Busy Philipps on Seth Rogen’s Split From James Franco
Chris Haston / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via Getty
One of the many joys contained in producer Tina Fey's hilarious new show Girls5eva is her meticulous dedication to recreating the very specific time of the turn of the millennium when the fictional girl group at the center of the show got the upper hand. Yet only one of the show's four stars was famous in 1999.
Paula Pell wrote for Saturday Night Live but was still years away from breaking out on the big screen. Sara Bareilles was five years from the release of her debut album and a decade from the first of many Grammy nominations. Renée Elise Goldsberry was still singing as a backup for Ally McBeal and wouldn't win a Tony Award for her role in Hamilton until 2016.
"But I've really been into pop culture," Busy Philipps tells me on this week's episode of The Last Laugh podcast.
At just 19, Philipps landed her first regular series role as Kim Kelly on Freaks and Geeks in the same year that the fake - albeit extremely catchy - song "Famous 5eva" topped the charts. The real parallels to her character Summer, who is aiming for a comeback in pop culture in her forties, can hardly be overlooked. It was only when she was filming the show last year that Philipps said it had "become so obvious" to her, "what it was really about".
"And I think that speaks for the sneakiness, the subversiveness of Tina's comedy, always and the projects she chooses to set her name and develop with people," explains Philipps. “Because the Logline is like the one-hit girl group of the 90s trying to make a comeback in their forties. And yet, this ridiculous joke-for-minute comedy is really about what it means to look back at your past and realize that as a woman you might not have as much control as you thought you had.
The busy Philipps was about to give up acting: "There weren't any jobs"
The process of reviewing the early days of her career began in earnest for Philipps when she began writing her best-selling memoir, This Will Only Hurt a Little. “They say that writing your memoir is like ten years of therapy in the time it will take you to write them, if you really get it right,” she says. “So it was intense. Although I had also done therapy for 10 years. "
The book is full of fun and painful stories from her two decades in show business, but the one that caught the most attention - to her obvious disappointment - is the chapter where she describes how James Franco described her on the set of Freaks Of. physically attacks geeks. “He grabbed me by both arms and shouted in my face: 'DON'T CHILL ME AGAIN!'” Recalls Philipps in the book. “And he threw me to the ground. Flat on my back Wind blew out of me. "
Despite the fact that he had publicly apologized to her for his behavior years earlier, the story exploded online, likely because it coincided with a wave of #MeToo allegations against the actor. I asked Philipps to talk about how Girls5eva's topics made her rethink the early part of her career, which included a layover at Dawson's Creek, and her reaction to her freak and geek's recent decision -Co-Stars Seth Rogen to announce cessation of work with Franco.
Below is an excerpt from our conversation and you can listen to it all - including the moment she realized she wanted to quit acting and how she dealt with the early cancellation of her late night show - now by following The Subscribe to Last Laugh on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts and be the first to hear new episodes every Tuesday.
I want to talk a little bit about Freaks and Geeks where you were 20 years ago in the time the show represents in the past. I'm curious to see how you feel about this show now because you're talking about how you rethought some of those early times. Do you think differently about it now than maybe then or in the following years?
I mean, Freaks and Geeks is less to blame - the show itself and the people who ran it. It was more the industry in general. Indeed, I think Paul [Feig] and Judd [Apatow] tried in their own way to protect Linda [Cardellini] and myself from much of the insidious messages that are being sent to young women and teenagers on TV shows. Because I remember Paul talking to us about it, I don't want you to think there are any diets or anything. I'm sure it wasn't the most convenient for a 32 year old man to talk to these 19 and 21 year olds.
And it was lucky that the characters you both played weren't supposed to be those perfect people.
Well, sure, Matt, but that sucks too! I mean, objectively, I'm very attractive. You know what I mean?
I didn't mean it in terms of looks, but more of the characters you played.
No, no, no, I know, but I say like, think about how a 19 year old girl, woman, young person tries to invade Hollywood and they all say, “But the great thing is, you have to don't even worry because you are like a normal person! "
That it should be very real was my point.
Naturally! One hundred percent. But literally Linda found an article, a review by Freaks and Geeks, and showed it to me when it first started, and there was a line like, "This is not Dawson's Creek or the WB, you won't find pretty faces here "And that was always the message I was told for years that I wasn't thin enough and traditionally not pretty enough. I mean, when I got to Dawson's Creek, there was this whole discussion about the moles on my neck and mine Face. And they tried to cover it with makeup. It was an instruction from the network. I think they found it offensive. My skin offended them. But it was so wild for me. These messages came from freaks and So geeks not necessarily out of the house, but they were certainly only there and understood by anyone who paid attention.
Actors and activists Busy Philipps and Elizabeth Banks attend an abortion rights rally outside the Supreme Court while judges hear oral arguments on the case on March 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
So I really don't want to get into the story you told about James Franco in your book. I know that got a lot of attention and you made it very clear that you weren't happy with how much it overtook everything. The only thing I want to ask because this happened recently is that Seth Rogen was on his book tour and said for the first time, in a way he had never done before, that he would not work with James Franco again . And I'm curious what you made of it.
I have to say I mean it's interesting. They were very close and had a very close relationship. And that's why I have no information. I mean, I'm going to say something now, whatever - Seth is married to a damn smart woman.
I guess the question is, were you surprised? Because I was surprised he said he wouldn't work with James Franco anymore just because he didn't say that a year ago, two years ago.
I think I was surprised. Though, to be honest, I haven't spent my days delving deep into what it all was. I stopped working with James over the age of 20 so I can only speak to the horrific behavior I experienced.
Well, there were clearly other horrific behaviors that have happened, according to other people who have worked with them.
Sure, I mean that sounds very believable. And I can't speculate about their friendship, but I wouldn't want to work with someone who has multiple allegations of predatory behavior. So actually I won't do it.
Do you find it encouraging that there has been so much talk about #MeToo billing and that things are really changing? I think there is a certain amount of skepticism as to whether that is true or not. How do you see it Do you feel like things are actually changing in Hollywood?
I dont know. Here, too, I think that I am not at risk at this point. I'm a nearly 42 year old woman who wrote a book where I mentioned the names of the people who fuck my cock. So I don't think I'm the right person to ask if the industry has changed. Because I would assume people will be smart enough not to fuck with me. But neither am I ingenuity who comes on stage, or a young woman who comes on stage, who wants to work and make it happen. The predators are certainly still around, and thank God some of the big ones have been exterminated, but I don't know whether there will be any reckoning.
Next week on The Last Laugh podcast: The creator and star of Tooning Out the News, R.J. Fried.
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