James Franco is apologizing for trying to hook up with a teenager!
"I'm embarrassed," said Franco. "I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson."
Here's the young lady at the center of the budding scandal. Her name is Lucy Clode and she's just 17.
Franco met her when she asked him for an autograph outside the Broadway Theater where he's starring in the play Of Mice and Men.
She recorded the moment on her cellphone when Franco said to her, "You gotta tag me!"
When the teenager posted the video on Instagram, Franco started texting her.
"Do you have a bf?" he asked.
"Not if you're around," Clode replied. And she doesn't hide her age.
"How long are you in New York?" he asked.
"...a few days. It's my 18th birthday present," she tells him.
"You're 18?" he asked.
"Nearly 18," she replied.
She told him she's a tourist from Scotland and she's here with her mom.
"Can I see you?" he asked. "What's the hotel? Should I rent a room?"
But Clode turned him down.
"I'll come back when I'm 18," she said.
The creepy conversation was leaked and Franco quickly went into damage control mode.
He looked sheepish when he appeared on Live With Kelly and Michael on Friday. Michael Strahan said, "You've been in the news this morning. It's our understanding that it's something you want to address."
Franco said, "I'm embarrassed. I guess I'm just a model of how social media is tricky. It's a way people meet each other today, but what I've learned, I guess because I'm new to it is, you don't know who's on the other end. You meet some person and you get a feel for them, but you don't know who you're talking to."
His embarrassment seems genuine, but to some, the whole thing is starting to smell, well, a little fishy. The scandal is making news just as the trailer for Franco's new movie Palo Alto, is released. And get this—Franco plays a high school soccer coach who seduces a 16-year-old student.
"Is this crazy James Franco story a viral campaign for his new movie?" asks Entertainment Weekly.
Don't forget, James Franco is a known prankster. Just last month he mocked the cover of Vogue magazine with the help of his buddy Seth Rogen.
INSIDE EDITION did a little digging. Lucy Clode claims to be from a small town in Scotland called Dollar. It exists, and the crest on her school uniform jacket is the real deal.
But if Franco really did try to pick up the teen, PR expert Mike Paul says the actor was excercising incredibly bad judgment.
Paul told INSIDE EDITION, "James, you're a 35-year-old man. This is a 17-year-old girl. Understand boundaries. You're an actor. You have many options. This is the wrong one."