James Franco stars as a high school soccer coach pursuing one of his teenage players in his new movie “Palo Alto,” but says life was most definitely not imitating art when he made headlines last month for flirting with a 17-year-old girl on social media.
“[The media] make it out like I am pursuing young women,” the 36-year-old actor told Howard Stern on Wednesday. “I’m not going to high schools, you know, looking for dates. I’m leaving my work and they’re coming there. So, I’m seeing attractive women. And, look, my fan base is, like, 17-year-old girls … to, you know, 30-year-old women. That’s my biggest fan base.”
Last month, the actor made headlines after he met Lucy Clode, a tourist from Scotland, outside his Broadway show, “Of Mice and Men.” After she took a video of the encounter and posted it to Instagram, the two engaged in a flirty conversation on the social media site, with Franco asking her name, age and if she had a boyfriend.
Clode said she was “nearly 18″ — but not yet.
The exchange went viral when Clode posted it to Igmur, and Franco later admitted he was “embarrassed” about the incident.
“I was feeling awkward,” he told Michael Strahan on ”Live with Kelly and Michael” April 4. “I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky. It’s a way people meet each other today.”
He continued, “I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson.”
On Stern’s show, Franco provided a few more details about his exchange with Clode.
“I said, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ And her response was, ‘Not when you’re around,’” Franco said. “So that to me sounds like, okay, she’s interested.”
Franco continued, “Here’s what I’ll say in her defense. I don’t think she posted it knowing what was going to happen. … My sense is it turned, like, bad on her.”
He quickly added, “Now people wanna say, like, I victim-bashed her or something. Like, how is she a victim? I was, like anybody, just trying to meet somebody. It’s just that my dirty s*** gets put out internationally.”