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Why Hollywood Won't Cast Rose McGowan Anymore

She's had a tumultuous relationship with Hollywood over the course of her career to date, but Rose McGowan was already used to sticking it to the man by the time she made her film debut in poorly received 1992 comedy Encino Man, having survived the first several years of her life moving around Europe as part of a polygamous cult that blended free-love with Christianity. She rebelled from the start, telling People, "I lit a wall of Bibles on fire, took a candle to it."

After fearing that she would end up the victim of sexual abuse if they stayed, it was McGowan's father who smuggled her out of the commune and back into their native United States where she would eventually launch her acting career. While she enjoyed moderate success in the '90s, she became best known for her drug-fueled relationship with controversial rock star Marilyn Manson and later for playing Paige Matthews in Charmed from 2001 to 2006. But soon after that she pretty much disappeared from the radar. So what went wrong for her, exactly? This is why Hollywood won't cast Rose McGowan anymore.

The Robert Rodriguez drama

The nature of the relationship between an actor and their director means that romance will inevitably blossom on occasion, but that doesn't mean studio execs encourage such behavior, quite the opposite in fact. On-set affairs have been known to derail movies in the past, and this was exactly what happened with 2007's Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez's bloody B-movie homage.

The Mexican-American helmer and his wife Elizabeth Avellán were known as "the power couple of Texas film" in their home state, idolized for pioneering "the new Latino cinematic sensibility." That all came to an end when Avellán (who was actually a producer on Planet Terror) discovered that her husband of 16 years had been having a brazen affair with McGowan. According to a Variety report from the time, production on the movie was suspended for a month after news of the scandal broke.

Sadly, Avellán was apparently the last person to find out about it. "It was the worst-kept secret on the set," a Page Six source recalled. "They were going off to his trailer, having meals together. Rose thought some of the crew were treating her differently, and the attitude was, like, 'Well what do you expect when you're [sleeping with] the director?'" They went public with their relationship and announced their engagement in October 2007, but two years later McGowan backed out of the wedding and split from Rodriguez.

She hasn't had a hit for years

Unfortunately for McGowan, her record with the critics doesn't make for particularly good reading nowadays. She got an early taste of critical recognition back in the mid-90s when she appeared as Tatum Riley in Wes Craven's influential slasher Scream, which was Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a solid score of 79 percent. "I was so green," she told EW. "I didn't really have a good reference point for a whole lot other than that I like a good story and it was certainly a good yarn."

Years of critical misfires followed, but McGowan experienced a career resurgence in 2007 when she appeared in Planet Terror, released alongside Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof as a double feature under the name Grindhouse to rave reviews. McGowan's performance as one-legged stripper Cherry was one of the highlights of the whole project, but according to the actress it closed as many doors as it opened.

"It's funny, I did a cover for Rolling Stone the other day and it was a kind of crazy lack of outfit," she told IGN at the time. "I thought, 'Oh, Lord. I'm never going to be Jane Austen in a film now!' 'Cause that's what I'd really like to do." The actress made a good start to shaking her typecast in 2008 British war drama Fifty Dead Men Walking, but that was the last time she was involved in a positively reviewed movie.

She's been accused of homophobia

If there's a feminism scale, then McGowan's beliefs would land her at the radical end of it, and that dynamic has never played out well in Hollywood. The raven haired actress has openly discussed the issue of male misogyny within the industry on several occasions, but when she joined American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis on his podcast in 2014, she claimed that gay men are "more misogynistic" than straight men.

"I have heard nobody in the gay community, no gay males, standing up for women on any level," McGowan is quoted as saying by The Independent. "Women, by-and-large, have very much helped the gay community get to where they are today. And I have seen not a single peep from these people, who supposedly represent lesbians as well... I see now people who have basically fought for the right to stand on top of a float wearing an orange Speedo and take molly."

The backlash against McGowan was huge, with countless Twitter users expressing their shock and outrage at her comments. "She's a homophobe masquerading as an advocate," one angry poster said (via CNN), while another accused her of "spite" over her Speedo jibe. In the end, the growing pressure forced her into making an apology, but in true Rose McGowan fashion, she refused to hang her head in shame. "I made a dumb generalization, and for that I apologize," she told Huffington Post. "For everything else I said, no, I will not."

She was fired by her agent

McGowan caused a stir in Hollywood in 2015 when she took to Twitter to complain about a sexist script she had been sent by her agent. The screenplay came with a wardrobe note detailing exactly what actresses needed to wear to the audition in order to be considered for the role, and the raunchy requirements rubbed the feminist actress up the wrong way. "Black (or dark) form fitting tank that shows off cleavage (push up bras encouraged)," the note read.

