Words: Steve Brown
Daniel Franzese turned down ‘stereotypical’ gay roles after starring in Mean Girls.
The actor portrayed ‘too gay to function’ Damien in the hit Lindsay Lohan-starring movie – which is celebrating its 15th anniversary today (April 30) - and although Franzese shot to fame as the now-iconic gay character, he revealed he stayed unemployed for ‘many years’ after.
He told them: “Damien wasn’t made fun of; he was celebrated. I prayed about it a bit and if I was going to do a gay role, it was going to be this one.
“But then, immediately after, I was offered all these other gay parts that were all so stereotypical – just making fun of gays. I was like, ‘You know what? I can’t’.
“I stayed unemployed for many years after Mean Girls because I refused to go backwards on the movement.
“I turned down a lot of money as my fame was rising. And to be famous and not have money? It’s a very weird thing to be famous and not be able to pay your rent.
“But I felt that there was a progression in gaysploitation in cinema. I felt myself pushing the envelope, so if I held out, out something worthy would come along.”
Although the actor waited years after the film was released to come out publicly, he admitted once the film was released, he was type-casted as the gay character despite not being publicly out.
He continued: “As soon as the movie was over, I kept meeting the gay glass ceiling. They wouldn’t let me audition for straight roles.
“I wasn’t getting called for things I was normally auditioning for. I had been getting called for The Sopranos, and it seemed like I was circling getting on the show at some point, because I’m Italian and from New York.
“But after Mean Girls, The Sopranos auditions dried up. I had become famous for playing one thing, but Hollywood, a very What-Have-You-Done-For-Me-Lately town, just didn’t think my talent could go beyond that.”
Luckily Franzese – who also revealed he and his co-star Jonathan Bennett both secretly came out to each other on the set of Mean Girls – has seen his career continue and recently starred in HBO’s Looking.