Fierce, vulnerable, voluble: 36 minutes with Rose McGowan

Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

NEW YORK -- Rose McGowan gives zero -- well, you know whats. Or maybe she gives too many. Sometimes it can be hard to tell.

The author, filmmaker, musician, activist and former actress arrives an hour later than scheduled for an interview at her stylish TriBeCa hotel and asks if she can have a few minutes to go upstairs and "get human again." Another half-hour later, she returns to the lobby wearing white adhesive patches under her eyes to reduce allergy-related puffiness which, paired with her fuzzy yellow sweater, make her resemble an exotic bird.

She's spent the day criss-crossing Manhattan promoting her E! docu-series, "Citizen Rose," and the release of her memoir, "Brave," in which she details, for the first time, her alleged rape at the hands of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. Weinstein has denied the allegations. She's also had to respond to a new round of attacks from "her monster," as she refers to Weinstein, whose lawyers have released emails written by Ben Affleck and McGowan's former manager Jill Messick in a last-ditch effort to discredit her.

The 44-year-old, who also has an album coming out this month, seems almost amused at Weinstein's use of a crisis management team.

"I'm like, laughing. Crisis management? Dude ... . Chill out. What are you paying all this money for? They're going to bleed you dry ... . You're done."

McGowan, who rose to fame in the 1996 horror classic "Scream," is a bundle of contradictions -- endearing yet unnerving, fierce yet vulnerable, incisive yet rambling. She is, in her own words, an optimist with a "Pollyanna brain" whose speech is liberally seasoned with F-bombs and X-rated imagery.


Weary from back-to-back interviews, McGowan says she'd rather have a real conversation than field the same handful of tedious questions about Weinstein, her beef with Meryl Streep, and what she thinks of the Time's Up movement.

"Everybody sees the same people on talk shows saying the same damn answer and it's always on us to come up with a different answer. Why don't you come up with different questions? I would say 'What's your favorite color? What lighting makes you happy? What sounds do you most enjoy?' You want to get to know me, ask me something. Don't ask me basic-ass" stuff, she says.

And yet what follows isn't an equal exchange so much as a ricocheting 35-minute monologue about an array of subjects including what Ben Affleck's teeth say about the Hollywood machine; how CNN -- "ratings mad and tacky ... " -- handed the election to Trump; the time she "hijacked" a political dinner in New Hampshire; the lyrics to the Weeknd's "Earned It"; and her general disdain for "Kool-Aid pushers" and people with "khaki brains."

At several points throughout the conversation, the former star of "Charmed" launches into bellicose, quasi-messianic speeches that make her sound like a latter-day Daenerys Targaryen. ("These men, I could break them with my pinkie. Why are they allowed to govern us, the worms?" and "I'm trying to destroy a ... system that's been around for millennia. Right now we're running alongside of a burning bus driven by a ... madman.") A few hours later, she'll sit for a similarly discomfiting interview on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," one that she'll defend on Twitter as "a Dick Cavett free form hangout." And on Friday, she announced via Twitter that she was canceling the rest of her public appearances after a contentious exchange at a book reading.


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