‘Freaks and Geeks’: Are James Franco and Busy Philipps Friends?

Any fan of Freaks and Geeks knows about the tumultuous relationship between Kim Kelly and Daniel Desario. Yet as it turns out, the relationship between James Franco and Busy Philipps was just as volatile behind the scenes. In Philipps’ recently published memoir, she details how their dynamic led to some serious tension off-screen. But after all that trouble, have the actors made amends?

James Franco as Daniel Desario, Busy Philipps as Kim Kelly, Seth Rogen as Ken Miller, Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir, Jason Segel as Nick Andopolis
James Franco as Daniel Desario, Busy Philipps as Kim Kelly, Seth Rogen as Ken Miller, Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir, Jason Segel as Nick Andopolis | NBCU Photo Bank

What happened between James Franco and Busy Philipps on ‘Freaks and Geeks’?

In Philipps’ recently published memoir, she talks about how Franco bullied her behind the scenes of Freaks and Geeks. She says that the actor would try to steal her lines from the script and that he would frequently ignore her on set. This took a toll on Philipps’ self-esteem, yet she felt that she wasn’t allowed to complain if she wanted to keep her job.

James Franco as Daniel Desario, Busy Philipps as Kim Kelly
James Franco as Daniel Desario, Busy Philipps as Kim Kelly | NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

But things took a turn for the worse when Franco physically attacked Philipps. During a scene where her character is supposed to slap Daniel on the chest, Franco interfered with the scene by grabbing Philipps and shoving her to the ground. The incident ended up knocking the wind out of her and left her sobbing uncontrollably.

Yet, according to Philipps, she did her best not to complain about the physical attack because she wanted to keep her job. “During my twenty years working as an actress, there were times I even went along with being mildly bullied on set, not wanting to make a big deal out of something,” she writes. “I was a girl who could work within the incredibly sexist system that was set up, a girl who could take it.”

“No matter what,” Philipps continues, “I was working in a boys’ club, and that’s just the way things were.”

Are James Franco and Busy Philipps friends now?

RELATED: ‘Freaks and Geeks’: Busy Philipps Opens up About the Sexism She Experienced on set

Decades have passed since the tumultuous bullying between Franco and Philipps on the set of Freaks and Geeks. And when Phillips was asked on Watch What Happens Live, “Who was the most difficult actor you ever had to work with?” It’s no surprise that she chose Franco.

“Well at the time, but we’ve since made amends, James Franco and I really didn’t get along,” she answers. “When we were nineteen, and we were on Freaks and Geeks, we really really disliked each other. He shoved me to the ground once. It was really brutal.”

Yet she finishes her comment by saying, “But we’re friends now. We like each other now, as adults. But as kids, we did not get along.”

Busy Philipps says James Franco apologized to her after the incident

After Franco shoved Philipps to the ground, Judd Apatow made him apologize to his co-star. According to Philipps, it was “barely a slap on the wrist.”

She describes the incident in her book, writing, “James found me and said he was sorry. He said he didn’t like that Daniel was always getting hit by his girlfriend or something, and he reacted badly. James told me Judd had him watch the tape, and it was pretty mean.’ And then he smiled at me and hugged me, and I don’t need to tell you this, but James is a f*cking movie star. He was horrible to me, yes, but he’s also gorgeous and charming as hell. That’s where the manipulation lives.”

Philipps continues, saying, “These dudes so often get away with their sh*tty behavior because they smile at you and stare into your eyes, and for a second you’re transfixed, and you just say, ‘Yeah. It’s OK. I get it. You were in the moment. I’m sorry I don’t understand. I’m sorry I’m not a better actor. Sorry, I’m not a prettier girl. I’m sorry.’ And you accept their apology and somehow end up apologizing to them.”