Daniel Franzese reveals constant homophobic harassment, ironically on the set of the movie “Bully.” Co-star Bijou Phillips apologizes.
BY VICTOR MELAMED
Motivated by Ellen Page’s recent account of homophobic abuse on the set of X-Men: The Last Stand by director Brett Ratner, actor and LGBT activist Daniel Franzese (Mean Girls) posted on his Facebook page last month a horrific account of harassment and bullying at the hands of actress Bijou Phillips, ironically during the shooting of the film Bully.
Bully, a 2001 psychological crime drama, featured Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner, Michael Pitt, Leo Fitzpatrick, Kelli Garner, and Nick Stahl. Based on the 1993 murder of Bobby Kent, the plot follows several young adults in South Florida who enact a murder plot against a mutual friend who has emotionally, physically and sexually abused them for years.
“On my first film Bully I was harassed by Bijou Phillips the entire shoot,” Franzese reveals. “She body shamed me and ridiculed me about my sexuality and physically assaulted me. 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, but some of my cast—like Michael Pitt and Brad Renfro—kept telling her to shut up but she continued to say ‘Are You Gay?!’ like 10 times, making sure to be loud enough for everyone to hear,” Franzese wrote.
“I reluctantly told her i was bi, which at the time was how I was choosing to identify as … 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!’”
“I was playing straight in the film, and in life, and was so fearful of my job because it was my first movie,” Franzese explains.
“Later on in the production I had a scene where my character had to take his shirt off. It was an extremely vulnerable moment for me because I was not at all the type of guy comfortable with taking my clothes off in front of anyone at that point in my life. I was the chubby kid who wore his shirt in the pool.”
“So I take my shirt off in the scene and she breaks character and she 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. They call cut and I had to walk off-set to collect myself. Brad Renfro (RIP) started crying and he followed me off-set, grabbed my face and kissed me. 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.
“When we shot one of our last scenes in a courtroom, she was walking around barefoot and the bottom of her feet were black with dirt. 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. To this day I’m not even sure if she gave me a concussion, because I was light-headed and dizzy for a while,” Franzese wrote.
After Francese’s post was picked up by the media—Phillips apologized.
She told TMZ that she was “mortified” by the account, explaining that she was “a teenager and reckless in my behavior,” and that she has “contacted Daniel and apologized to him privately.”