UPDATE [Thursday, 3:43 P.M.]--Lucy Clode has deactivated her Instagram account, and her videos and photos are currently unavailable. It is unclear whether or not she will reactivate her profile.
James Franco is hard at work on Broadway’s “Of Mice and Men,” but that does not mean he has no time for play. The 35-year-old actor found himself embroiled in controversy after apparently hitting on a 17-year-old girl named Lucy Clode online.
The Scottish teenager, who turns 18 in May, was in New York for a trip as an early birthday present, and went to see Franco’s play. Afterward, Clode got to meet him, taking pictures and videos with him that she later posted on Instagram.
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As she took a video of him signing autographs for fans, Franco told Clode, “You gotta tag me.”
Things only got more interesting from there. Clode tagged the actor on Instagram, and he proceeded to privately message her. Some of the messages from Franco include, “Do you have a bf?” “When is your bday?” and “Where are you staying?”
Franco then allegedly asked her if he could visit her, if she was single, and whether he should rent a room. Clode clearly did not believe it was him, even saying at one point in the conversation, “April fools was an hour ago though…” She also asks him to send photo proof a number of times, to prove it is actually him. He does, and even sends a picture of himself holding a piece of paper with her name written on it, after she writes, “One second, I will meet you if you write my name on a piece of paper then send it to me with your face also in the picture, please.”
In the end, the two did not hook up, and Franco later tweeted a picture along with the caption, “I’M NOT! I HOPE PARENTS KEEP THEIR TEENS AWAY FROM ME. Thank you.” The picture he linked to has been removed, but it apparently was an Instagram picture of himself with the caption, “Why are you thirsty for underage ones?” “Thirsty” is a slang term that is synonymous with “desperate.”
But was this all just a publicity stunt? Franco is set to star in the movie "Palo Alto," which is an adaptation of the same-titled book he wrote in 2010. The plot revolves around a young girl, played by Emma Roberts, who is involved in an illicit relationship with her soccer coach, played by Franco. So it is possible this was an elaborate stunt to promote his film. Since his tweet, Franco has said nothing more about his dialogue with Clode.
Fans on Twitter remain confused, with most accusing Franco of trying to seduce an underage girl, though 17 is actually above the age of consent in New York. As of Thursday morning, his name was even trending nationwide.