Inspired by Ellen Page coming forward to reveal the homophobia and sexual harassment she received from director Brett Ratner on the set of X-Men: The Last Stand, Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese took to Facebook Saturday to discuss the harassment he allegedly experienced at the hands of actress Bijou Phillips while making 2001’s Bully.
“I am telling this story of homophobia and abuse because Ellen Page shared hers,” he wrote on Facebook. “On my first film BULLY I was harassed by Bijou Phillips the entire shoot. She body shamed me and ridiculed me about my sexuality and physically assaulted me. I was scared and closeted and feared for my job.”
According to the Recovery Road actor, Phillips started off their professional relationship by gleefully berating him about his sexuality. Much like Page, Franzese says he was not out at the time he was targeted, reluctantly telling Phillips he was bisexual, a descriptor she would use to mock him, along with insults about his weight. Franzese claims the comments eventually escalated to physical abuse, alleging Phillips twisted his nipple and, at one bizarre point, “kicked me as hard as she could in the back of the head.”
The actor also alleges Phillips burned the film’s costume designer with a cigarette and pelted her costume trailer with eggs. Despite the fact other actors, including co-stars Brad Renfro and Michael Pitt, expressed exasperation at Phillips’s behavior, no one in charge did anything to intervene.
“Brad Renfro (RIP) started crying and he followed me off set grabbed my face and kissed me,” Franzese recalls after one particularly cruel incident. “He told me not to listen to her that I was beautiful and such a great actor etc and i loved him and respected him so much for that moment.”
Opining that Phillips’s behavior ultimately affected her career, the actor concludes, “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. The way I was treated in that hostile work environment gave me a PTSD that had me stay closeted for a long time.”
As for why he’s coming forward with his account now, Franzese says this just might be the first time people are interesting in hearing it. Says the actor, “I have told this story to magazines, TV shows and Q&A’s but I feel like it is always cut out of the article or has never really been heard.”
[Editor's note: Phillips, whose husband Danny Masterson has been in the news after being accused by four women of sexual assault (he denies the allegations), spoke out on Monday."I don't remember that time well, those years are a blur," she told TMZ. "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... I am so mortified by this behavior and have contacted Daniel and apologized to him privately. I am not and never have been homophobic. I have nothing but love for the LGBTQ community and Daniel."]
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