Busy Philipps: James Franco violently threw me to the ground during ‘Freaks & Geeks’

"Freaks and Geeks" 1999

Did you know Busy Philipps is releasing a memoir? It’s called This Will Only Hurt a Little, and it’s about her Hollywood years and a lot more. Included in her memoir are stories about her time on the one-season wonder Freaks and Geeks, which is something of a cult classic at this point. While the show was canceled in its first season, it’s widely credited for launching the careers of its stars, including Busy, James Franco, Linda Cardellini and Jason Segel. In fact, Busy has told some stories about James Franco before in interviews, but apparently she spills all in her memoir. I believe her too – Franco got outed as a serial harasser/predator earlier this year, and it felt like it was a long time coming, and that a lot of women in Hollywood probably have some kind of sh-tty Franco story. Here’s what Busy had to say:

In a new excerpt from her upcoming memoir, This Will Only Hurt a Little, obtained by Yahoo Entertainment, Busy Philipps is claiming her Freaks and Greeks co-star James Franco assaulted her while they were filming a scene for the series. As Philipps remembers, the scene required her character to gently hit Franco in his chest during their lines of dialogue. Franco was caught off guard that this directive was included in the script, and subsequently broke character to yell at Philipps. “He grabbed both my arms and screamed in my face, ‘DON’T EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN!’” she wrote. “And he threw me to the ground. Flat on my back. Wind knocked out of me.” Philipps also described Franco as being a “f–king bully” throughout their Freaks and Geeks experience.

After the assault, Philipps said she cried in front of fellow co-star Linda Cardellini, who advised her to report what happened to her manager. She didn’t, though, as Franco apologized to her the following day — after being forced to do so by the show’s producers and director. Philipps notes, though, that Franco was never formally reprimanded for his actions and continued to work without consequence. Earlier this year, five women accused Franco of various instances of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior. He has maintained that these allegations are “not accurate”, although he will not “actively refute” them so their voices can be heard.

[From Vulture]

Do you know how hard you have to shove/throw someone to knock them over flat on their back, and knock the wind out of them? HARD. You have to shove someone really violently. And I wish she would have reported him, but truly, this was one of her first jobs, she was about 20 years old, and the men around her – the producers and director – already knew that it happened, and all they did was make Franco “apologize.” What horsesh-t. Also: I could totally see how Franco could be described as a “bully” – he seems like the kind of guy who thinks everything he does is brilliant and “ironic,” therefore he can’t be a bully, because he’s just being an a–hole IRONICALLY.


Tough guy James Franco swaps his folded newspaper for a biography of Joe Papp between takes on the set of HBO hit series 'The Deuce' in Bayridge, Brooklyn

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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27 Responses to “Busy Philipps: James Franco violently threw me to the ground during ‘Freaks & Geeks’”

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  1. Jen says:

    Wow. Busy is not a short, petite person, either. I’m about her size/height and you’d have to push me pretty damn hard to get me to fall on my back-this wasn’t someone lightly pushing someone else off of them, this was someone trying to cause harm. That’s awful.

  2. Clare says:

    F James Franco – but it is also the responsibility of the producer/director to ensure that ALL participants are aware and on board if a scene requires physical contact. Whether it be a kiss, a pat on the head or a light shove to the chest – physical contact without consent from all involved (including men) is not cool.

    But I repeat, F James Franco. I hope Busy’s memoir brings some kind of repercussions for him.

    • tealily says:

      Surely if it was in the the script he would have been expecting it though. If he was uncomfortable with that part of the script, he should have spoken to Phillips and/or the director about it before they shot the scene, not assaulted her for doing her job. (I know you aren’t saying he was justified in doing that.)

  3. Sash says:


    I like Busy. She has no filter but she doesn’t annoy me like, say, Kristen Bell does.

  4. Beatrix says:

    Disgusting. Really happy she felt comfortable finally sharing this story to help solidify Franco’s deuschbaggery and continue to out him as an utter stinkbag of a human person.

  5. Erinn says:

    Ugh. I loved that show. Still love it. But this makes me so angry. The one part that did give me some hope is that Linda stood behind her and urged her to report it, even if she didn’t in the end.

    I feel bad for the younger kids on set – I suspect Franco was probably even worse to them, since they were younger and smaller.

    • lucy2 says:

      The younger kids were all boys.
      Given his issues with women, I wouldn’t be surprised if he treated them just fine while being awful to Busy and the other girls.

      • hmmm says:

        Lucy2 is correct. I used to know him. His behavior is particularly bad to girls, especially those he feels he can easily intimidate, or anyone he feels has slighted him. He is an absolute charmer to anyone he feels is above him on the power spectrum, or anybody he wants something from.

  6. Mia4s says:

    Just to be clear again, no project involving James Franco gets a cent of my money…ever. He’s an abuser and a garbage human being.

    Hey Judd Apatow, thank you for being such an outspoken ally. So anything to say about your buddy Franco now….anything? Still nothing? Are you busy? How about you Seth Rogen? Still want to work with him again? No comment? On vacation I guess? 🙄

  7. Case says:

    Gross, but unsurprising. He should’ve been formally punished.

