Tragic Details About Bijou Phillips' Life

The following article includes references to addiction, child abuse, and sexual abuse.

Long before Bijou Phillips learned the dark truth about then-husband Danny Masterson, she found herself surrounded by loved ones whose behavior would distress and disappoint her throughout her life.

According to her half-sister, Mackenzie Phillips, Bijou entered the world with drugs in her system. In her memoir "High on Arrival," Mackenzie confessed to splitting a Dilaudid tablet with Bijou's mother, Geneviève Waïte, just hours before her little sister was born on a sofa. The pill was a powerful opioid pain medication. "Little Bijou — she has triumphed over incredible odds. Her story is her own, but my culpability is part of it. I witnessed the dangers of Geneviève's pregnancy. I shot up with her," Mackenzie wrote. Bijou was born one month early, and when the preemie became healthy enough to go home with her parents, the environment she found herself in wasn't exactly safe. Mackenzie recalled walking in the door one day to find her unsupervised baby sister using a box of cigarettes as a teething toy. "She must have had sixteen cigarettes in her mouth. I gently worked them out of her mouth and scavenged out the remaining bits," Mackenzie wrote. "... No wonder Bijou turned out to be a smoker."

It seems to be no minor miracle that Bijou Phillips made it to adulthood, but her life has been anything but easy; there have been health scares, tragic losses, and the painful discovery that young women who need help are sometimes exploited instead. 

She lived on the street as a baby

Bijou Phillips is the daughter of The Mamas & The Papas singer John Phillips and Geneviève Waïte, who had a multi-hyphenate career as an actor, singer, and model. Bijou's parents struggled with substance use issues. In his memoir "Papa Phillips," John recalled how he and Waïte attempted to go cold turkey when Bijou was just a newborn. Their behavior became so erratic that Mick Jagger and his then-girlfriend, Jerry Hall, temporarily took Bijou and her brother, Tamerlane, away from the couple while the group was celebrating the Fourth of July weekend. During that time, John tried to burn his house down and crashed his car.

When Bijou was a year old, her father was sentenced to 30 days in prison for his involvement in a drug ring. In a 2000 interview for Index Magazine, Bijou said that she and her mother had nowhere to stay and no money while John did his time. "We slept on the street a couple of nights, in doorways. And we had to steal food," she stated. When she was around 3 years old, Bijou was placed in the care of foster parents. "When I was a kid separated from my parents, I remember my mother coming and wanting to take me and just wanting to go with her so much and screaming and crying and grip[p]ing the door," she recalled in a 2018 Instagram post. "... It's a pain I still feel."

Bijou Phillips' creepy Calvin Klein experience

When Bijou Phillips was 14, she followed in her mom's footsteps by becoming a model. One of her first gigs was posing for a controversial series of photos for Calvin Klein, which she described as "kiddy porn ads" in her Index Magazine interview. "It was just a nightmare," she said of the shoot. While being photographed, she recalled being asked disturbing questions by a male adult film star, whom her Index interviewer, Bruce LaBruce, believed was allegedly Ron Jeremy (decades later, Jeremy was indicted on dozens of sexual assault charges). "He goes, 'What would it take to get your jeans off?'" Phillips claimed. "I mean, I was like fourteen. I'd been flown in from boarding school to do this. So I said, 'If I had to take a shower? If I had to go to the bathroom?'"

The ads were pulled and even investigated by the United States Justice Department to determine whether Calvin Klein had violated child exploitation laws by sexualizing underage models. No charges were filed after it was found that the models in the images that had caused offense were not underage. While Phillips' photos weren't considered provocative enough to get Calvin Klein in legal trouble, her distressing experience shooting them was not okay. "It felt dirty and wrong," she said. 

According to Phillips, her modeling career was short-lived because she found the entire industry superficial, cutthroat, and full of unpleasant people. "You really have to be in lala land to be a model," she told Paper in 1997. "People in that business are such vultures."

She lost friends to drug overdoses and went to rehab

At age 14, Bijou Phillips was legally emancipated from her parents and began living in a New York City apartment on her own. "When I came to New York, I was like, 'Bye-bye childhood,'" Phillips told Paper. Her wild antics soon made her a tabloid darling, and on "The Howard Stern Show" in 2000, she said that she began experimenting with various drugs, including acid and cocaine. She told Howard Stern that she did heroin for three days after trying it for the first time, but claimed that she lied to her father, John Phillips, about being addicted to the drug; she just wanted to get out of trouble for running up a $6,000 balance on his credit card. Bijou knew he would send her to rehab, and she'd be off the hook.

However, Bijou told Paper a different story, saying she sought her dad's help because she was left shaken after one of her friends, photographer Davide Sorrenti, died of a drug overdose in 1997. She attended his funeral and recalled Sorrenti's mother telling her, "Bijou, whenever you take a pill to keep you awake or to pass out, just remember that my baby is dead." This made her break down and cry until her nose bled.

