Busy Philipps claims in her forthcoming memoir, This Will Only Hurt a Little, that James Franco physically assaulted her on the set of their cult comedy Freaks and Geeks, where they played a tumultuous high school couple onscreen.
In an excerpt leaked online Monday that The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed is authentic, Philipps alleges that Franco — whom she calls a “fucking bully” — pushed the actress after filming a scene. The short-lived NBC sitcom, which aired for one season from 1999-2000, was created by Paul Feig and executive produced by Judd Apatow.
In her book, Philipps remembers that the script called for her character, Kim Kelly, to gently nudge Franco’s Daniel Desario in the chest. Philipps writes that the scripted gesture caused Franco to get upset, after which he allegedly “threw” the actress to the ground in retaliation.
“He grabbed both my arms and screamed in my face, ‘DON’T EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN!'” Philipps writes in the book. “And he threw me to the ground. Flat on my back. Wind knocked out of me.”
Philipps goes on to say that she tearfully described the alleged incident to her other Freaks and Geeks co-star Linda Cardellini, who suggested that Philipps report what happened to her manager. Philipps writes that Franco eventually apologized after being told to do so by the episode’s director and producers. Though he was asked to say he was sorry, Philipps says that Franco was never punished for his alleged behavior.
When speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about her upcoming memoir and E! late-night talk show, Busy Tonight, Philipps said she and Franco have since discussed what happened on set and that he apologized.
“It wasn’t even outrageous. At the time, 19 and with my first professional acting job, I was under the impression that this was just the way things were,” she said. “James and I have talked about it over the years. At one point he apologized to me. I was always acutely aware of my expendability, and so I felt I needed to never complain, always show up on time and not be difficult. If someone else was being difficult, it was my job to be the easy one or figure out a way to soothe the situation.”
During a 2016 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Philipps had told host Andy Cohen about her previous confrontation with Franco on the set of Freaks and Geeks. During her chat with Cohen, the actress brought up Franco allegedly shoving her to the ground.
“When we were 19, we were on Freaks and Geeks and we really, really disliked each other. It’s well-documented,” Philipps said. “He, like, shoved me to the ground once. It was really brutal. But we’re friends now and we really like each other now as adults.” She added that though she and Franco “really didn’t get along,” they had “since made amends.”
The excerpt from Philipps’ book comes nearly nine months after Franco was accused of sexual misconduct by more than five women. The star of HBO’s The Deuce has denied the accusations, calling the accounts “not accurate.”
Aside from the assault she allegedly suffered at the hands of Franco, Philipps revealed days ago that her book will also detail her experience being raped at 14 years old. The actress shared her story last week, hours after Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whom Ford has accused of sexual assault. (Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations.)
“This is me at 14. The age I was raped. It’s taken me 25 years to say those words. I wrote about it in my book. I finally told my parents and sister about it 4 months ago,” Philipps wrote on Instagram, accompanied by what appears to be a school photo. “Today is the day we are silent no more. All of us. I’m scared to post this. I can’t imagine what Dr. Ford is feeling right now.”
THR has reached out to reps for Franco.
This Will Only Hurt a Little is due in stores Oct. 16.
Oct. 9, 7 a.m. Updated with Philipps’ quotes to THR.