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Busy Phillips says James Franco assaulted her when they were in Freaks and Geeks

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Moya Crockett
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Busy Phillips says James Franco assaulted her when they were in Freaks and Geeks

In an extract from her new book, Busy Phillips describes her former co-star James Franco as a “f***ing bully”.

Back in 1999, a 20-year-old Busy Phillips and a 21-year-old James Franco starred alongside one another in the high school sitcom Freaks and Geeks. Despite only running for one season, the show has gone on to accrue cult status, in part due to the long list of now-notable names who worked on it. It was created by Paul Feig, today best known for his work on Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters and A Simple Favour, executive-produced by Judd Apatow (Girls, Knocked Up, Love) and co-starred a young Seth Rogen and Jason Segel.

But according to Phillips, life on the set of Freaks and Geeks wasn’t always enjoyable. In an extract from her forthcoming memoir This Will Only Hurt a Little, obtained by Yahoo Entertainment, Phillips describes Franco as a “f***ing bully” and claims that he physically assaulted her while they were filming a scene.

Phillips says that during filming, she was instructed to gently hit Franco in the chest while delivering a line. (Their respective characters, Kim Kelly and Daniel Desario, were in a tempestuous on-off relationship throughout the series.)

Although Phillips’ light shove was part of the scene, it apparently enraged Franco, who allegedly broke out of character and “threw [her] to the ground”. 

Busy Phillips says James Franco assaulted her when they were in Freaks and Geeks

James Franco and Busy Phillips (left) as Daniel Desario and Kim Kelly in Freaks and Geeks in 1999

“He grabbed both my arms and screamed in my face, ‘DON’T EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN!’” Phillips writes. “And he threw me to the ground. Flat on my back. Wind knocked out of me.”

Members of the wider Freaks and Geeks cast and crew were horrified, Phillips says, and her co-star Linda Cardellini told her to call her manager about what Franco had done.

The next day, Franco reportedly apologised for his actions after being ordered to do so by Freaks and Geeks’ directors and producers, although Phillips says he was never actually punished for his alleged behaviour.

Phillips recently spoke out about another assault from her past, this time sexual rather than physical. Amid the allegations of sexual assault made against the now-US Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Phillips wrote on Instagram that she had been raped as a young teenager.

“This is me at 14. The age I was raped. It’s taken me 25 years to say those words,” she wrote in the caption accompanying an old photo.

“I wrote about it in my book. I finally told my parents and sister about it 4 months ago. Today is the day we are silent no more. All of us.

“I’m scared to post this,” she continued. “I can’t imagine what Dr [Christine Blasey] Ford is feeling right now.”

Busy Phillips says James Franco assaulted her when they were in Freaks and Geeks

Busy Phillips in 2018 

For Franco’s part, this is not the first time that he has been accused of treating women poorly in the last year or so. Five women came forward back in January to accuse the actor of sexual misconduct, including allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour on film sets. 

The women said they had been motivated to speak out after Franco wore a Time’s Up pin to the Golden Globes.

Franco described the women’s allegations were “not accurate”, but said he would not try and “shut them down in any way” out of respect for the #MeToo movement.

“I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long,” he said, adding: “If I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it.”

Images: Getty Images 

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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