James Franco admitted Friday that he was indeed hitting on 17-year-old Lucy Clode, and swore it wasn't a publicity stunt. On Tuesday, the actor found himself in unwelcome headlines after flirting with the visiting Scottish teenager via private Instagram messages which she later leaked to the press.
“I’m embarrassed,” Franco, 35, told Kelly Ripa on “Live with Kelly and Michael” Friday morning. “I guess I’m just a model about how social media’s tricky. It’s a way people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned is you don’t know who’s on the other end. I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson.”
Clode, who turns 18 in May, was in New York for a trip as an early birthday present, and went to see Franco’s play "Of Mice and Men." Afterward, she got to meet him, taking pictures and videos with him that she later posted on Instagram. 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?”
It was speculated that it all could have been an elaborate publicity stunt, as 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 was possible this was a hoax to promote his film.
But according to Franco, that was not the case. “Unfortunately in my position, not only do I have to go through the embarrassing rituals of meeting someone, but if I do that, then it gets published for the world so it’s doubly embarrassing,” he told Ripa.
In other messages Franco sent Clode, he 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.” Clode has since deactivated her Instagram account.