“You can have all the money and success in the world, but when you're a fucking asshole, you're a fucking asshole and that's all there is to it.”
- Busy Philipps, This Will Only Hurt A Little
As an actress, Busy Philipps is known for her iconic roles in Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek and White Chicks. More recently she’s joined the deities of late-night television as the host of her own talk show Busy Tonight. While her face may be recognizable to cinephiles and binge-watchers, Busy’s life story is full of twists, turns and heart-wrenching surprises, all of which she very honestly describes in her memoir This Will Only Hurt A Little.
Celebrity memoirs are a delicate subdivision of literature. Whether penned by the celebrity themselves or written by a ghost writer, memoirs about famous people can easily fall flat. Too often they stray into a realm that’s hard for regular people to relate to. After all, talking about juice cleanses and expensive fitness classes is only endearing for so long. But from page one Busy makes it clear that her story isn’t going to be one about fame and fortune (although she does talk about sharing a doctor with the Karashians), but instead about love, heartbreak, family and good old fashioned hard work.
Known for her comedic roles, Busy’s book definitely delivers in the humour department. Anecdotes about running away from home as a toddler and early acting jobs where she had to pretend to be a life-size Barbie will have readers doubled over in laughter. But the true surprise of This Will Only Hurt A Little are the stories in which Busy - while working as a comedic actress - was enduring incredible personal hardship. From an unplanned pregnancy to struggling with extreme loneliness while filming shows to facing constant rejection in the film industry, Busy has dealt with the trickiest parts of fame. She has also had to fight against rampant sexism, body-shaming and gas-lighting from male co-stars and coworkers.
In one particularly upsetting and intriguing portion of the book, Busy explains how the idea and script for the hit figure skating comedy Blades of Glory was stolen from her by a former boyfriend. Despite having the idea and participating in the writing of the original script, Philipps’ name was removed from the project with her consent, and it wasn’t until years later that she got any credit for her integral role in bringing the film to life. She didn’t profit off of the movie, and she had to live with the knowledge that someone she cared about had taken credit for her ideas and work. Despite having been a fan of hers for years, I had no idea Busy was involved in Blades of Glory until I read this book.
She also describes in detail her experience working with James Franco on Freaks and Geeks, and explains how his hot-headed - and borderline abusive - behavior on set was brushed off as nothing more than a star-in-the-making getting into character. Busy’s feelings and personal safety were pushed to the side in favour of her male co-stars desires. Rather than dwelling on the rough history she has with Franco (which she would have every right to do), Busy simply decided at some point that all she could do was be the best actress possible and speak out against misogyny in Hollywood to help others going through similar things.
This Will Only Hurt A Little is a great book. It’s lively and fun, and will give you a little insight into the craziness of Hollywood. Busy Philipps is the real deal - she’s funny and smart and always manages to come across as genuine. She doesn’t shy away from sharing the intimate details of her life, and she definitely doesn’t keep her opinions to herself.