Maggie Gyllenhaal, a producer and star of The Deuce, HBO’s gritty dramatic examination of misogyny, sexual violence and exploitation in the grimy Times Square of the 1970s, says shutting down the show in response to misconduct allegations against co-star James Franco would be “the opposite of the right thing to do.”
The Deuce, Gyllenhaal told SiriusXM radio host Sway Calloway yesterday (hear it above), is “about transactional sex. It’s about inequality in the entertainment business. You couldn’t be more at the center of that conversation than The Deuce.”
Gyllenhaal was not specifically addressing charges made by actress Busy Philipps about being thrown to the ground by Franco after she gently punched him in the chest, as directed, on the set of the 1999-2000 series Freaks & Geeks. After Calloway mentioned the allegation, Gyllenhaal said that sexual misconduct allegations made against Franco earlier this year prompted her, as a Deuce producer, to speak with other female cast and crew about their experiences with star and exec producer Franco.
“We, at the time that the accusations against James came out in the LA Times, we read them all, we took them very seriously,” Gyllenhaal said. “We spoke to every woman on the crew and in the cast to find out if they felt respected and what their experience of working with James was and everyone said that they had been totally respected by him.”
Added Gyllenhaal about the show’s storyline and message, “To me, I thought I want to keep telling this story, I want to keep playing Candy and going deep into, like, really what it’s like from a woman’s perspective to be dealing with all the stuff that is on everybody’s minds right now.
“I think I would have been so sorry not to be able to keep doing that and also not to be able to watch Emily Meade, who plays Lori, keep doing that [and] to watch Dominique [Fishback], who plays Darlene, keep doing it and to watch all of these women who are creating these incredible characters that are taking it on straight on.
“I feel like it would’ve been the wrong consequence to those accusations to shut our show down. It would’ve been, like, the opposite of the right thing to do. And yet I believe that there should be consequences for disrespecting or assaulting women. Of course I do.”
In her book This Will Only Hurt a Little, due October 16, Philipps recounts that when she and Franco were doing a scene for Freaks & Geeks, she gently hit the actor in the chest, as directed, enraging him. “He grabbed both my arms and screamed in my face, ‘DON’T EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN!’ And he threw me to the ground. Flat on my back. Wind knocked out of me.”
Gyllenhaal’s comments about Franco arrive around the 12:11 mark in the video above.