James Franco is a very active Instagram user and often engages his fans on the social network, posting pictures with them, re-gramming their photos and, apparently, sending some of them flirtatious direct messages. On Tuesday, a teenager from Scotland named Lucy Clode, 17, in New York City on vacation, went to see Franco on Broadway in “Of Mice and Men.” After the show, she met Franco at an autograph signing and documented the whole thing on her Instagram. In one video (above), Franco tells her tag him, which she did, and later on that evening her followed her. That’s when things supposedly got interesting…
According to a series of screenshots posted to Reddit by a friend of Clode’s, Franco and Clode allegedly began a direct message exchange that eventually switched to text messages. In the DM conversation, Franco is shown asking Clode where she’s from, what her age is (not yet 18!), and whether she has a boyfriend. He then asks for her phone number and begins texting her, asking to see her and suggesting that he could get a hotel room.
Clode, wanting to be sure that she was indeed texting with James Franco, asks the actor to write her name down on a piece of paper and then take a selfie with it. He complies, but Clode still turns down his offer to meet up, saying that she’ll come back to NYC when she’s 18,
clearly displaying — if these messages and texts are real and have not been altered — a better understanding of statutory rape laws than the nearly 36-year-old Franco. (UPDATE: The age of consent in NY is 17 — thanks to commenters who pointed this out.) Franco’s alleged response once rejected is short and dismissive.
Clode tweeted about what happened — as teenagers who are propositioned by their favorite celeb are wont to do — and then the screenshots were posted to Reddit. Once the story started to make the rounds yesterday, Franco posted the image and caption below to Instagram, though he’s since deleted it.
He also changed his Instagram bio to read: “PLEASE DON’T MESSAGE ME IF YOU’RE UNDER 18.” That he’s chosen to respond in this manner suggests to me that the DMs and texts between Lucy and James are, in fact, real, though it’s certainly possible they’ve been doctored in such a way to make him look like he was still trying to pick her up even after she told him she was under-18. (UPDATE: Despite the age of consent being 17 in NY, the dialogue between them suggests that both Franco and Clode are under the impression, as I was, that the age of consent is 18.) Does James have another poetry book party coming up? Perhaps he’ll issue a full on denial then.
Regardless, to echo our friends over at The Daily Dot, let this situation be reminder to celebrities — and people — everywhere. Your privates messages, online or on your phone, can be screenshot and posted to the internet for all to see. Remember that the next time you invite a teenager to your hotel room, ya hear?