TV Critic’s Corner

In memoir, Busy Philipps claims James Franco assaulted her on set of ‘Freaks and Geeks’

“This Will Only Hurt a Little” author Busy Philipps
Lisa O’Connor/AFP/Getty Images
“This Will Only Hurt a Little” author Busy Philipps

Busy Philipps has a memoir on the way next week, and a talk show due at the end of the month on E! In the meantime, there is dish.

I’ve liked Philipps since her perfectly pitched turn as Kim Kelly on “Freaks and Geeks,” a bullied bully in an unstable relationship with James Franco’s Daniel Dasario. Kim and Daniel were the freaks into whose orbit our heroine, Lindsay (Linda Cardellini), was drawn. But it turns out that, while the show was a one-season wonder, Philipps’s working relationship with Franco was not wonderful. In her memoir, “This Will Only Hurt a Little,” Philipps calls Franco a “bully,” with an unprintable adjective before the word.

During the filming of a scene, she claims, he assaulted her. She’d been directed to gently hit him on the chest during one of her lines, but when she did he got extremely upset. “He grabbed both my arms and screamed in my face, ‘DON’T EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN!’ ” she writes. “And he threw me to the ground. Flat on my back. Wind knocked out of me.”


Philipps was upset, and she called her manager. The next day, Franco was told by the director and the producers to apologize, which he did. But he was never punished, according to Philipps. In 2016, Philipps told “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen that she and Franco “really, really disliked each other.”

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This week, Philipps expanded on her feelings in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “At the time, 19 and with my first professional acting job, I was under the impression that this was just the way things were,” she said. “James and I have talked about it over the years. At one point he apologized to me. I was always acutely aware of my expendability, and so I felt I needed to never complain, always show up on time and not be difficult. If someone else was being difficult, it was my job to be the easy one or figure out a way to soothe the situation.”

This isn’t the first time Franco has been charged with bad behavior. In 2014, a series of texts showed him trying to seduce a 17-year-old Scottish girl he met outside a Broadway theater. And early this year, he was accused of sexual misconduct by four students at the film school he founded and one woman who said he was her mentor. Franco has denied the allegations.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.