Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese gets apology for bullying on set of 2001 film
Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese has received an apology from Bijou Phillips, after he accused her of bullying on the set of a film they starred in in 2001.
The pair starred in independent film ‘Bully’ before Franzese went on to star as Damian in the hit ‘Mean Girls’.
Franzese made the accusation in a Facebook post on Saturday, accusing Phillips of homophobic bullying.
He was not out of the closet at the time and came out as gay in 2014.
The ‘Looking’ star says he kept quiet about the abuse because he was not out of the closet at the time.
“It was such a blessing to get a foot into Hollywood’s door but I was greeted at that door with homophobia, body shaming and abuse,” Franzese wrote on Facebook.
“The way I was treated in that hostile work environment gave me a PTSD that had me stay closeted for a long time.”
He said he was harassed by Phillips even before filming started, during a photoshoot for the ‘Bully’ poster.
“She kept loudly saying ‘Are you gay?!’ and laughing while the producers and photographer did nothing to stop her,” he wrote.
“She 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. 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,” Franzese added.
“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!’”
Franzese also said Phillips mocked him for his weight, and laughed at him during a shirtless scene.
He said he felt “extremely vulnerable” at the time, and that he was later physically bullied by her.
“She was sitting behind me and 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,” he wrote.
“To this day I’m not even sure if she gave me a concussion because I was light headed and dizzy for a while.”
Phillips has publicly and privately apologised to Franzese, but said she had no recollection of the bullying.
“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,” Phillips told TMZ.
“I am so mortified by this behavior and have contacted Daniel and apologized to him privately. I am not and never have been homophobic,” she added in her apology.
“I have nothing but love for the LGBTQ community and Daniel.”
Franzese tweeted to say that he accepted the apology from Phillips.
Mean Girls alumni Daniel Franzese announced his engagement to his boyfriend Joseph Bradley Phillips last year.
Franzese – who played Damian in the 2004 Lindsay Lohan comedy – confirmed the news on Instagram, writing: “You guys! @joeylovesthat and I are getting married!”
He added ‘Starbucks’ as a location – after the pair met for the first time in the coffee shop two years ago.
The 38-year-old star came out in 2014 in a letter to his former character, writing that he was “terrified” to play a gay teen before accepting his own sexuality.
“When I was cast in the role of ‘Damian’ in Mean Girls, I was TERRIFIED to play this part. But this was a natural and true representation of a gay teenager – a character we laughed with instead of at,” he wrote at the time.
“However, I did turn down many offers to play flamboyant, feather-boa-slinging stereotypes that always seemed to be laughed at BECAUSE they were gay.
“How could I go from playing an inspirational, progressive gay youth to the embarrassing, cliched butt-of-a-joke?”
Franzese later claimed that gay characters have become better-written since he appeared in the cult classic over a decade ago.
“The [gay] roles that are being written now are different than they were 10 years ago. They’re complex, intriguing people, whether gay or not.”
“What got me over my nervousness of playing Damian was that it wasn’t cliché and it was forward-moving,” he added.
The actor also recently recorded a viral parody of a Sam Smith song, racking up over 1 million views with a ballad about trying to get a gay one-night-stand to leave.