McGowan didn't name the movie, but she left her followers in no doubt over who the lead actor was: "Name of male star rhymes with Madam Panhandler," she said. According to a second tweet, McGowan's agent let her go after discovering she had made the casting requirements public. "I just got fired by my wussy acting agent because I spoke up about the bulls*** in Hollywood," she said, though it wouldn't be the last we would hear of it.

With a media storm growing, the actress decided to address the issue head on during an interview with Entertainment Weekly, explaining that it was a wider issue. "It has nothing to do with Adam Sandler, it's that whole type of world," she said. "Someone told me that when... he announced his deal with Netflix he said, 'I signed with Netflix 'cause it rhymes with wet chicks.' Really? That's what you're going to say? ... We've kind of moved beyond that s***, it's not Mad Men era."

The Caitlyn Jenner beef

In terms of show business beefs, 2015 was a busy year for McGowan, and by the time it came to a close her chances of lasting in Tinseltown looked slimmer than ever. Her reputation was getting dragged through the mud by the LGBT community for a second time after some inflammatory comments she made about transgender reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, who had just been named as one of Glamour magazine's Women of the Year.

In a Facebook post that has since been deleted, McGowan reacted angrily to the news. "Caitlyn Jenner you do not understand what being a woman is about at all," the actress wrote (via The Mary Sue). "We are more than deciding what to wear. We are more than the stereotypes foisted upon us by people like you. You're a woman now? Well f***ing learn that we have had a VERY different experience than your life of male privilege. Being a woman comes with a lot of baggage. The weight of unequal history. You'd do well to learn it. You'd do well to wake up. Woman of the year? Not by a long f***ing shot."

Some commentators accused McGowan of being a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), but the actress rejected that notion, calling the idea that she was trans-phobic "laughable" in a follow-up post. "Being trans doesn't make one immune from criticism," she said. "Being Caitlyn Jenner is most assuredly not easy, but that doesn't absolve her of responsibility."

She doesn't do red carpets

Those old enough to have been watching MTV way back in 1998 will no doubt remember the scandalous dress (if you can really call it that) McGowan wore while accompanying her rocker boyfriend Marilyn Manson to the MTV Video Music Awards, leaving shockingly little to the imagination for those in attendance.

"My experience on the red carpet has been a journey of defiance, then one-of-a-kind acquiescence and finally a refusal to play by invented rules passed down through an aged system," she wrote in a piece for The Hollywood Reporter in 2016. "Who says I need to have my hair and makeup professionally done? Who says I need to pay someone to make me look like an odd beauty pageant version of myself?"

The actress went as far as describing the red carpet process as "visual rape" when asked by an Entertainment Tonight correspondent if she thought cameras panning up and down the bodies of actresses was inappropriate. "I'm fairly sure my response didn't make it to air," she said. Right or wrong, red carpet events are part and parcel of the job, and not many studios are willing to take risks on actors who won't promote their own movies.

She accused a studio head of rape

Just months after her "visual rape" comments, McGowan's criticism of male-dominated Hollywood took an even more serious tone when she revealed that she'd been physically raped by a well-known and highly respected studio head. She dropped the bombshell after women started coming forward with stories about sexual assaults supposedly committed by Donald Trump over the years. McGowan was not a fan of the then-presidential nominee (she even penned an open letter to Trump calling for him to end his "daily reign of terror cancer"), and seeing fellow women come forward with their stories inspired her to do the same.

McGowan joined in with the #WhyWomenDontReport on Twitter and explained that her rape was not taken seriously because of the characters she had previously played on screen. "A (female) criminal attorney said because I'd done a sex scene in a film I would never win against the studio head," she said. The actress followed that up by revealing that a former partner had actually sold one of her movies to her rapist for distribution despite what he did, and that what happened to her was pretty much common knowledge in Tinseltown.

"It's been an open secret in Hollywood/Media & they shamed me while adulating my rapist," she tweeted before demanding the truth of what was happening be acknowledged. "It is time for some goddamned honesty in this world," she said.

