heather matarazzo
heather matarazzo

Actress Heather Matarazzo Tells Daniel Franzese That Bijou Phillips Once Strangled Her

On the most recent episode of Shut Up and Listen, the podcast of 35-year-old lesbian American actress Heather Matarazzo — best known for playing dorky girl Dawn Wiener in the 1995 dark comedy Welcome to the Dollhouse — told gay actor Daniel Franzese that actress Bijou Phillips strangled her just before they filmed the 2007 horror film Hostel: Part II. About a week ago, Franzese wrote that Phillips had bullied and physically attacked him while shooting the 2001 dramatic film Bully. 

Heather Matarazzo said that the day before they started shooting, she and Phillips were at a pre-shoot “get to know you” party on location in Prague. At the time, Matarazzo wasn’t drinking (she had been sober for about a year) and felt awkward at the mixer because she “isn’t an extrovert.”

Matarazzo said:

I remember the grey gloves. I remember the grey gloves. [Phillips] had thrown me up against a wall and put her hands around my neck and started choking me and choked me for a good 15, 20 seconds. And said, because she knew that I was sober based upon when we’d gotten there, we’d been offered pills by one of the producers to help us sleep, from the jet lag and the time difference. And I was like, ‘No, I don’t…. nope.’ I kept on getting offered and offered until I was like, “I’m sober, I don’t do that.” And so that night, when she had thrown me up against the wall and like, I mean I’ve experienced some horrifying moments in my life and I count that to be one of them.

Matarazzo claims that Phillips said to her, “I’m going to make sure that you relapse on this film.” Matarazzo says she didn’t relapse during the shoot, nor did she tell the producers or the film’s director.

Calling herself “her own biggest gaslighter” (that is, someone who convinces another person that what’s happening is not really happening), Matarazzo said that she basically convinced herself that her privilege made what was happening to her an unreal possibility. The fact that she and Phillips were both white actresses also muddled her feelings about the assault, Matarazzo said.

Before Heather Matarazzo shared her experience, Franzese talked about the reactions people have had to his recent revelations that Phillips abused, fat-shamed and made bi-phobic insults to him while working on the set of Bully. 

Franzese told Matarazzo that although most of the feedback he has gotten has been supportive and positive, “A lot of the feedback that I’ve gotten from this situation is, like, ‘Be a man. Don’t be a pussy. Grow some balls.’ I mean, it’s not the majority I’ll say. The majority has been really supportive, but the negative has been a lot of that. And I’m getting it from men and women.”

Franzese said that some of the “grace and mercy” that he bestowed upon Phillips by forgiving her, despite his still having a lot of feelings about the abuse he endured at her hands, was because Phillips explained to him that her husband Danny Masterson (the actor who famously played Steven Hyde in the sitcom That ’70s Show) is currently facing rape allegations and because Phillips recently had a kidney transplant.

He also said that he didn’t need for Phillips to apologize to him, but she needed Franzese to forgive her or else people in the social media world might’ve attacked her relentlessly for her past abuse of him.

However, Franzese said that just because Phillips apologized and he forgave her doesn’t mean that he’s not allowed to keep talking about it, to which Matarazzo replied, “Amen.” Both Franzese and Matarazzo also said that a part of the reason they’re bringing it up is so that Phillips might also make amends to other people she has hurt during her career.

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