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James Franco and younger girlfriend make red carpet debut, months after misconduct allegations

James Franco made a rare public appearance with his younger girlfriend, Isabel Pakzad, at the Broadway opening of “Straight White Men” on Monday. It marked their red carpet debut as a couple and the first step-and-repeat for Franco since January’s scandal.

Franco, 40, has kept a very low profile ever since a handful of women accused him of sexual misconduct earlier this year. Pakzad, 25, has stood by her boyfriend throughout the controversy. They have reportedly been dating since November 2017.

James Franco and Isabel Pakzad attend the opening of “Straight White Men” at the Helen Hayes Theater on July 23, 2018, in New York City. (Photo: Getty Images)

Following Franco’s win at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards for The Disaster Artist, the actor was called out in a series of cryptic tweets from an account attributed to The Breakfast Club star Ally Sheedy. Two women on Twitter also accused the actor of inappropriate behavior. In the following days, a total of five women — four of whom were his former acting students — accused Franco in a Los Angeles Times article of sexually inappropriate behavior. Franco denied all of the allegations.

“One of the things that I’ve learned is that this is a conversation that needs to be had,” Franco told Seth Meyers after allegations surfaced. “There are people and women and others that have not been a part of this conversation, and I truly believe — and [it is] why I was wearing the pin — is that they need to be a part of this conversation. So I support them.”

He was asked by Meyers if the #TimesUp movement made him question his past behavior.

“I think what I really learned, like I said, there are stories that need to get out, people that need to be heard,” Franco responded. “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. If I have to take a knock because I am not going to try and actively refute things then I will, because I believe in it that much.”

Fallout was swift, as Franco was snubbed by the Oscars, and he quickly retreated from the spotlight. “He’s in a really bad place, so bad that he changed his phone number,” a source told People. “His close friends are trying to be there for him but it’s been hard — he’s only talking to a select group of people. For now, he’s just hiding out.”

HBO did not cut ties with Franco, and he will star in Season 2 of The Deuce. With the premiere less than two months away, Franco’s reemergence makes sense.

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