  8. Lala11_7 says:

    Franco subscribes to the “Brando/Dean Terrorizing Co-Stars While You’re Making A Production” ethic …and folks let him get away with that crap….and I say it was CRAP back in Brando’s day…and it’s CRAP NOW! If you have to violate my body and soul in order to elicit a realistic performance…then YOU DOING WAY TOO MUCH! One of my FAVORITE stories regarding Hollywood is when Sir Laurence Oliver had to put Dustin Hoffman in his place during the making of “Marathon Man” cause Dustin…was DOING WAY TOO MUCH to stay in character…and Sir Laurence was like…

    “Why don’t you just try acting”

    The most HEARTBREAKING part of this whole thing…is why Busy didn’t want to say anything…because she KNEW how expendable she was…

    Walking into the door on day one and ALREADY knowing you’re…”Less than”….

    Yoko Ono was right….

  9. Patty says:

    There’s been another rumor going around for years that this happened when Busy tried to jump on Franco’s back for an uninvited piggy back ride and he threw her off. Either way, it seems to be an issue that a) a director would advise an actor to physically touch a costar without the other persons knowledge and consent and b) James Franco must have some serious issues because that was an over-reaction.

    Also there’s another version of this story going around that says the directive was not in the script.

    Also, Yoko Ono was right about what? I hope you aren’t talking about that mess that Bette Midler stepped in becaise it’s such an offensive concept and basically washes away the humanity of actual black women.

  10. Renee2 says:

    I never have liked James Franco. Never. He always came back of as insincere to me, and it’s reflected in his work, he is not a “good actor” but is a good mimic, he gives a good impression of how a person would act in a given scenario.

    Not a fan of Busy either but I am so sorry to hear that this happened. That must have been extremely frightening for her, especially at that age. Ugh, this guy needs to be over.

  11. Steff says:

    Franco is the poster child for the untalented white male scraping by on his name, giving little to no effort in whatever he does, all the while harassing and abusing women, and given a pass for everything. God remember the stories about him at NYU? Insufferable.

    I think I heard her tell this story before but not at length. Maybe it’s because she’s Michelle Williams’ best friend and she usually plays the friend role in movies and tv, but Busy seems like a cool person to be friends with. Also, when is her talk show going to start?

  12. Caitlin Bruce says:

    She has told this story before but I can’t remember where? She’s made in pretty obvious that her and James hated each other on set (not that I can blame her) He thinks being “method” means he can go around bullying people in the name of “art”. On another note I’m interested in seeing if she has any good Dawson’s Creek tea so I’ve pre-ordered her book.

    • Cay says:

      She said this 2 years ago on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. She talked about him shoving her to the ground and how much they disliked each other. She said they get along now, but they hated each other while filming F&G.

  13. Grey says:

    So…she was hitting him and no one told him she was supposed to. I’d knock down anyone who touched me as well. It’s called PTSD – don’t fucking touch me.

    • lucy2 says:

      According to her, it was in the script and was required of her. Somewhere along the line there was a breakdown of communication. If he really didn’t know, I can understand him being upset, but grabbing her and throwing her down is NOT the appropriate response.

    • pinetree13 says:

      Hey that’s not fair, I also have PTSD but I’d never hit anyone and it was in their script which he would have had a copy of. Throwing someone smaller than you violently down on the ground isn’t okay just cause they hit you either. That is a way over reaction. If someone bumps into me in the super market it doesn’t mean i get to smack them

    • sunshine gold says:

      Or he could have read the script ahead of time and told someone he couldn’t handle it.

  14. sassbr says:

    I had some friends at NYU around the same time he was there very famously getting another degree, the press was something along the lines of “James Franco is a handsome movie star and smar blah blah.” I would go to parties there sometimes.
    1) He had a professor fired for daring to give him a D grade for attendance. He replaced the fired professor with his own buddy.
    2) He would hang around parties drinking with college age girls. I cannot believe nothing has come out about him from that alone. He was super gross and would just hang off them. It was disgusting.

  15. Aubrey says:

    This is crazy. I feel for her. I’m not surprised.

  16. Yes Doubtful says:

    It makes me sad that the boys club Franco is apart of who work together a lot (Rogen, Judd, Segel) all seem to be buddy buddy with him and also claim to be liberal and support women. He’s not a good guy.

  17. Susan says:

    Wow, Franco was a nobody when he was on this and the show wasn’t pulling down big ratings. How do these men even fund the nerve to act like psychotic divas on set in those situations. That should have ended his career in a just world and he should gone by the wayside like that Alex guy.

  18. SK says:

    Don’t forget Seth Rogen! This was his first job too!

    Franco is a fool, that much is obvious. Also someone who shows one face to some people and a completely different face to others – a Janus.

    It annoys me that Rogen and Appatow continue to work with him despite the fact that they must have witnessed him behaving like this.

  19. Christo says:

    Not a fan of hers. Her attempts at social media relevance and feigned disgust at those who leave comments about her sadly make her recent pronouncements ring hollow and desperate even if true.