Bijou Phillips Accused of Body-Shaming, Homophobic Harassment by 'Bully' Co-Star
"She body shamed me and ridiculed me about my sexuality and physically assaulted me," Daniel Franzese, known for his role in 'Mean Girls,' posted on Facebook.
Daniel Franzese, an actor whose credits include Mean Girls and HBO's Looking, has accused actress-singer Bijou Phillips of body-shaming him, mocking his sexuality and physically assaulting him on the set of their movie Bully.
Inspired by Ellen Page, who recently accused Brett Ratner of homophobic harassment on the set of the 2006 film X-Men: The Last Stand, Franzese alleged in a lengthy post on Facebook that Phillips "harassed [me during] the entire shoot" of their 2001 film.
"She body shamed me and ridiculed me about my sexuality and physically assaulted me," Franzese, who might be best recognized for his role as Cady's (Lindsay Lohan) close friend Damian in Mean Girls. "I was scared and closeted and feared for my job. It started with a lot of eye rolling whenever we spoke but escalated when we did a cast shoot for the poster. As we were shooting she kept loudly saying 'Are you gay?!' and laughing while the producers and photographer did nothing to stop her."
Franzese wrote that some of his co-stars, including Michael Pitt and the late Brad Renfro, defended him and "kept telling her to shut up," but he alleged that she didn't stop.
"[S]he continued to say 'Are You Gay?!' Like 10 times making sure to be loud enough for everyone to hear I reluctantly told her i was bi," he wrote. "Which at the time was how I was choosing to identify as 'Q' wasn't known to be an option yet and to be honest I don’t know that I had many gay experiences at the time my life. I was an extremely late bloomer. She cackled and said 'HA! He’s bi!' And then when I showed up to work the next day in front of the crew she was screaming 'Oh look! The Bi guy is here!'"
Calling the movie shoot "one of the most stressful experiences of my life on or off a set," Franzese went on to add that he was worried about losing his job, which marked his first film role, given that the character he was playing was straight. (Bully centers on a group of teenagers who conspire to murder one of their friends following years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. It's based on real-life events and adapted from the book Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge by Jim Schutze.)
Franzese added that he had a scene that required him to take his shirt off, "an extremely vulnerable moment for me," he said, calling himself "the chubby kid who wore his shirt in the pool." He claimed that when he took his shirt off, Phillips broke character, pointed at him and "at the top of her lungs yelled 'Ewwww gross!!!'" (He also was complimentary toward Renfro, who he said comforted him afterward and tried to boost his confidence and later yelled “Someone give me a real actress!" as Phillips allegedly continued her taunting.)
Franzese claimed that Bully co-star Nick Stahl, whom Phillips was dating at the time, convinced her to apologize after a long talk. He wrote that she did ultimately apologize, but he felt like it wasn't sincere.
"Later she pulled me aside and said 'I'm sorry if I offended you. You actually remind me of someone.' She said Carnie Wilson who is in her sisters band Wilson Phillips at the time was well know for her weight issues in the media. It was meant to be a insult," Franzese wrote. "She then grabbed my nipple and twisted it hard through my shirt and laughed and walked away. I stopped talking to her for the rest of filming."
He said during a later scene, while she was sitting behind him, she "kept rubbing her dirty feet on my neck. I kept swiveling the chair to move away from her and she kicked me as hard as she could in the back of the head. To this day I’m not even sure if she gave me a concussion because I was light headed and dizzy for a while."
While acknowledging that Phillips may be "a different person" today, Franzese added that that he's encountered Phillips on random occasions "and tolerated our obligatory greetings but I can’t imagine anyone who behaves that way in a work environment cares that there will be stories that are told about them later." He also said the experience resulted in "a PTSD that had me stay closeted for a long time." He said he's told his story to multiple reporters and on TV shows but that he feels like the story has either not been told properly or "never really been heard."
Reps for Phillips did not return The Hollywood Reporter's request for comment, but she told TMZ that, while she doesn't have clear memories of that time in her life, she has reached out to Franzese to apologize to him.
"Those years are a blur," she said. "I was a teenager and reckless in my behavior. I know Daniel to be a trustworthy and honest person, and to find out through social media that I was not the friend I thought I was to him made me so sad."
She added that she is "so mortified by this behavior" and denies that she's homophobic: "I have nothing but love for the LGBTQ community and Daniel."
For his part, Franzese tweeted last night that he forgives Phillips: "I forgive @BijouPhillips because I don’t know her private story either. I shared this story only to bring light to a dark memory."
Franzese's post comes months after the Los Angeles Police Department revealed that it was probing allegations of sexual assault against Phillips' husband, That '70s Show actor Danny Masterson. There also was a report of a possible cover-up by the Church of Scientology, but police did not address that in their statement released in March.
"The Los Angeles Police Department Robbery Homicide Division, Sexual Assault Section, is conducting an investigation involving the actor Danny Masterson. Three women have come forward and disclosed that they were sexually assaulted by Masterson during the early 2000s," read a statement from LAPD's robbery-homicide division.
Masterson has denied the allegations.
Updated 7:05 a.m. Monday, Nov. 13: Added Phillips' apology and Franzese's tweet.