Reports surfaced on Thursday, courtesy of the teen's uploaded text messages, that the 35-year-old actor pursued Lucy Clode, a tourist from
Clode met the actor outside the Broadway stage door and tagged him (upon Franco's request) in her Instagram video. The two then began to flirt over social media, with Franco asking if Clode had a boyfriend, how old she was and if she wanted to meet.
The most cringe-worthy exchange?
"What's the hotel?" Franco texted the teen. "Should I rent a room?"
On Friday, Franco addressed the situation on live TV. "I'm embarrassed," Franco said on Live with Kelly and Michael. "I guess I'm just a model of how social media is tricky. It's a way people meet each other today." He added, "I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson."
The movie star said he was "doubly" embarrassed by the media glare. "I have a very good life," he said, "but not only do I have to go through the embarrassing rituals of meeting someone, sometimes if I do that, then it gets published for the world. So now it's doubly embarrassing."
Several sites have gone on to speculate if this is all part of a viral campaign for Franco's new movie,
If this is a hoax, it's a mighty elaborate one.