Rose McGowan is living life on her own terms. After years of outspoken activism and a particularly fraught past few months, the actress and filmmaker has just released her first memoir, “BRAVE,” which promises “a no-holds-barred, pull-no-punches account” that will “expose the truth about the entertainment industry.”
Billed by publisher Harper Collins as being “unscripted, courageous, victorious, angry, smart, fierce, unapologetic, controversial, and real as f*ck,” the book has finally hit shelves and, with it, a slew of insightful new revelations about McGowan’s past and her hopes for the future. Here are seven of the biggest, and yes, the bravest.
1. She Describes Her Alleged Rape by Harvey Weinstein
In “BRAVE,” McGowan confronts her own alleged rape at the hands of Weinstein. Its inclusion marks the first time she has disclosed any detailed information about the alleged incident since she broke an NDA agreement and said Weinstein raped her in a tweet published October 12. The abuse is said to have occurred at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.
The occurrence is detailed here, along with the fallout from the alleged crime, which affected McGowan both personally and professionally. While McGowan writes that she was initially hellbent on bringing him to justice, a number of people — including a female criminal attorney — convinced her she had no case. Still, McGowan alleges that everyone in Hollywood knew, and Weinstein ultimately sought to blacklist her.
2. She Details Her Early Years in a (Literal) Cult
McGowan has never hidden from her family’s background in the Children of God cult, which she was born into in Italy in 1973. For McGowan, who compares the literal cult of COG with the (slightly) more figurative cult of Hollywood, the impulse and need to escape from both springs from the same experience — sample line: “The first step to deprogramming yourself from a cult is realizing you are in a cult. I would know, I escaped from two of the most iconic cults of all time.”
While McGowan has discussed her time in COG before, in “BRAVE,” she goes into greater detail about the abuses she suffered there, including being constantly beaten because she wouldn’t say she had accepted God into her heart, being forced to eat her childhood pet goat, and the marriage and sexual practices that tore apart her family (men were allowed to take other wives, which her father did, and McGowan writes that sexual relations between adults and children became part of the cult’s practice).
It was a formative experience that set the stage for a lifetime of abuse and mistreatment. Yet McGowan also traces her first acts of creativity — some of them forced, like group performances, some of them not — to her time in COG, where she used books and photography as escape mechanisms.
3. She Does Not Refer to Weinstein or Robert Rodriguez by Their Names
Although it was widely reported that McGowan only referred to Weinstein as “the Monster” in her book, never by his given name, she also refers to him as “the Studio Head” and “the Pig Monster.” She writes, “By now we all know the Monster’s name, but I have made a choice not to use it. I do not like the Monster’s name, and though I know it, and maybe you know it, I refuse to have his name in my book.”
McGowan’s ex-boyfriend and former director Robert Rodriquez is also not named in the book, only billed as “RR.”
4. She Was Sexually Abused on Her Very First Film Set
As a young teen, McGowan reunited with her father in Washington state, and what was initially a tenuous bond turned harder to handle when her father told her she needed to pay him $300 a month in rent. Desperate for a paying gig, McGowan stumbled upon a flyer advertising $35 a day to be an extra in a new film — a weird B -movie called “Class of 1999” starring Malcolm McDowell and Pam Grier.
While McGowan liked the work — as a longtime movie buff, it was no surprise — and relished her time on set, that all changed when a “guy on set” who McGowan viewed as a nice dad type got her alone, pulled her into a trailer, and allegedly fondled her against her will.
“I tucked the experience into one of my many inside compartments and went back to work. It didn’t occur to me to say anything,” McGowan wrote. “For years I thought of the incident as a sexual experience versus assault. Later when I became an adult, I realized that it actually was assault.” Later, McGowan writes, the same man appeared on the set of “Scream.”
4. She Partially Attributes an On-Set Accident for Her Gossiped-About Plastic Surgery
In 2007, McGowan became the subject of vicious tabloid gossip, mostly hinging on what appeared to be a very sudden change to her face. McGowan hit back, explaining that the alterations to her face were due to necessary reconstructive surgery she underwent after a car accident. That wasn’t entirely true.
In “BRAVE,” McGowan writes that she was actually recovering from an on-set injury on the set of Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror,” and she decided to use that time to also fix a sinus issue that had plagued her for years. As she tells it, her surgeon botched the operation, puncturing her skin below her eye, ultimately leading the actress to undergo further surgery to fix it.
“I told my publicists what happened and they said to say it was a car accident,” McGowan wrote. “Looking back, I don’t know why it mattered but I took that advice. And so when I was asked by the press, that became the party line.”
5. Making “Charmed” Was Not Always a Positive Experience
Eventually McGowan moved over to television — blame that blacklisting — to star on Aaron Spelling’s witchy sisters show “Charmed.” The work was often tedious and exhausting for McGowan, but she was clearly happy to be working. Still, it wasn’t always a charmed experience, both personally and professionally.
The actress wrote that she only worked with one female director during the show’s five-year run, which was marked by a slew of directors she often didn’t like, and even that wasn’t a good experience. The mostly male crew “would snicker in disrespect when she would direct them,” McGowan wrote.
She added, “I feel horribly about not fighting for her more, but I didn’t fully understand the dynamics of what was happening. My character was too busy talking to leprechauns to have the time.”
6. Her First Introduction to Quentin Tarantino Was Not Comfortable
After she was cast in “Planet Terror,” McGowan was certain her career — away from Weinstein — was getting back on track. She soon came into contact with Tarantino, who was directing the companion film to Rodriguez’s grindhouse offering, and he was apparently quite eager to let the actress know he was familiar with her work.
“The first time I met Tarantino, and for years after, every time he’d see me, he said, ‘Rose! I have your movie ‘Jawbreaker’ on laser disc! I can’t tell you how many times I used the shot where you’re painting your toes!'”
By “used,” McGowan inferred that he pleasured himself with the scene. As McGowan wrote, “Tarantino has a known foot fetish. To him seeing a naked foot is the equivalent of a breast person getting turned on by nipples. That means Tarantino paid extra money to jerk off to my young feet and told me about it loudly, over and over, for years, in front of numerous people…”
7. Twitter Helped McGowan Find Her Own Voice
In the second part of “BRAVE,” McGowan details some of the work she put into becoming a “whole person” and truly finding her voice, including turning to Twitter to interact with people and spread truth. She amusingly discusses the 2015 kerfuffle that ensued after she mocked some sexist wording in a script, which garnered a ton of attention and ultimately led to her agent firing her (she tweeted about that too).
“I finally realized how important it was for me as an artist to claim my strength and my power and my worth,” she wrote. “Because there’s something inside of us that they can’t take away, no matter how much they try.”
McGowan’s memoir “BRAVE” is available for purchase today.
UPDATED: Ben Brafman, attorney for Harvey Weinstein, provided the following statement: “Mr. Weinstein denies Rose McGowan’s allegations of non-consensual sexual contact and it is erroneous and irresponsible to conflate claims of inappropriate behavior and consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of rape. This allegation, like her others of being in the CIA and equating a red carpet with being raped, are unsupported. It was Ms. McGowan, and only Ms. McGowan, who chose to demand money from Mr. Weinstein; it was Ms. McGowan who later chose to work with Mr. Weinstein professionally, and it was Ms. McGowan who later elected to personally appear with Mr. Weinstein at his charity event in Cannes. Ms. McGowan also approached Mr. Weinstein to finance a 30 million film she was starring in, a remake of Barbarella.”