Freddie Prinze Jr. Says He Had ‘Near-Death Experience' Thanks To ‘A**hole’ Director

“I wanted to fight that guy two or three different times,” Prinze said of the director of one of his most successful films.
Freddie Prinze Jr. with his wife and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” co-star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, in January.
Freddie Prinze Jr. with his wife and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” co-star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, in January.
Kevin Winter/GA via Getty Images

Freddie Prinze Jr. is describing his experience on the set of 1997’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer” like it was a horror movie.

Prinze went into detail about how much of an “asshole” director Jim Gillespie was to him on the set of 1997 slasher in an interview with TooFab published on Tuesday.

Yet despite all the allegations Prinze makes against the director, he also admitted that in retrospect he’s grateful for the terrible working conditions because they “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,” Prinze told TooFab. “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.”

Prinze claims in his interview that Gillespie gave him “psychotic notes,” like “Don’t leave your mouth open. You look stupid when you do that.”

He said the director was so rude to him on set because writer Kevin Williamson and the studio wanted him in the role of Ray, but Gillespie preferred actor Jeremy Sisto. Prinze said that Gillespie “made no bones about” his disdain for the fact that he was cast instead of Sisto.

“There was no passive-aggressiveness — which I hate — he was very direct in the fact that, ‘I don’t want you in this movie,’” the actor said.

Gillespie says otherwise of Prinze’s casting. He told Digital Spy in 2017 that he fought for him to get 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.”

Gillespie did not respond Thursday to HuffPost’s request for comment for this story.

Despite opposing claims, Prinze said, Gillespie tended to single him out, leaving him “in pain” and making it a “struggle to finish work” every day.

“I wanted to fight that guy two or three different times. Once I felt was a legitimate reason, and the other two I was just pissed off, which, that’s not right,” the actor acknowledged.

That one legitimate reason may have been a “near-death experience” Prinze mentioned that took place during filming.

On Wednesday’s episode of his podcast “That Was Pretty Scary,” which centers on the horror movie genre, Prinze went into detail about a stunt on the set of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” that went wrong.

The actor said they were filming the movie’s boat scene — in which Prinze’s character, Ray, jumps from a speedboat to a fishing boat to rescue Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character, Julie (watch it below).

About 46 minutes into the podcast episode, Prinze prefaced his story by saying that during his audition, he was asked if he knew how to drive a speedboat, which he did. But he was surprised to discover that the speedboat he was going to drive in the movie was actually “a dinghy” or a “row boat, like what pirates would be on” with an “outboard motor.”

The actor remembered that on the night of the shoot in the Atlantic Ocean, the water was “choppy” and made “even choppier” by actual speed boats zipping around off camera. Prinze, who described himself as a “21-year-old kid with no stunt experience” at the time, recalled that he was “concerned” and that “everything felt wrong” about the conditions. He said he asked if the film’s stunt coordinator had signed off on it and was told yes.

But Prinze still had his reservations. He said he asked to rehearse the scene before actually shooting it — especially since his character was supposed to chase the wake of the fishing boat.

The actor said Gillespie agreed to a rehearsal but then switched to actually shooting the scene once the rehearsal began.

When he hit the fishing boat’s wake, Prinze recounted, the “dinghy flies in the air, goes almost upside down, dumps me out, lands back on its belly — and the motor’s still running — goes right over my head.”

“I don’t feel the propellers, per se,” he said, “but I feel the movement of the water from the propellers — it is a distinctive feeling.”

The shot failed miserably, Prinze said, and he was “pissed” after almost getting hacked up by the boat’s motor.

“I’m embarrassed, I’m scared, I’m angry, like a lot of things are going through me at that moment,” he recalled.

After the incident, Prinze demanded to speak to the stunt coordinator and was shocked to learn that the coordinator had been sent home because “they didn’t want to pay him overtime.”

Prinze said he was expecting an apology from Gillespie after the incident but was instead scolded and told that he had “wrecked the shot.” Gillespie then demanded that he shoot the stunt again, according to Prinze, who said he left for his trailer instead and was prepared to quit the movie, and acting altogether, because of what had happened.

Prinze said the movie’s producer talked him down and that a stunt person eventually executed the stunt instead.

The actor told TooFab that he’s glad he didn’t quit the movie — and acting altogether — after his near-death experience.

“I’m not upset because that movie launched my whole career,” Prinze said. “I wouldn’t have any of the things I have without that movie. I wouldn’t have my wife [his “I Know What You Did Last Summer” co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar], I wouldn’t have all the other movies I’ve done.”

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