Demystifying James Franco’s Gay Art and His Relationship With Girlfriend Isabel Pakzad

James Franco’s has never confirmed speculations about him being gay and that might be because he is not. Although he is not yet married and has no children, for reasons he hasn’t disclosed, he is currently in a relationship with American actress Isabel Pakzad.

Since James Franco played Daniel Desario in “Freaks and Geeks”, a short-lived comedy-drama series that gained a cult following, he has been able to establish himself as a creative force in the movie industry, not only as an actor but also as a writer and filmmaker.

He has been a part of Hollywood since 1997 and is admired for the characters he has portrayed in films like “Spider-Man”, “127 Hours”, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, “Pineapple Express”, “Sausage Party”, “The Disaster Artist”, and much more.

While his role in 127 Hours, a 2010 biographical survival drama film earned him a nomination for Academy Award’s Best Actor, being Tommy Wiseau in 2017’s The Disaster Artist, another biographical film, won him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.

For an actor with such a robust resume that has earned him over 112 nominations for prestigious awards, out of which he has won at least 33, it would have been unusual if James Franco’s life outside his career hadn’t been a subject of a few speculations.

Over the years that have seen him popularize his name in the movie industry and indeed the world at large, the happenings in James’ love life have always been an interesting story for the media and the public.

He has been romantically linked to a handful of pretty women and has been accused by several of sexual misconduct but it hasn’t made people cease wondering if the actor is gay.

People Think James Franco Is Gay Because of His Unrelenting Support for The LGBT Community

Long before popular figures began supporting the LGBT community because it’s cool to do so, James Franco was known as someone who supports the community and advocates for their rights through his works and what have you. For this, he received the HBO Latin America Ally Award way back in 2013 at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

HBO Latin America takes pride in describing itself as an organization that is committed to supporting diversity and promoting equality of rights.

When it presented the Ally Award to James alongside Heather Winters, David W. Ross, and Travis Mathews for their contributions to the LGBT community, Franco was singled out and praised for promoting LGBT cinema and filmmaker’s right to free expression which facilitated the inclusion of more gay roles in TV series and movies.

Because of his unwavering support for the community, a lot of people have been curious about the actor’s sexuality. His goofball personality online has also made it difficult for people to see the actor as someone who doesn’t like men.

For instance, James Franco who’s also a painter once painted a naked Seth Rogan and went as far as taking queer studies course at New York University in addition to creating performance art projects about sexual confusion.

James has kept up with his queer public persona because he likes the fact that it’s hard for people to define him. Based on what he once shared, having people confused and in a situation where they have to guess about his sexuality gives him “time to play”.

He Has Also Played Several Gay Roles In Movies

Many actors have had their sexuality questioned for playing queer characters, so it is not surprising that James Franco has been subjected to this. He has played several gay characters, some of which included explicit scenes, and has come to be known as an actor who has built a brand out of his sexuality.

Sometime in December 2009, the actor appeared as a guest host on Saturday Night Live and made out with Will Forte in a kissing family sketch that involved serious tongue action. Even though it was all for comedy and Forte was playing Franco’s grandfather, the French-kiss was deemed too intense that it reignited questions about James’ sexuality which, to the best of our knowledge, first emerged in 2002.

In the said year, the actor portrayed a character named Danny in “Blind Spot”, a drama thriller written and directed by Stephan Woloszczuk. James Franco’s character in the gay indie film is a teenager in a relationship with an older man. Although the movie didn’t gain much traction, it marked the beginning of speculations about his sexual orientation.

Milk (2008), Howl (2010), and The Broken Tower (2011)

Sean Penn and James Franco in Milk
Sean Penn and James Franco in Milk

His next movie role that had people looking into his sexual preference was as Scott Smith in “Milk”, a 2008 biological film written by Dustin Lance Black and directed by Gus Van Sant. Based on the life of gay rights activist Harvey Milk, James portrayed the gay partner of the late politician, Scott Smith, who was Milk’s campaign manager and also a gay rights activist.

For his fine performance in the movie, James Franco received nominations for various awards like Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, and BFCA Critic’s Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor.

As a scene of the movie had James and Sean Penn who played Harvey Milk together in bed, it was another reason for people to suspect whether Franco is gay in real life.

His next portrayal of a gay character was in 2010’s Howl, a film directed and written by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Starring James Franco as the lead character, Allen Ginsberg, the role won the actor the Central Ohio Film Critics Award for Actor of the Year. Allen Ginsberg is best known for his poem “Howl” which captures his relationship with men and became the subject of the 1957 obscenity trial.

As he is remembered for championing discussions about homosexuality and campaigning for freedom of gay people, it doesn’t come as a surprise that playing him earned James an award nomination under Film Performance of the Year (Actor) category from the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association.

The following year, James Franco was seen playing yet another gay poet in “The Broken Tower”, a biological drama film he wrote, co-produced, and directed. The actor played Hart Crane in the 2011 film; he was an American poet who associated his vocation as a poet with being gay.

