In her upcoming memoir, Busy Philipps describes James Franco as a bully and recounts an incident on the set of Freaks & Geeks where he shoves her.
During filming of the cult show back in 1999, there was a scene where Philipps’ character Kim gently hits Franco’s character, Daniel. In her memoir, Philipps’ describes Franco’s response:
“He grabbed both my arms and screamed in my face, ‘DON’T EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN!’ And he threw me to the ground. Flat on my back. Wind knocked out of me.”
Apparently he apologised the following day, but was never disciplined by the showrunners.
As Jezebel points out, Philipps hasn’t kept this incident a secret by any means – she talked about it with Andy Cohen back in 2016, where she described Franco as the most difficult celebrity she’s ever worked with. She also mentioned the incident on the set of Freaks & Geeks, saying “He, like, shoved me to the ground once. It was really brutal.”
Will this kickstart the #MeToo conversation about Franco? Because five women accusing him of inappropriate and sexually exploitative behaviour back in January didn’t really stick. Neither did the reports of him trying to use Instagram to meet up with a 17-year-old girl – but that was back in 2014, before #MeToo, before we knew better (apparently), as were Busy’s previous comments about Franco’s behaviour on set.
For that reason, four former students and one former mentee of Franco’s describing inappropriate behaviour in The Los Angeles Times barely affected his career. Less than a month later, it was announced that he was returning to The Deuce in its second season.
So will this be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Now that a famous woman has detailed her experiences with Franco (again), will things change for him?
Franco’s attorney disputed all of the allegations in the LA Times article, and directed the reporters to comments Franco made on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:
“Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done. I have to do that to maintain my well being. The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate. But I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So I don’t want to shut them down in any way.
“If I have done something wrong, I will fix it — I have to.”
Comments like this, about taking responsibility and being willing to fix things if he has done something wrong, combined with the support he showed for #TimesUp when he sported one of their pins at the Golden Globes, mean that it’s been easy for everyone to focus on other allegations – allegations made against people who haven’t expressed support for the movement.
Critics of #MeToo have been quick to compare any and all other allegations to those made against Weinstein. They want us to think that Weinstein’s actions are the benchmark against which all other allegations should be measured; that if someone’s actions aren’t as bad as what Weinstein did, the consequences shouldn’t derail their career.
Someone’s actions shouldn’t have to be monstrous and shouldn’t have to have affected dozens of people before we feel comfortable enough to scrutinise and pay attention to such allegations. One person’s claims of suffering at the hands of another should be enough to get our attention.