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Why Damian From Mean Girls Looks So Familiar

If you asked someone born in the '80s or '90s for one film they can quote from memory, there's a big chance that they might name "Mean Girls." The 2004 comedy was a certified phenomenon, and nearly two decades since its release, the film remains as relevant as ever.

The film was adored in part for its cast of "Saturday Night Live" alumni, including Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler, and Ana Gasteyer. Though Lindsay Lohan may have been the star of the film, a number of other actors appearing would go on to have massive careers of their own, including, most notably, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried.

Some other actors may not have gone on to the same level of mega-stardom, but they still are successful actors with many credits to their name. This includes the hilarious Daniel Franzese, who portrayed the pink-shirt-having, Danny-Devito-loving Damian in "Mean Girls." What else has the talented actor starred in? 

A varied career in film and stage

Daniel Franzese was still relatively new to acting when he snagged his breakout role in "Mean Girls," with only bit roles in small films under his belt. However, no doubt due to his excellent performance in the film, Franzese went on to appear in many more projects. After appearing in Steven Spielberg's 2005 "War of the Worlds," where he played a member of the National Guard, Franzese had a string of roles in indie films, such as "Cruel Summer," "Whirlygirl," "Bristol Boys," "Kill Theory," and "The Missing Person." Clearly, "Mean Girls" was the launching pad he needed to begin showing his talents elsewhere.

Additionally, Franzese has had a successful career in comedy, including an off-Broadway, one-man show entitled "I've Never Really Made The Kinda Money to Become A Mess," which ran during the 2013 holiday season. However, the performer earned more fame and prominence with one significant television role.

Daniel Franzese has become a vocal LGBTQ activist

In 2015, Daniel Franzese joined "Looking," the HBO show following the lives of three openly gay friends living in contemporary San Francisco. Franzese himself came out in 2014, in an emotional letter written to his "Mean Girls'" character a decade after the film's release. Upon coming out and joining the cast of "Looking," Franzese became a vocal activist in the LGBTQ+ community. Notably, his character on "Looking" was HIV positive, and Franzese has dedicated his efforts into helping de-stigmatize HIV/AIDS and drive funding to help those living with it. 

Speaking to MSNBC, Franzese shared his feelings about playing one of the first openly HIV positive characters on TV, saying, "We live in a very interesting and diverse world, and the more that we can see interesting and diverse characters, of all sizes, statuses...and the more that people can see themselves represented, I think the more we're really being true to the art form of filmmaking." He added on how much appearing on the show helped him personally, too: "As a gay man who just came out last year, there's nothing more life affirming than coming to a show where not only is it OK to be gay, but it's cool to be gay."

A frequent small-screen star

Apart form his notable, impactful role on "Looking," Daniel Franzese has found success elsewhere on television. Like many actors before him, Franzese appeared on an episode of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation". The talented actor has also had bit parts in popular shows like "S.W.A.T.," "Burn Notice," and alongside Ken Marino and Adam Short in the hilarious "Party Down."

Franzese also starred in another fictional show with a powerful message: "Recovery Road," the Freeform drama about a teenager struggling with addiction. Franzese plays Vern Testaverde, a resident at the rehabilitation clinic the show is centered upon. Though the show was well-received by critics, holding a favorable score of 70 on Metacritic, "Recovery Road" was cancelled in 2016 after just one season.

Later that year, Franzese would go on to star in another short-lived drama. This time, he joined the cast of the legal drama, "Conviction," starring Hayley Atwell as Hayes Morrison, a former first daughter with a scandalous past, who is now dedicated to her career as a defense attorney. Franzese appears as Jackson, Hayes' elder brother and roommate. The political intrigue and star power of "Conviction" was not enough to keep the show afloat, though, and unfortunately only lasted 13 episodes.

Daniel Franzese got to appear on one very iconic show

After coming out as gay, Daniel Franzese gained increased fame in the queer community, which, lucky for him, led him to have a guest spot on a very iconic show: "RuPaul's Drag Race." Franzese was a guest judge on the show for its twelfth season, even having the honor of judging the finale.  In what was undoubtedly a huge moment for "Mean Girls" devotees everywhere, the episode also featured Jonathan Bennett, best known for playing Aaron Samuels in the classic film, who himself came out as gay in 2018.

Speaking with Comic Cure, Franzese shared how excited he was to appear on "Drag Race," saying he had been "dying to be a judge...forever," especially after appearing on RuPaul's "Gay for Play" game show. The actor seemed pleased with his appearance, too, remarking that he thought he was a "bad-ass judge" — and we're sure fans would agree.

Franzese has showed his chops for both comedy and drama in a variety roles, and doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. We're sure to see him pop up again in the near future.