The Broken Tower has a strong gay-theme and depicts the several same-sex relationships that Crane had, including the one with Emil Opffer, a Danish merchant mariner. Michael Shannon played Opffer and he had stimulated sex on-screen with James Franco.

The scene gave critics a lot to talk about but James would insist that Crane was openly gay and, that he decided to spice up the dense poetry contained in the movies with some hot sex.

Interior. Leather Bar (2013), I Am Michael (2015), and King Cobra (2016)

In 2013, James Franco kept the speculations about his sexuality alive with the docufiction film titled “Interior. Leather Bar.” which he co-directed with Travis Mathews. The movie, which earned a nomination for the Cinema Eye Honors’ Heterodox Award, had James and Travis recreating the deleted sexually explicit footage from “Cruising”, a 1980 controversial film about gay men cruising for sex and a serial killer targeting them.

After that came “I Am Michael”, a 2015 biographical drama film that stars James Franco as Michael Glatze alongside Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts, and Charlie Carver. The film revolves around Michael Glatze, a former gay rights activist and co-founder of Young Gay America magazine who renounced homosexuality to become a pastor of an Evangelical church.

The role had James engage in a threesome on-screen and his performance earned him a Best Actor gong at FilmOut San Diego festival in 2015.

The following year, James Franco yet again portrayed another character who was gay in real life; this time it was as Joseph Kerekes in “King Cobra”, a biographical film about the former gay pornographic actor, Brent Corrigan. James co-produced the film wherein he plays Joseph Kerekes, one of the two people convicted for killing Bryan Kocis, a director of gay pornographic films famed for founding Cobra Video, a gay pornographic studio.

James Franco Says He’s Gay But Not to The Point of Intercourse

Given all the gay roles he has played and how well he portrayed the characters, it is not out of place that people have become curious about his sexual identity in real life. Instead of providing clear-cut answers when he is queried about this, the actor is fond of making statements about being a “gay cocktease” or being “a little gay”.

This has left many frustrated to point that he’s no longer regarded as an LGBT advocate in some quarters but someone who indulges in queerbaiting to remain relevant in the competitive industry.

As much as his preoccupation with homosexuality in real life and his career is now regarded as an unhealthy obsession that’s annoying, James has maintained that he doesn’t do what he does for attention but because he finds playing gay roles more interesting.

In a 2010 interview, the actor expressed that the history of cinema had been riddled with heterosexual love stories that hardly interest him. With that, he submitted that he finds roles about relationships that aren’t often portrayed fascinating.

In another interview the following year, the 127 Hours actor explained that there are other reasons why he likes playing gay characters other than his speculated innate desire to have sex with men.

Nothing that there were several aspects of the lives of the gay characters he had played that were of interest to him, James buttressed that he is particularly curious about how the characters contended with oppositions against their sexuality at a time when it was very difficult to be publicly gay.

But then, he said “maybe I’m just gay” at the end of his explanation which made many suggest that he was probably sexually confused.

In another instance that the actor had to confront questions about his sexual orientation and the gay roles he had played, James Franco stated that he is not on a mission to play as many gay roles as possible.

The actor divulged that he was excited to play characters like Allen Ginsberg because he’s one of his heroes. According to him, he fell in love with Allen’s work as a teenager and was enthusiastic about playing him was more about that rather than his sexuality.

In all, while James Franco has asserted that he isn’t gay, he acknowledges that something in him enables him to play gay roles convincingly. James shared this sentiment in 2015 when he proclaimed that he’s gay in his art and straight in real life.

Based on what the actor said, his sexuality depends on how one defines gay. He contended that people used to define homosexuality by how people behaved and not by whom they had sex with. On that premise, he stated that he’s gay in real life but not to the point of intercourse.

“If it [homosexuality] means whom you have sex with, I guess I’m straight,” he said.

Allegations of Sexual Misconduct and His Dating History Suggest He Is Straight

Judging by his movies, the things he says, and what he shares online, one would find reasons to believe the actor is either gay and closeted or sexually confused. But then, James Franco’s dating history and the sexual misconduct allegations hanging around his neck seem to agree with his assertions about being straight.

Sometime in 2014, actresses Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal dragged the Oscar-nominated actor to court for sexually exploiting women who attended his acting school. It was said that five women accused the actor of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior.

In addition to that, actresses like Ally Sheedy, Busy Philipps, and Amber Heard have suggested that the actor was kind of sexually abusive towards them. If the actor is truly a sexual predator as claimed, then it is only towards women as it has never been reported that any male accused him of sexual misconduct.

This is a fact that seems to validate the claim of him not being sexually attracted to men. And as you would soon learn, the actor’s dating history also supports the belief that he is not gay.

James Franco Is Currently Dating An American Actress Named Isabel Pakzad

  • Date of Birth: January 2, 1993
  • Age: 30 Years Old
  • Place of Birth: Tenafly, New Jersey
  • Nationality: United States of America
  • Occupation: Actress

Over the course of his career, that actor has dated several popular women but his current girlfriend isn’t well known to the public. While she is said to be an actress, Isabel Pakzad is mostly known for her relationship with the popular actor. Reports have it that the two have been dating since November 2017.

