Bijou Phillips has apologized after Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese alleged Phillips harassed him with homophobic comments and unwanted physical contact on the set of 2001’s Bully.
“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 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 said in a statement provided to 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. I have nothing but love for the LGBTQ community and Daniel.”
Reps for Phillips did not respond to EW’s request for comment.
Franzese, who starred as Damian in Mean Girls and on HBO’s Looking, shared a lengthy Facebook post over the weekend accusing Phillips of harssment.
Noting that he was inspired to share his story after Ellen Page came forward with allegations of “homophobic and abusive behavior” by director Brett Ratner on the set of X-Men: The Last Stand, Franzese alleged that Phillips “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 [film’s] poster. As we were shooting she kept loudly saying ‘Are you gay?!’ and laughing while the producers and photographer did nothing to stop her,” Franzese wrote, adding that some of his costars, like Michael Pitt and Brad Renfro, “kept telling her to shut up” but Phillips allegedly continued.
When Franzese reluctantly told Phillips he was bisexual, he continued, “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!’”
One scene in the film required Franzese’s character 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,” he wrote. “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.”
According to Franzese’s account, Phillips’ abuse later became physical. He wrote that she “grabbed my nipple and twisted it hard through my shirt” and, while filming one of their final scenes, “kicked me as hard as she could in the back of the head.”
The actor says he has seen Phillips a few times since and has “tolerated our obligatory greetings,” noting that she could be a different person today. Still, he still says that while the film helped start his career, it was “one of the most stressful experiences of my life.”
“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,” he wrote. “The way I was treated in that hostile work environment gave me a PTSD that had me stay closeted for a long time. 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. I love the movie and my other cast mates and crew but BULLY was one of the most stressful experiences of my life on or off a set and it was my first one.”