"I think the whole thing is hilarious," Phillips, 22, tells PEOPLE at Tuesday's premiere of Staten Island Summer, the Netflix-bound comedy in which he stars. "I feel like it's been so blown out of proportion. I guess that's just the nature of the business."
The Good Wife actor, who appeared alongside Grande in the Broadway musical 13 from October 2008 to January 2009, offers nothing but praise for his former flame. "She's such a sweet girl," he says. "It's tough. We all say things that we regret. I don't think it speaks to her character at all."
RELATED VIDEO: Ariana Grande Apologizes (Again) for 'I Hate America' Doughnut-Licking Video
Other celebrities have also shared their two cents about the doughnut controversy. When the scandal broke, Susan Sarandon (perhaps farcically) Tweeted, "Today, lick a doughnut in solidarity with [Ariana Grande]. A sweet, talented, true American." Rob Lowe more harshly posted that Grande, 22, seemed "#lame."
Grande's damage control efforts have included multiple apologies and an onstage assertion that the United States of America is "the greatest country in the world."
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The doughnut shop underwent investigation by a health inspector, and the store decided not to pursue charges against Grande.