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Fierce, vulnerable, voluble: 36 minutes with Rose McGowan

Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

McGowan's refusal to cooperate with the celebrity-industrial complex may be unusual, but then again not many Hollywood stars have been tailed by former Israeli spies or had their book manuscripts stolen (allegedly). And given the abuse and neglect she recounts in "Brave," it seems a miracle she's able to leave the house.

McGowan spent the early years of her life in Tuscany, Italy, where her parents lived as members of the Children of God, a cult. Her family eventually returned to the U.S., where she was shuttled back and forth between her parents' homes in different states, spent time in rehab and on the streets as a runaway. By 16, she was emancipated from her parents, deep in the throes of an eating disorder and living in Los Angeles with a drug-addicted 21-year-old boyfriend.

In McGowan's rendering, Weinstein is just one of the many villains populating Hollywood, "one of the biggest cults of all." On her first film job, she was allegedly sexually assaulted by an unnamed crew member. She portrays ex-fiance, director Robert Rodriguez, as a possessive bully. She makes even the most quotidian aspects of the industry, like auditions and red-carpet appearances, sound like psychological torture. Her breaking point came in 2007, with a Rolling Stone cover, in which she and "Grindhouse" costar Rosario Dawson were asked to pose naked, save for strategically placed ammunition belts.

The new chapter in McGowan's public life began around 2014 with the release of her directorial debut, "Dawn," a short film about how men prey on young and eager-to-please girls. On Twitter, she started amassing a following by exposing Hollywood sexism, including an egregious casting notice for an Adam Sandler film. Once labeled a Hollywood bad girl, she's remade herself as a feminist agitator who helped spark a global reckoning over sexual misconduct -- a transformation that has forced the media to "do a reset," McGowan says. "You're not sure how to do it. You've been trained to dismiss me, hate me, despise me, think I was a weirdo and a trashy woman this whole time. Congratulations, well done. You guys were always on the money."

McGowan is critical of seemingly friendly outlets like Time, which named her one of its people of the year. "That title is bull ... 'The Silence Breakers.' ... off. I kicked your earplugs outta your head. That's what happened. Fact."

She says she was not surprised at the extent of Weinstein's alleged misdeeds, and says he was enabled by a vast infrastructure.

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"This was a funneling system. There was a woman paid to give him erection medicine ... we were sold by people," she says. "That's the wild thing about all these Trump people. They're right about Hollywood. That's the ... up part. They're spot-on. These fake liberals telling us what to do and thinking they're better than us."

Still, McGowan's role as a "silence breaker" is also complicated. Anyone with access to Wikipedia could have figured out who she was talking about when she said "my ex sold our movie to my rapist" in an October 2016 tweet, but she didn't publicly name Weinstein as her alleged attacker until other women went on the record in the New Yorker and the New York Times a year later.

In McGowan's telling, this was all part of a master plan. "David Carr tried to break the story every three years. But it wasn't time," she says of the late New York Times writer, one of many journalists who unsuccessfully pursued the Weinstein rumors. "Systemically, people were too stupid and there was no platform to speak for myself."

Likewise, though she reportedly sat for an interview with Ronan Farrow when he was investigating the story for NBC News, she also takes credit for killing the story at the network: "I started a cease and desist at NBC. It was me that spiked it. It wasn't the place for it."

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