Damian from Mean Girls may be one of the most iconic gay best friends in film history, but actor Daniel Franzese says that playing the role left him locked out of straight roles for the rest of his career.
In an interview with them, the actor explains that after uttering beloved lines like “she doesn’t even go here” in the teen classic, he hit Hollywood’s “gay class ceiling,” leaving him unable to do anything but play gay.
“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,” he said. “As soon as the movie was over, I kept meeting the gay glass ceiling. They wouldn’t let me audition for straight roles.”
Franzese was unemployed for years after Mean Girls because he “refused to go backwards on the movement,” explaining that the roles he was offered after Damian were regressive.
“Damian 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.'”
Instead of capitalizing on his notoriety, Franzese stuck to his guns, something unusual for Hollywood. “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,” Franzese said. “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.”
Franzese went on to star on HBO’s Looking.