Freddie Prinze Jr. almost quit acting following a difficult experience on set of I Know What You Did Last Summer, the film that helped launch his career.
The actor recalled conflicts he had with director Jim Gillespie that made shooting the 1997 slasher a “miserable” undertaking in an interview with TooFab — but said he was grateful that Gillespie was an “asshole” because it prepared him “for every lesser a-hole in the business.”
Prinze Jr. claimed that Gillespie preferred Jeremy Sisto for the role of Ray Bronson, but the studio and writer Kevin Williamson pushed to cast him instead. “There was no passive aggressiveness, which I hate. He was very direct [with] the fact that, ‘I don’t want you in this movie,'” Prinze said. “So when that’s your first job and you hear those words, it just wrecks you, man.”
Everett Collection Freddie Prinze Jr. in ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’
Prinze said Gillespie would give him “psychotic notes” (“Don’t leave your mouth open. You look stupid when you do that”) and “made it a point to single me out every time,” excluding him when he gathered the other actors to provide notes before shooting. “It was very difficult waking up in the morning — or in the afternoon, because we shot a lot of nights — and go to work with the right attitude,” he said.
The actor shared that he almost quit the movie after a “near death experience” while filming on a motorboat for the horror film’s finale. “I almost caught a flight and went home. I was done. I had enough,” he said. “They had broken a ton of union stuff that they shouldn’t have, like union rules. All kinds of things. And I just felt like if I’m not wanted here, screw it. There’s other things I can do. I dropped out of Le Cordon Bleu to make this movie. I’ll go be a chef, that’s what my mom wanted me to be anyways.”
“I wanted to fight that guy two or three different times,” he said of Gillespie.
The support of fellow stars Ryan Phillippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar, who would become his wife, helped the otherwise miserable experience, Prinze said. But he’s also fully aware of the positives that came from the film. “I’m not upset because that movie launched my whole career,” he said. “I wouldn’t have any of the things I have without that movie. I wouldn’t have my wife, I wouldn’t have all the other movies I’ve done.”
Jesse Grant/Getty for Paramount+ Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr.
While it was a “struggle to finish work every day,” Prinze is “forever grateful for Jim for being such an asshole because I’ve never met one like that since,” he said. “I’m sure he’s a hero in someone else’s story. 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.”
EW has reached out to Gillespie’s rep for comment.
EW confirmed last month that Prinze and costar Jennifer Love Hewitt are in talks to reprise their roles for a IKWYDLS sequel. Other details are unknown since the project is still in early development, but Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (Do Revenge, Someone Great) is attached to direct. The original film followed four pals bound by accident after they run over a stranger and dispose of his body in the water. When they reconvene a year later, they receive a threatening letter from someone aware of the incident and are soon terrorized by a hook-wielding murderer.
Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly‘s free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.