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Rose McGowan on Her 'Brave' New Book and Surviving the 'Cult of Hollywood'

Rose McGowan on Her 'Brave' New Book and Surviving the 'Cult of Hollywood'
From TIME - February 1, 2018

Rose McGowan, the former actor who is now an activist against sexual assault, has a new memoir, Brave, in which she details being attacked by Harvey Weinstein (an accusation the movie executive denies), her unconventional upbringing and her years suffering from a mental disorder called Hollywood. McGowan spoke with TIME writer Belinda Luscombe upon the books publication.

TIME: When did you start writing Brave?
McGOWAN: Three years ago, but in a lot of ways Id been formulating it my whole life.

How did the cascade of accusations against [former movie executive Harvey Weinstein] the person you call the Monster change what happened with the book? I am one of the people that started that process, behind the scenes, a lot earlier. While I was writing this book, I was being harassed by his lawyers. So Shaunna Thomas from the [womens rights] group UltraViolet put me in touch with the media. What I know is pissing matches. Two news organizations, NBC and the New York Times were in a race for the story, and to make sure the story didnt die, I kind of played both sides.

So you were super-strategic about these revelations? Ive been working for 20 years at this. I was super-strategic for taking [a role in the TV show] Charmed. I knew I needed a foothold in all these territories globally. So when news broke, I had an anchor.

Are you saying you took Charmed so that you were prominent enough that when you made the allegations, people would not think it was sour grapes about your career? One of the reasons, yes. It was also the only job I could get because [Weinstein] would never have thought to go to [TV producer] Aaron Spelling to blacklist me and say, Dont hire her, which he did to everybody else for years and years. But you know, I always told these people I was coming. I never told them anything else. I never signed a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

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How have the revelations about the Monster changed your life personally? Is any of the burden lifted? Its a different kind of burden. I receive a tremendous amount of pain in direct messages, on Twitter and Instagram especially. People are like, Ive never told anybody this, I have to tell you, and its a lot to carry. But I can handle a lot. What a lot of people thought I did for personal gain, I was doing for survival and for the long game. Its a long game of chess, and every time I knocked a pawn off, theres another chessboard.

You make the point in the book that you took payment from him as a way of inflicting some pain. It was just my literal way of being like, no! No, I didnt want this. I wanted to buy a billboard saying his name. _______ is a rapist. I contacted Gannett Outdoors. They laughed me out the door. [A spokesperson for Outfront Media, the company that now owns Gannett Outdoors, said it does not have records going back to the 1990s.] There is no road map for this. Someone asked me, Whats this like? Im like, Well, if youve seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, theres a section where they go to Jupiter. What Ive been doing for the last three years, is breaking through the atmosphere. And what I very specifically did was follow a lot of media on Twitter. So when I started talking, I knew they were listening.

I was fascinated by your story about the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, where you went in that famous dress to make fun of the ogling It was a middle finger, yes. It was a first appearance after the sexual assault. And I was like, is this what you motherf-ckers want to see? Lets go.

And yet it was completely Misinterpreted. Completely. Global slut-shaming.

Is there a way that women can own their sexuality without being sexualized? Yes. Own it. Tell them, Stop it. I got so tired of how I speak. I was like, I cant do this individually anymore. I cant. I have to live my life. I have an album coming out, the other half of the book. And [the documentary] Citizen Rose is part of the plan. They all go together, and all started three years ago, very much on purpose. I was like, O.K., Ive got three years that I want to devote to this cause. Then I want my life back.

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This book reminds me of an Old Testament prophet, crying that the system is completely corrupt, everyone is complicit, and everyone needs to repent. Do you see yourself that way? Well, society has had an awful lot of thoughts for me, and I have some thoughts for them. What if I have information that they dont? The media has been in trainingand often paidto slime me and to slander me for years. And now seeing them all of a sudden after rearranging their brains and try to treat me with respect, its like glitching. Its hard for them after 20 years of painting me as crazy, or one of VH1s 50 baddest girls in Hollywood. Really? Im staying home baking, but cool. It was like this artificial image. I would be in Afghanistan, I would come home, and there would be news that I had gotten in a Strip-Off with Christina Aguilera in a bar.

You were in Afghanistan seeing your [USAF pilot] brother? No, I was visiting troops and other stuff. Its a beautiful place and let me say, I was there at the height of the war, and I felt safer there than I ever did in Hollywood. Ever.

Why do you no longer wish to be called an actor? Ive always hated that word. I dont act. I have no interest in it. It was my job, and I acquitted myself as well as I could. Despite the circumstances. Despite the material. Obviously, if you see the movie I directed, Dawn, fundamentally, I have different tastes. Somebody said to meit was really kind of tone-deafthat if they invited you to the Oscars this year to give you an award for doing what you do, would you go? Im like, first of all, no. I wouldnt go, and they wouldnt have me, which is fine. I dont believe in that bullshit. In fact, I would self-soothe whenever I had to go to an event. I would stare at all these people, and I would imagine the chandeliers falling and killing everybody. I know thats horrible. It wasnt them, it was that I just cant stand fakeness.

You say that you belonged to two cultsThree, if you talk about society.

There was the one that you were born into, the notorious Children of God, and then theres Hollywood. Why do you call Hollywood a cult? Its the same language. The messaging was the sameall the messages, really, that are handed down to women. The Man is telling you what he wants.

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