Her horror comeback failed to inspire

McGowan had high hopes for her 2017 supernatural thriller The Sound, but unfortunately for her it didn't quite work as a comeback vehicle. The actress told ET that she was attracted to the lead role of ghost-hunting blogger Kelly Johansen because it broke the mold when it came to female representation in the horror genre. "The system is incredibly corrupt and wrong and debasing," she said. "Only 23 [percent] of speaking roles are between women. Imagine how they're generally portrayed in horror films, unlike The Sound... [W]hat they're doing is giving women and men all over the world a mirror for themselves to look in and a way to consume the propaganda."

While McGowan's performance did receive some praise from LA Times critic Noel Murray, the majority of reviews for The Sound have been pretty underwhelming. "Even Kelly, despite her sympathetic situation, isn't a particularly interesting character," The Hollywood Reporter's Justin Lowe said in his scathing write-up. "A dismissive attitude and superior self-regard don't improve her likability either." Lowe admitted that McGowan at least seemed comfortable in the role, but added that "there's not much heavy lifting to be done with the bare-bones plot" that the movie hinges on.

The Harvey Weinstein article

Twelve months after McGowan first took to Twitter to reveal being raped, the identity of the man she was referring to was exposed. McGowan didn't go as far as naming her attacker in her earlier tweets, but it all came out in an explosive New York Times article in October 2017. Turns out the studio head she had accused of rape was none other than Oscar-winning producer Harvey Weinstein, who has been paying off sexual harassment accusers for years, according to the newspaper.

"In 1997, Mr. Weinstein reached a previously undisclosed settlement with Rose McGowan, then a 23-year-old-actress, after an episode in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival," the article stated. "The $100,000 settlement was 'not to be construed as an admission' by Mr. Weinstein, but intended to 'avoid litigation and buy peace,' according to the legal document, which was reviewed by The Times."

Weinstein apologized for his actions and recognized that they had "caused a lot of pain" but that didn't stop the Weinstein Company from sacking its co-founder in light of the allegations. "[T]he directors of The Weinstein Company have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately," the statement read.

McGowan took to Twitter to praise The New York Times for breaking the story and posted a picture of herself that was taken around the time the incident took place. "This is the girl that was hurt by a monster," she said. "This is who you are shaming with your silence."

She's been working on a book

According to her IMDb profile, McGowan doesn't have any projects in the pipeline, but now that her "open secret" has been made public and a growing group of Hollywood A-listers have voiced their concern at the Weinstein allegations, McGowan will no doubt remain active in the conversation.

The actress has actually been working on a tell-all book that will go into more detail about her turbulent career in Tinseltown. Brave, released in 2018, is described by publisher HarperCollins as "a revealing memoir and empowering manifesto from one of the most provocative voices in Hollywood." 

"I am very proud of it," McGowan told ET. "I wrote it myself. It's 300 pages and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Going through, and again, resurrecting ghosts, which was very difficult. I have been working on the book in my head my whole life, I just kept adding chapters. Writing is one of the things I hate to do, but I'm very good at it."

Her past rants have given McGowan a reputation as a bit of a loose cannon, something Hollywood is only ever willing to turn a blind eye to if the actor in question is happy to play by their rules, which McGowan is most certainly not. Whether you agree with all of her opinions or not, there is no denying that her book has an appropriate title—she sure is brave.

Rose McGowan claims she's still blacklisted in Hollywood

When Rose McGowan went public with her explosive allegations against Harvey Weinstein, she helped set off a chain of events that would ultimately see the producer convicted of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act. "I've been called one of the first to speak out. No. I was the first," McGowan, who claims Weinstein raped her during the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, told the Guardian. "I called the New York Times. I blew it wide open." She spoke out in private long before the Times published its exposé, however.

According to McGowan, Weinstein's alleged assault on her had been an "open secret" in Hollywood for years. "They shamed me while adulating my rapist," she tweeted. When the actress tried to take action, she was reportedly told it would be a fruitless endeavor. "A (female) criminal attorney said because I'd done a sex scene in a film I would never win," McGowan said. To add insult to injury, Weinstein apparently blacklisted McGowan, deeply damaging her career.

Even after Weinstein handed himself in to police, McGowan still couldn't land roles. "People in Hollywood have not been brave enough to step up for me as I stepped up for them," she told the Hollywood Reporter in 2019. "I helped to clean out the system and they haven't been brave in return. So, I do miss performing but I feel like acting is in the past, mostly because of the lack of support that I've gotten."