After actor Brad Renfro died of a drug overdose in 2008, Phillips told MTV News she'd known him since they were children and considered him a brother. They also worked together on the movies "Tart" and "Bully."

Bijou Phillips' disturbing experience filming Bully

Director Larry Clark's 2001 movie "Bully" was based on the true story of a group of teens and young adults who plotted and carried out the murder of their bully. But for Bijou Phillips, the dark subject matter wasn't what disturbed her the most about shooting the graphic film.

In 2002, she told The Guardian she'd been in a car crash and was recovering from a punctured lung during filming, but Clark allegedly made her shoot scenes that called for her to smoke cigarettes. She was also furious when she learned that the camera had zoomed in on her crotch in one scene. "What the f*** is that bulls***? That's not OK," she said in another interview with The Guardian at the time. It wasn't the only shot that sexualized her in a manner she was not comfortable with. "It's like, OK Larry, yeah, you're a pervert. The whole f***ing world knows you're a creepy pervert. Do you have to rub it in everyone's face?" she added.

When Clark attempted to defend the scene in an interview with The Age, what he said about it seemed unprofessional, disrespectful, and arguably just plain gross. "Bijou's perfect for the role, and if she turns up in no panties, I'm gonna make the shot," the controversial filmmaker said. "I have no justification. I just liked the shot." He also shared that his girlfriend at the time had originally convinced him to cut the exploitative scene under threat of dumping him if he did not, but Clark later changed his mind. 

She allegedly lost her virginity to a much-older rocker

Bijou Phillips told Index Magazine that she was 15 or 16 years old when she allegedly lost her virginity to Lemonheads lead singer Evan Dando, who would have been almost 30 at the time. Phillips claimed Dando tried to convince her that he was madly in love with her and wanted to make her his wife. "And then he dumped me four days later," she recalled.

Sadly, instead of being outraged over being taken advantage of, Phillips placed some of the blame on herself for ending up in that situation. "I was just naive. But he was a rock star, and I had this daddy thing," she said. "I thought I could make my dad jealous if I was dating a cute young rock star." On "The Howard Stern Show," she noted that she was so hurt that it took her six months to recover from her broken heart. "I was lying in bed, banging the bed, like hysterical," she revealed.

While speaking to Stern, Phillips claimed that her ex, Elijah Blue Allman, the son of singers Gregg Allman and Cher, wasn't the greatest guy, either. "He's a mean person," she stated. When Elijah appeared on "The Howard Stern Show," he seemingly helped Phillips make her case by calling her "three o'clock slop." Phillips also confirmed a story that she sliced a man's finger with a cigar cutter at a club. She told Index Magazine that he had harassed her and grabbed her butt.

Did Playboy publish photos Bijou Phillips didn't approve of?

When Bijou Phillips spoke to "The Blairing Out Show" in 2001, she explained why she posed for Playboy. "They had pictures of me when I was a kid, naked," she claimed. According to Phillips, the magazine was threatening to publish those photos if she didn't agree to do a photo spread. You might assume that the magazine would get into legal trouble for printing the images it was allegedly blackmailing her with if she was underage in them. However, in the "Secrets of Playboy" docuseries, former Playmate Promotions director Miki Garcia claimed that Playboy got away with publishing photos of underage models by waiting until they were 18 to do so (via The Cut). Phillips felt regretful over her pictorial, saying, "It was a pretty bad decision to make."

Phillips told Index Magazine she was supposed to be given the final say over which photos were used for her pictorial. On "The Howard Stern Show," she claimed that this didn't happen, and she was specifically upset over the publication of a photo of her pouring oil on her body. Instead of sympathizing with Phillips, Howard Stern scoffed when she told him she'd wanted her photos to be artistic. "It's for guys to pleasure themselves," he argued. Stern then proceeded to shame his guest for having pubic hair in her photos. "Guys don't like that," he said, to which Phillips replied, "I'm not doing it for guys." Stern insisted, "Yes, you are."

Her response to her sister's incest claims

In "High on Arrival," Mackenzie Phillips claimed that she was raped by her father. She also alleged that she began having sex with him regularly while in a drug-induced haze, and that the incest eventually became "consensual."

After Mackenzie appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2009 to discuss the allegations made in her memoir, Bijou Phillips released a statement saying that Mackenzie had told her about the alleged incest when she was 13. This placed her in the difficult position of deciding whether to accept her sister's word as truth. "This news was confusing and scary, as I lived alone with my father since I was 3, I didn't know what to believe and it didn't help that shortly thereafter Mackenzie told me it didn't happen," she claimed (via People). However, Bijou later fired off a series of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, in which she made it clear that she didn't believe Mackenzie was telling the truth. 

Bijou also slammed Mackenzie for waiting until after their father had died to share her story with the public. "Allegations of sexual abuse are not only hurtful, but malicious when he is not here to defend himself," she tweeted in part. According to Bijou, her relationship with John Phillips deteriorated after Mackenzie first told her about the alleged incest. "I moved out to NYC at 13. Started doing drugs, did not talk to my Dad anymore. ... I was deeply f***ed up," she wrote.

