Freddie Prinze Jr. Calls ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ Director an ‘A–hole’ Who Gave ‘Psychotic Notes’ Like ‘Don’t Leave Your Mouth Open’
Freddie Prinze Jr. marked the launch of his new horror movie podcast “That Was Pretty Scary” by talking to TooFab about one of his own seminal horror films, the 1997 teen slasher classic “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” Prinze Jr., who co-hosts the podcast with Jon Lee Brody, said making the movie was a miserable experience because of director Jim Gillespie, who the actor said was “such an asshole” to him on set. Alleged tension between the two started because Gillespie wanted to cast Jeremy Sisto in the role of Ray Bronson but the studio and screenwriter Kevin Williamson wanted Prinze Jr. instead.
“I’ll give the man this, I think his name is Jim, he made no bones about it,” Prinze Jr. said of the director. “There was no passive aggressiveness — which I hate — he was very direct in the fact that, ‘I don’t want you in this movie.’ So when that’s your first job and you hear those words, it just wrecks you, man. It just wrecks you.”
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Prinze Jr. said Gillespie gave him “psychotic notes” on set such as “don’t leave your mouth open [because] you look stupid when you do that.”
“That was the exact note, word for word, I’ll never forget it,” Prinze Jr. said. “And I’m like, I’m either gonna break down or I have to beat this guy’s ass. Like those were the only two options in my head. I remember Ryan [Phillippe] came up to me and was like, ‘Screw that guy, man. How many times did you audition for this movie?’ and I go, ‘Five times,’ he goes, ‘Yeah, you earned it. You didn’t get offered the role, you earned it.'”
Prinze Jr. said he nearly quit the movie because of Gillespie, adding, “It was a struggle to finish work every day. I was in pain every single day on that movie. However, it prepared me for this business in a way. I’m forever grateful to Jim for being such an asshole because I’ve never met one like that since…no other director I’ve met felt crossing those lines would be OK. I’ve been prepared for every lesser A-hole in the business.”
“I’m sure he’s a hero in someone else’s story,” the actor continued. “I’m sure he helped someone else out and they loved him. But for me, he took a lot of frustration out on me. He was a first-time director, he didn’t have a lot of time, he didn’t have the budget he wanted, he didn’t have the actor he wanted, and he didn’t know how to deal with that frustration.”
Variety has reached out to Gillespie’s representative for further comment.
As TooFab pointed out, Gillespie gave an interview to DigitalSpy in 2017 to mark the 20th anniversary of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and said it was him who pushed to cast Prinze Jr. in the role.
“Nobody wanted Freddie; they thought he was too soft, he wasn’t muscular enough, so Freddie probably screen-tested four or five times,” Gillespie said at the time. “He got to the point where he was saying, ‘I’m done’, and I really had to plead with him to stick with it because I wanted him. I thought he was going to be great with it. He went to the gym and worked out, changed his diet and his hair cut. I stuck to my guns and eventually they went, ‘Yes.'”
Prinze Jr. and his “I Know What You Did Last Summer” co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt could be returning to the horror franchise in the future. The duo starred in the 1998 sequel “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer,” and now Sony is looking to reboot the franchise with director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (“Do Revenge”). The new sequel is in early development at the studio, with the both actors in talks to reprise their roles. Leah McKendrick is on board to write the script for the project. Neal H. Moritz is also in talks to return as producer.
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