Rose McGowan's career was 'stolen' by Hollywood predators

Rose McGowan helped get the ball rolling, but she was far from the only person that spoke out against Harvey Weinstein — by the time he was convicted in February 2020, more than 90 women had publicly accused the prolific producer of sex crimes. Speaking to the Guardian, McGowan paid tribute to the numerous stars who have allegedly suffered at Weinstein's hands, both personally and professionally. "My career was stolen," she said. "We all got stolen. And we were all very good at our jobs. That's the other crime in all this."

She was of course overjoyed when Weinstein was convicted for raping actress Jessica Mann and sexually assaulting production assistant Mimi Haleyi, but according to McGowan, the Miramax co-founder isn't the only predator in the industry. During an interview with journalist Ronan Farrow (who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reports on the Weinstein scandal), McGowan revealed that another "prominent" Hollywood male took advantage of her long before Weinstein did.

"This man picked me up when I was 15 years old," McGowan told Farrow in front of a live audience at New York City's 92Y (via the Hollywood Reporter). She said that the unnamed man took her home, had consensual sex with her and then kicked her out. "It was not until two weeks after your story broke — our story, our world's story — that I was in bed and I started saying, 'Oh my god, I think that's molestation.'"

She's called out some women in Hollywood, too

Rose McGowan's anger is not solely reserved for Hollywood's men. When the allegations against Harvey Weinstein broke and the Me Too movement gained momentum, several actresses started wearing black outfits to awards ceremonies as a show of solidarity. McGowan wasn't buying into it. "Actresses like Meryl Streep who happily worked for The Pig Monster are wearing black in a silent protest," she said in a now-deleted tweet (via the BBC). "YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You'll accept a fake award breathlessly and affect no real change." Streep responded by claiming that she "did not know" what Weinstein had been up to.

In 2020, McGowan went after another female peer for staging "the kind of protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream media for its bravery" but, in her opinion, was nothing more than "lip service." She was referring to Natalie Portman, who wore a cape with the names of the female directors she believed had been snubbed to the Academy Awards. "I find Portman's type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work," McGowan posted to Facebook. "Until you and your fellow actresses get real, do us all a favor and hang up your embroidered activist cloak."

McGowan later apologized for singling Portman out, but she didn't remove her original post. If she truly wants to start landing Hollywood gigs again, criticizing like-minded females with their own production companies probably isn't the best way to go.

Rose McGowan sees Hollywood as an 'authoritarian regime'

In 2011, Rose McGowan sat down with People to discuss her unconventional upbringing. She was born into a cult named the Children of God, who were camped out on a large property in Italy at the time. At age nine, she fled with her father (who passed in 2008) and sisters, though escaping wasn't easy. "We hid in an old stone house and had to boil pots of hot water to take baths," she recalled. "[The cult] sent people to find us. I remember a man trying to break in with a hammer."

Her dad (who, like her mom, was born in America) eventually got them back to the States and she started on her path to Hollywood. According to McGowan, her life in Tinseltown wasn't that different. "Most people from a cult end up in another and that's what happened to me," she told the Guardian in 2019. "If you're doing something that supports a power structure that's not supporting you, guess what? You're in a cult."

McGowan went as far as calling Hollywood a "major authoritarian regime" in her Guardian interview, claiming the industry controls everything from your appearance to what you say in public. Similarly, speaking out against the leaders is a big no-no. "Whatever you do, don't ruffle any feathers," she said. "God forbid you get out of line, little girl." Staying in line has never been McGowan's style, and her professional prospects have evidently suffered as a result. 

Rose McGowan's new beginnings

Rose McGowan is refusing to allow the Harvey Weinstein scandal to stop her from working in the business she loves, but she's admitted that she probably won't find real closure until the shamed producer has passed. "I feel like he and I are strapped in this battle together until one of us is dead," she told the Shut Up Evan podcast in 2020 (via People). "Energetically, we're like, just locked. It's a really disgusting feeling. I just would love to be able to be like other people and live my life." She seems to have accepted that Hollywood isn't interested in casting her anymore, which is why she's decided to direct movies instead.

A defiant McGowan made her debut behind the camera in 2014 with a short called Dawn, and now she's ready to helm her first feature length film, an animated comedy called PomeraniaIt's a kids' movie on the surface, but the film explores issues that affect people of all ages. "It's about a little dog who hides in the closet, and once she comes out of the closet she becomes the queen of a land called Pomerania," McGowan told the Hollywood Reporter at the Odessa Film Festival. "And she's at war with Muttlandia, where all the mutts are. So, it's all about race, breed, classism — and it's very funny."

The odds have been stacked against her since she was a child, but McGowan has always been a fighter, and that will never change.