The 35-year-old actor caused controversy on Thursday when screenshots of an apparent conversation between himself and 17-year-old Lucy Clode appeared online. Clode and her mother were visiting from Scotland, and the girl met Franco after his Of Mice & Men Broadway show.
The actor allegedly asked Clode to meet up with him after the two snapped pictures and photos together outside of the venue. He apparently later asked the girl on Instagram for her age and birthdate after she posted and tagged him in the pictures they took. She truthfully answered 17, and he went on to ask her for her phone number and hotel location.
Franco posted a picture of himself on Instagram that read "Why are you thirsty for underage ones?" after the screenshots of his and Clode's conversation leaked. The photo has since been removed, but his Twitter response to his own self remains -- "I'm not! I hope parents keep their teens away from me. Thank you."
I'M NOT! I HOPE PARENTS KEEP THEIR TEENS AWAY FROM ME. Thank you http://t.co/I1d4n3yVe0— James Franco (@JamesFrancoTV) April 2, 2014
The actor spoke out about the controversy on Friday during his appearance on Live with Kelly and Michael. The actor expresses his embarrassment and says, "I used bad judgement and I learned my lesson."
"I was feeling awkward," Franco says. "I guess I'm just a model of how social media is tricky. It's a way people meet each other today."
The actor says that many people experience the "embarrassing" ritual of trying to meet someone, but "it gets published for the world" to see in cases like his.
Despite the actor's admission, some believe the incident is all part of an elaborate hoax to promote Franco's new movie, Palo Alto. The film is based on the actor's short story collection of the same name, and follows a group of teenagers as they experiment with sex and drugs. Franco stars as Mr. B in the movie, a character who romances an underage girl.