Born on the 2nd of January 1993, Isabel has been seen in films like “The Deuce” and “Birds of Prey”. From what we gathered, she is an American citizen as she was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, but is of Greek and Iranian descent.

It has also been reported in some quarters that Isabel’s father is late and that her mother Marie Pakzad lives with her current husband named Alex Kyriazis in New York.

If one must believe everything that has been reported about her, she is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University who also obtained a Master’s degree in Integrated Design, Business, and Technology from the University of Southern California.

Isabel Pakzad has been with the actor before the sexual misconduct allegations against him and they are still together.

They Made an Official Public Appearance In July 2018

James Franco and Isabel Pakzad have largely kept details about their relationship away from the public. As such, how they met and the circumstances that surround the beginning of their relationship have remained unknown to the public.

Nonetheless, we can tell they made their first official public appearance as a couple on the 23rd of July 2018 at the Hayes Theater. The two were seen at the red carpet opening night of Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men on Broadway.

That same year, the couple were seen at the SAG Awards all smiley and has continued making public appearances together. What they have seems to be serious and genuine as James gave a rare comment on the relationship, stating that he is working hard to be a better partner for Isabel.

Who Has James Franco Dated In The Past?

Details of James Franco’s love life before he became famous is best known to him but he has been in a relationship with several popular women in showbiz since his career took off, beginning with Marla Sokoloff.

Marla Sokoloff (1999 – 2002)

Marla Sokoloff is an American actress known for roles in small and big-screen projects like “The Practice”, “Full House”, “Fuller House”, “True Crime”, “Love on the Side”, and much more. She starred alongside James Franco in “Whatever It Takes”, a 2000 teen comedy film. It is believed that what the two had started on the set of the movie directed by David Raynr.

The actor said their relationship lasted for about four years and that they made a sex tape together.

Ashley Hartman (2004 – 2005)

Following the end of his relationship with Marla Sokoloff, James began dating another American actress named Ashley Hartman. More than being an actress, Ashley is also a singer and television personality.

She served as the host of several shows including MTV’s “Kiss & Tell: The Do’s and Don’t of Dating”. Details of the relationship are hard to come by probably because it was short-lived.

 Ahna O’Reilly (2006 – 2011)

Ahna O’Reilly is also an American actress and she is most known for playing Elizabeth Leefolt in the 2011 period drama film written and directed by Tate Taylor. Ahna got married to a producer named Dave Andron in January 2021. She dated James for five years and based on what the actor later disclosed, the relationship suffered and ultimately failed because of his busy schedule.

Agyness Deyn (2010 – 2011)

Agyness Deyn is an English actress but mostly known for her exploits in modeling. Her relationship with the actor came to light after he shared a series of videos of their trip together around Los Angeles.

The relationship was short-lived and the model got married to actor Giovanni Ribisi a year after she parted ways with James. The marriage ended in 2015 and the following year, she got married again to Joel McAndrew, a hedge fund manager based in New York.

Amanda Seyfried (2012 – 2013)

Amanda Seyfried began her career as a model and then transitioned into singing and acting. She has been a part of popular productions like “All My Children”, “Alpha Dog, and “Big Love” but is probably most known for “Mean Girl” and “Veronica Mars”.

The actress and the actor were co-stars in 2013’s “Lovelace”, a biographical drama film about porn actress Linda Lovelace. It is said that the two became fond of each other when they met on the set of the movie in 2012 and subsequently began dating. But it all came to an end in 2013.

Emilia Clarke (2013)

The same year his relationship with Amanda Seyfried packed up, James Franco reportedly began dating Emilia Clarke. She is a British actress famed for her lead role as Daenerys Targaryen in the popular fantasy drama series, “Game of Thrones”.

It is believed that it was “The Garden of Last Days” that brought the two together. James was to star and direct a film adaptation of the novel but he reportedly abandoned the project because of creative difference with Millennium Entertainment. The true nature of their relationship was never disclosed but it was said that James was madly in love with the Game of Thrones actress.

Erin Johnson (2014 – 2017)

Johnson was the last woman the actor dated before his relationship with Isabel Pakzad commenced. It is hard to tell exactly how their relationship began but rumors about the two started circulating after they were seen together at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Fans of the actor began striving to know who the mystery lady was and it was soon uncovered that she is a model. Just as how they met and started dating was never disclosed to the public, it is not known why they parted ways but it is believed that the relationship ended in 2017.

Apart from the women listed above, it is rumored that the actor had encounters with Amber Heard, Lana Del Rey, Sienna Miller, and Lindsay Lohan. Of all the people that have been romantically linked to the actor, none is male. Nothing suggests he is straight more than that. As the actor said, he’s only gay in his art.

Key Takeaways

  • There is no profound piece of evidence that supports the notion of James Franco being gay.
  • People suspect the actor is gay because of his many gay roles and support for the LGBT community.
  • James thinks he’s gay in real life but not to the point of having intercourse with men.
  • He is currently in a relationship with an American actress of Greek and Iranian descent named Isabel Pakzad.
  • The actor’s relationship history shows he has only dated women.


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