Actor Daniel Franzese, best known for playing Damian in the iconic 2004 masterpiece Mean Girls, has spoken out about homophobic abuse and body-shaming he experienced on the set of the 2001 film Bully.
“She body shamed me and ridiculed me about my sexuality and physically assaulted me. I was scared and closeted and feared for my job,” Franzese wrote.
“As we were shooting she kept loudly saying, ‘Are you gay?!’ and laughing while the producers and photographer did nothing to stop her.”
“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.”
“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!’”
In the film, Franzese has a shirtless scene which he says he found difficult because he “was not at all the type of guy comfortable with taking my clothes off in front of anyone at that point in my life” and that he “was the chubby kid who wore his shirt in the pool”.
He said when he was shooting the scene and took his shirt off, Phillips “pointed at my body and at the top of her lungs yelled, ‘Ewwww gross!!!’ She laughed and pointed at me and continued to berate me.”
Franzese says at the time he was comforted by his co-star Brad Renfro, who died of a drug overdose in 2008 after a troubled upbringing as a child star.
The post also describes an incident where Phillips physically assaulted Franzese while filming one of the movie’s final scenes in a court room.
“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.”
Phillips apologised to Franzese in a statement to TMZ, saying, “I want to write to address what Daniel has said. I don’t remember that time well, those years are a blur.
“I was a teenager and reckless in my behaviour. 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.”
Franzese, who also starred in the second season of Looking, yesterday tweeted that he had forgiven her.
“I shared this story only to bring light to a dark memory,” he said.
“This is not the only tale of horror or horrible people I have been around in the film industry.”
It was 18years ago. She has sent me an apology I accept. It would be nice to see her make a donation to @TrevorProject or something.
— Daniel Franzese (@WhatsupDanny) November 13, 2017
Phillips, best known for appearing in Almost Famous, is a prominent Scientologist in Hollywood alongside her husband Danny Masterson.
Just last week accusations that Masterson had raped four women resurfaced amidst the raft of assault and sexual abuse allegations coming out of Hollywood.
Franzese later tweeted about his attitude towards his body now.
“If anything comes of this: If you are afraid to take your shirt off in public. Please do it. For yourself. The sun feels good on a belly.”