The death of Bijou Phillips' parents hit her hard

Complicated doesn't begin to describe Bijou Phillips' relationship with her parents. In her angry tweets about Mackenzie Phillips' incest claims, she revealed that she and John Phillips had a falling out that lasted until the year prior to his death in 2001. "I'm sad I lost those years with him, and I lost those years at home," she wrote. But because John and her mom used drugs so frequently, she often lacked stability at home, and her parents were seemingly poor role models. "I'd never been shown respect by my parents. I'd always been treated like an object, not like a human," Bijou claimed to Index Magazine.

Still, Bijou was devastated when her father died of heart failure at age 65. "My life sucks since he went away," she told The Guardian in 2002. The loss seemingly made her view her father in a more positive light, as she chose to reflect back on the good times. "My dad was a great dad. ... He took me to school every single day, made me breakfast, picked me up, made me dinner," Bijou said.

Bijou also had nothing but praise for her mother, Geneviève Waïte, after she died at age 71 in 2019. "My mother was a gift and I will miss her every day," she said in part in a statement to People. "In everything I cook, and in everything I sing, and in everything I do without her wise guidance."

Danny Masterson didn't like shooting scenes with Bijou Phillips

Danny Masterson and Bijou Phillips have filmed a few movies together. One of the strangest projects they both signed on for was the 2009 movie "Made For Each Other" — in it, Danny's brother, Christopher Masterson, plays the husband of Phillips' character. But apparently, Danny wouldn't have wanted Christopher's role. In a 2009 interview with Paper, he admitted that he came to dislike filming scenes with his then-girlfriend after romancing her on screen in the indie crime drama "The Bridge to Nowhere." In the film, he and Phillips play a pimp and a sex worker who fall in love. According to Danny, Phillips wanted to act like the couple that the two actors were in between takes, but he wanted to keep things strictly professional. "I'm like, we can chat later. I found myself being a bit rude to her. I felt like an a**hole," he said.

Because Danny Masterson didn't want to treat Bijou like his girlfriend at work, it became so challenging for him to work with her that they had to come to an agreement about any future projects that they both wanted to work on. "We have decided to never ever do scenes together. We can be in a movie together, but not in the same scene," he explained. However, the "That '70s Show" alum did go on to play the ill-fated boyfriend of Phillips' serial killer character in a 2011 episode of "Raising Hope."

She had to get a kidney transplant

After TMZ reported that Bijou Phillips had to be hospitalized for a blood infection in 2017, a rep for the actor told the outlet that Phillips had been suffering from kidney disease for years. "Bijou was born with small kidneys," the rep said of the cause of her illness. Her health had deteriorated to the point that she was undergoing dialysis and was hoping to receive a kidney transplant from a friend. Before her disease took such a serious turn, she had tried going vegan in hopes that it would improve her condition. 

According to The Underground Bunker, Bijou possibly believed that her health would benefit from her belief in Scientology. "Unfortunately Scientology did nothing to improve her condition as promised in Dianetics," said a Church of Scientology insider. The source also said that Scientologists would consider Bijou's blood infection a sign of being a PTS, or "potential trouble source." Scientologists believe that a PTS has an SP, or "suppressive person," in their life who is negatively affecting them in some way.

Two months after Bijou's hospitalization, Danny Masterson shared an update on his wife. "My lady has been slow[ly] dying for the past 7 years of an incurable kidney disease. She was given the gift of an encore by a tall angel," he captioned an Instagram photo of Bijou and her kidney donor holding hands in their hospital beds. "... Now the real work begins for her to silence any chance of rejection."

Bijou Phillips cried when she learned Danny Masterson's fate

Bijou Phillips couldn't hide her distress when Danny Masterson was found guilty of two counts of rape in May 2023. "When the verdicts were announced I heard this wail. And I mean it was this otherworldly sound," journalist Tony Ortega told Inside Edition. That sound came from a distraught Phillips. She would later try to help her then-husband get a lighter sentence by writing a character letter for the judge in his case to consider. "Danny is an amazing father," it read in part (via TMZ). "Our daughter and I are heartbroken that he is not home with us. It has been very difficult without him here."

After Masterson learned that he would be spending the next three decades in prison before becoming eligible for parole, a source claimed to the Daily Mail that Phillips was afraid that he might get murdered in prison. "The stress that is bringing her is on its own level of stress that she never has felt before," said the insider.

While Phillips ultimately decided to divorce Masterson that September, she may not be completely cutting ties with the man she was married to for over a decade. According to attorney Holly Davis of Kirker Davis LLP, Masterson and Phillips' divorce could be a strategy to shield some of their assets from potential future civil lawsuits. Whatever the case may be, it's truly tragic that someday Phillips will have to tell their daughter, Fianna, the dark truth about her father.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues or has been a victim of child abuse or sexual assault, contact the relevant resources below: