James Franco was once the James Dean of his generation.
In fact, in one of his first breakout roles, Franco earned an Emmy nomination and won a Golden Globe for portraying the ’50s screen legend in the 2001 TV biopic “James Dean.”
But 20 years later, the 43-year-old star has fallen from Hollywood heartthrob to disaster artist. After a series of sexual misconduct allegations against Franco, even his frequent collaborator Seth Rogen doesn’t want to work with him anymore.
When asked whether he would continue working with Franco, Rogen — who co-starred with Franco in 2008’s “Pineapple Express,” 2013’s “This Is the End” and 2014’s “The Interview” — told the UK’s Sunday Times that “the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now.”
Representatives for Franco did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment on this article.
It’s been a long fall from grace for Franco in a career that has veered wildly from the highs of getting a Best Actor Oscar nomination for 2010’s “127 Hours” to the lows of his cringe-worthy co-hosting gig with Anne Hathaway at the 2011 Academy Awards.
Along the way, the actor has made more than his share of weird choices, including a recurring role on the soap opera “General Hospital” — playing a character called Franco, no less — and a stint as a painter that led New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz to write that “at this point, George W. Bush is actually a better artist than James Franco.”
In addition to being a screenwriter, Franco penned a book of short stories, “Palo Alto,” which was adapted into a 2013 movie in which he starred with Emma Roberts. Not content to direct mere films, he even turned to dance theater. At one point, he was enrolled in multiple grad-school programs, including one at Yale.
After getting his big break in the Judd Apatow series “Freaks and Geeks” in 1999 — in which he co-starred with Rogen — Franco became a certified movie star.
Not only did he score blockbusters such as “Eat Pray Love,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and three “Spider-Man” films, but he also appeared in critically acclaimed movies such as “Milk,” “Spring Breakers” and “The Disaster Artist,” for which he won a best actor Golden Globe.
And as of one of the hottest bachelors in Hollywood, Franco dated actresses such as Marla Sokoloff (TV’s “The Practice) and Ahna O’Reilly (“The Help”), as well as British model Agyness Deyn.
But things began to tarnish for this golden boy in 2014, when, while starring in “Of Mice and Men” on Broadway, he took a selfie with a 17-year-old girl outside the theater.
After asking her to “tag him” on Instagram, he sent her a private message (DM’d her) and offered to rent a hotel room for them.
Then, once the DMs were made public, Rogen ribbed Franco about it in his monologue while hosting “Saturday Night Live”: “I decided to prank James Franco. I posed as a girl on Instagram, told him I was way young. He seemed unfazed. I have a date to meet him at the Ace Hotel.”
Although he admitted to DM’ing the girl, Franco insisted that he was a complete “gentleman” while defending himself to Howard Stern: “I’m not going to high schools looking for dates. I’m leaving my work, and they’re coming there! . . . And look, my fan base is, like, 17-year-old girls.”
Four years later, in 2018, Franco got dragged again after he won his Golden Globe for “The Disaster Artist.” Following his victory, actress Ally Sheedy, who worked with him on the 2014 play “The Long Shrift,” then tweeted: “James Franco just won. Please never ever ask me why I left the film/tv business” and “Ok wait. Bye. Christian Slater and James Franco at a table on @goldenglobes #MeToo.”
Many followers took Sheedy’s tweets to imply that “The Breakfast Club” star was accusing Franco of some sort of sexual harassment or abuse.
And Sheedy wasn’t the only actress to call Franco out at the 2018 Globes. Sarah Tither-Kaplan, a former student at the actor’s Studio 4 film school, tweeted: “Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes , remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn’t exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times up on that!”
Meanwhile, actress Violet Paley tweeted: “Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco. Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis & that other time you told my friend to come to your hotel when she was 17? After you had already been caught doing that to a different 17 year old?”
After Franco told Stephen Colbert that the allegations “are not accurate,” Tither-Kaplan and four other women accused the star of sexual misconduct in an LA Times report later in January 2018. The fallout was so swift that the next month Vanity Fair had Franco digitally removed from its annual Hollywood issue.
Some of the women from the Los Angles Times report went on to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against Franco in October 2019. A private settlement was reached in February 2021, although he maintained his innocence.
But last month, Franco came under fire for sexual misconduct again, this time from comedian Charlyne Yi, who posted on Instagram: “When I tried to break legal contract & quit Disaster Artist because James Franco is a sexual predator, [producers, including Rogen] tried to bribe me with a bigger acting role. I cried and told them that that was the exact opposite of what I wanted, that I didn’t feel safe working with a f–king sexual predator.”
Yi also mentioned Rogen’s “SNL” monologue, accusing him of “enabling Franco . . . Right after Franco was caught.”
Franco has also caught heat from his former “Freaks and Geeks” co-star Busy Philipps. In her 2018 memoir “This Will Only Hurt a Little,” she claimed that Franco — who she describes as a “f – – king bully” — once assaulted her on the set.
As part of the script, she was instructed to lightly hit Franco in the chest. Afterwards, she alleged that he blew up and attacked her: “He grabbed both my arms and screamed in my face, ‘DON’T EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN!’ ” Philipps wrote. “And he threw me to the ground. Flat on my back. Wind knocked out of me.”
Now the wind has been knocked out of Franco’s career, with even Rogen abandoning him. The last film they collaborated on was 2017’s “The Disaster Artist,” and the comedian told the Sunday Times it’s “not a coincidence” that the two are no longer working together after the allegations.
“What I can say is that I despise abuse and harassment and I would never cover or conceal the actions of someone doing it, or knowingly put someone in a situation where they were around someone like that,” Rogen told the Times, adding that he regrets his “terrible joke” on “SNL.”
“I can say it, um, you know, it has changed many things in our relationship and our dynamic.”